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Three Priests With Ties To Area Put On Leave

Three retired priests with ties to northern Chautauqua County have been placed on administrative leave.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher of the Buffalo Catholic diocese said action was taken after officials were informed that informational documents have been filed with the federal Bankruptcy Court as part of the diocese’s chapter 11 reorganization proceeding. Specifically, bankruptcy claimants have filed confidential documents containing information about their allegations against the priests.

Upon learning of the allegations, the Diocese notified the offices of the appropriate District Attorneys, and confronted the priests, all of whom denied committing any acts of abuse. The Diocese also reported the claims to the Independent Review Board which will be responsible for appointing independent investigators. The priests accused are the following:

¯ The Rev. Robert Beiter, 82, who is retired and not currently active in ministry due to declining health is restricted from carrying out any priestly ministry or from presenting himself publicly as a priest. At the time of his retirement Fr. Beiter served as Pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Brocton.

¯ The Rev. Thomas Wopperer, 83, also retired but who assists at a number of diocesan parishes, is also restricted from performing priestly ministry or presenting himself publicly as a priest. In 1988, he came to Dunkirk to shepherd at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, all the way through to his retirement in 2008.

¯ The Rev. Raymond Donohue, 63, is retired but also occasionally assists in various parishes. He is also restricted from performing priestly ministry or presenting himself publicly as a priest. He spent three years (1990-1993) at St. Peter and Paul in Jamestown – one year as the parochial vicar and two as its administrator. After his time in Jamestown, he became the Newman Center director for the SUNY Fredonia campus, where he stayed for two years (1993-1995). In 1995, he became the pastor of St. Mary’s in Mayville and St. Isaac Jogues in Sherman, as well as the chaplain for the Catholic Community at the Chautauqua Institution and the Chautauqua County Jail.

In addition, the Rev. Monsignor Ronald Sciera, 86, who is retired and currently residing in Florida, has also been placed on leave. Msgr. Sciera is not currently active in public ministry, however is similarly restricted from presenting himself as a priest or performing priestly ministry. He previously served as Pastor of Precious Blood Parish in Buffalo. Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, has been informed of Msgr. Sciera’s status.

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