FALL RIVER— In a letter from Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., shared at Masses this weekend (June 22-23), parishioners of St. Michael and St. Joseph Parishes in Fall River were informed that their pastor has been placed on leave from priestly ministry.

Reverend Jay Mello was placed on administrative leave last week by the bishop after the Diocese of Fall River recently received concerning information alleging sexual misconduct by the priest. It is important to note that there are no allegations of inappropriate conduct with minors.

An initial investigation by the Diocese found that there is sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation to determine whether Father Mello has violated the standards of ministerial behavior and the Code of Conduct for Priests.  Based on these allegations and the initial findings, Father Mello was placed on administrative leave as this investigation continues. Consistent with Diocesan standards, he is no longer residing at the parish rectory and has been directed to refrain from exercising public priestly ministry.  

Father Mello has denied the allegations of priestly misconduct and is entitled to the presumption of innocence until the investigation is complete and a final determination is made.

In his letter to parishioners, Bishop da Cunha acknowledged that this turn of events will be “shocking and unsettling.” The bishop went on to write, “This situation is distressing for all of us. Please know that my prayers are with all the faithful people of St. Michael and St. Joseph Parishes during this challenging time.”

He also assured them that the pastoral and temporal care of their parish communities is of “utmost importance” to him and that arrangements are being made for a priest to temporarily assume the pastoral and administrative responsibilities at both places. The current Mass schedule will remain unchanged.

 Father Mello became parochial administrator of St. Michael and St. Joseph Parishes in 2015 and was named pastor of the neighboring churches in 2016.

The Diocese of Fall River encourages anyone with concerns regarding the conduct of any priest, staff, or volunteer affiliated with the Diocese to contact law enforcement and/or Carolyn Shipp, the Diocesan Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance at 508-985-6508, by email at cshipp@dioc-fr.org or on our website at https://www.fallriverdiocese.org/safe-environment/report-an-incident-of-abuse/

Diocese of Fall River
Diocese of Fall River
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