Local News

St. Gregory pastor removed while investigation occurs

SITKA, ALASKA
Fr. Edmund Penisten arrived at St. Gregory church in October, after eight years in Ketchikan. Diocesan officials were alerted to a possible problem about two weeks ago.

“A computer program that had been installed on the computers at St. Gregory’s indicated that some questionable material had been accessed,” said the Rev. Pat Travers, vicar general of the Diocese of Juneau.

Travers said Bishop Edward Burns immediately asked Penisten to step aside and contacted police. Travers also said he doesn’t know what the questionable material on the computers consisted of.

Sitka Police Lieutenant Barry Allen says computers from the church were sent to Anchorage for analysis. The results of those tests are still pending. No charges have been filed.

The next step, according to Travers, is to find out what authorities discover on the computers and assess the possible consequences.

“In the meantime,” he said, “Father Peniston won’t be in public ministry, and at some point there will probably be an assessment of where he is psychologically and pastorally.”

Bishop Burns led the Mass in Sitka last weekend and held a town hall meeting for parishioners on Saturday night. Travers says those in attendance had lots of questions.

“It sounds like they were concerned but at the same time, seemed to give him the feedback that they were confident about the way he was handling things,” he said.

Charles Horan is on the Parish Council at St. Gregory. He said members of the congregation are “very grieved” by recent events.

The Bishop is expected to return to Sitka this weekend and lead Masses.
© Copyright 1970, Raven Radio Foundation Inc.

Comments

Please read our comment guidelines.

Recent News

Seiner sinks in Eastern Channel

122
Yesterday evening (09-01-15), a wooden seiner ran aground in the vicinity of the Twins Island, roughly 0.5 to 0.75 nm off the mouth of Indian River. The F/V Pacific Venture later sunk. Marine Safety Detachment Sitka estimates 5 gallons of diesel fuel was released in that grounding. more

Governor declares disaster in Sitka, freeing up relief funds

150818_slides_Waldholz_01
On Friday, Governor Bill Walker issued a disaster declaration for Sitka, in response to seven landslides on August 18th. In a letter to the legislature, Walker said he would cap relief at $1 million for the moment, but that the incident is ongoing and total recovery costs are unknown. According to Gorman, the cost of emergency response alone is estimated to be over half a million dollars. Individual assistance and family grants are also available, at a cap of $16,450 per household. more