The Pastor of Saint Bernadette Parish in Northborough, Mass. has resigned after being accused of stealing more than $200,000 to maintain his gambling problem.
Father Stephen M. Gemme resigned last Thursday. The announcement was made on the parish’s website in a letter from Bishop of Worcester Robert McManus.
The investigation began after McManus received a letter from a member of the St. Bernadette School Advisory Board with concerns about expenditures from a single account in the school budget.
McManus questioned Gemme, who admitted to having a gambling problem.
“It appears that during the last four years, more than $110,000 of school funds and more than $120,000 of parish funds were used by Fr. Gemme for personal expenditures unrelated to the parish or school,” McManus wrote. “As a result of the magnitude of the misuse of funds, the matter has been referred to the District Attorney’s Office.”
Gemme was appointed pastor in 2003 and re-appointed in 2009 for a second six-year term. He has been on medical leave since mid-July, so he could “receive professional, residential evaluation and treatment,” according to the letter.
McManus also assured the parish that overall operations of the school and parish are sound and are being managed by staff and volunteers.
“I am shocked. I really didn’t’ know something like this was going on,” Stephen’s father, Raymond Gemme told Boston CBS Local.
Bishop McManus said he will pursue full restitution for the parish and school and a new pastor will soon be named.
“This is very distressing news that I share with you today,” McManus wrote. “It is tragic. Even in light of this serious breach of trust, we must remember that Fr. Gemme has done much good for many of you and your families, as well as for your parish and school.”
Sources: Boston CBS Local, St. Bernadette Parish