Parishioners complaints about the pastor of their parish have been heard downtown.
Towards the end of October, a letter from a faction of concerned parishioners at St. Frances de Chantal church was circulated accusing Father Peter Miqueli, the pastor, of being chronically absent from the house of worship four days a week, of handling cash donations in a manner contrary to Archdiocese of New York mandates and of lacking spirituality.
So far, according to several members of the effort, Miqueli has not personally or publicly responded to any of the allegations directly. An archdiocesan spokesman has been speaking on his behalf.
Finally, according to sources within the group of parishioners, several of whom do not want to be named because of concerns of possible retaliation, the archdiocese has taken notice and its representatives met with leaders of the effort calling for a change in leadership.
“We have people here in the parish here who oppose Fr. Miqueli, but who are afraid to say anything because of his vindictiveness, I know that for a fact,” said Jack Lynch, a member of the group responsible for the letter, who confirmed that he and others met recently with archdiocesan officials about the pastor.
“We had a confidential meeting with people from the Bronx part of the archdiocese, but we don’t know what is going to transpire from this,” said Lynch. “All we know is that we hope the archdiocese will act.”
Another one of the members of the group of parishioners opposing Fr. Miqueli said that the biggest concern of archdiocesan officials was not so much the pastor’s handling of cash donations, but allegations of a lack of spirituality on his part.
“The people feel completely disconnected,” said Lynch. “A malaise has overtaken this parish. There was one lifetime parishioner who told me she was getting out of this parish because she could not take it anymore.”
An active parishioner for decades, who declined to give a name, but who is familiar with the workings of the Catholic church, said it is not uncommon for pastors not to be exceptional administrators.
“There are many pastors who are not good administrators, that is not why they became priests, but that is what they have to do to run the parish,” she said. “So that sort of thing can be forgiven if the parishioners feel that they have a good shepherd.”
“The people of St. Frances do not feel that he has an affection for us as his flock,” she said of Fr.Miqueli.
Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said that Fr. Miqueli has tried to reach out and speak with the unhappy parishioners.
He also said Bishop John Jenik, a representative for Cardinal Dolan in the Bronx, is the individual meeting with the parishioners.
Zwilling declined to release specific parish finance data to the Bronx Times.
Fr. Miqueli took over the helm of St. Frances about two years ago.