STATEMENT of the FALL RIVER DIOCESE
ON THE DISCOVERY OF THE BODY OF FATHER WILLIAM M. COSTELLO
August 20, 2018
The Fall River Diocese was deeply saddened to learn over this past weekend that the body of retired priest Father William M. Costello was found near a cemetery in Santa Monica, Texas, about an hour from his home in South Padre Island, Texas. Father Costello had been reported missing on August 1.
The circumstances of the matter are disturbing. Authorities have made an arrest in connection with the discovery of his body; beyond that, the Diocese has no other details at this time. We await additional information as authorities continue their investigation.
We offer our prayers for the repose of the soul of Father Costello. We also extend our prayers for his family, his friends, and those whom he served as a priest.
A native of Northampton, Mass, Father Costello was ordained a priest for the Fall River Diocese in 1974. He first served as a parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth until 1978, when he was named chaplain at Sturdy Hospital in Attleboro. In 1985, he was assigned as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish, Norton, serving there until 1990 when he was transferred to St. Anthony Parish, Mattapoisett, in the same capacity. He became administrator at St. Mary Parish in Taunton in 1993 and named pastor there in 1994. He was appointed pastor of St. Anthony Parish in East Falmouth in 1999.
In 2011, he became pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk. In January, 2012, then Fall River Bishop George W. Coleman placed him on administrative leave following notification from the Rhode Island State Police that Father Costello was part of an investigation it had undertaken. The investigation did not involve the abuse of minors, and parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish were informed of this at Masses during the weekend of January 14/15, 2012.
No charges were filed against him at any time during the investigation or at its completion.
The investigation disclosed instances of poor judgment, which resulted in the request of Bishop Coleman that he retire early. Some years later he moved to Texas.