A Bronx parish received $22,450 after an investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office announced Oct. 31 that a former pastor was improperly reimbursed for personal expenses from the parish account.
Father Peter Miqueli, former pastor of St. Frances de Chantal parish in the Bronx, was improperly reimbursed the money, which is being paid back from sustenance funds due to Father Miqueli under the provisions of Canon Law.
With the funds being returned to the parish, no charges were filed against the 54-year-old Father Miqueli.
In an Oct. 26 letter to St. Frances de Chantal parishioners, Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, vicar for clergy, said, “Since departing this parish, Father Miqueli has not had an assignment, and has not been permitted to function as a priest. While the archdiocese is in discussions with Father Miqueli about his future, it is difficult to envision a circumstance that would allow him to return to the active priesthood.”
Letters from Bishop Walsh and Msgr. John Graham, the current pastor of St. Frances de Chantal, were made available to parishioners at Masses on the weekend of Oct. 28-29, and via the parish website and mail.
Father Miqueli, who was named pastor at St. Frances de Chantal in 2012, stepped down as pastor in December 2015 after parishioners at St. Frances de Chantal and his previous parish, St. Frances Cabrini on Roosevelt Island, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court. The lawsuit included details of an alleged sexual affair Father Miqueli had as well as accusations the priest took money donated to repair a church pipe organ and used drugs provided by a parishioner.
The investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office found allegations of criminal conduct by Father Miqueli, including misappropriation or theft of millions of dollars from the parish over several years, to be unsubstantiated.
“The archdiocese has attempted to investigate the other, more sensational accusations of morally abhorrent behavior, but, to date, nothing has been brought forward to substantiate them, and Father Miqueli continues to deny them,” Bishop Walsh said in his letter to parishioners.
The Bronx District Attorney’s Office also concluded in its investigation that St. Frances de Chantal did not meet the financial controls ordered by the archdiocese, which did not scrutinize the parish finances to ensure the parish was in compliance. The district attorney’s office recommended 13 best practices for the parish to follow, many of which are required in the Archdiocesan Financial Policies and Procedures Manual.