A St. Cloud priest who served prison time for sexual misconduct with an adult parishioner has left the priesthood.
In a news release issued Tuesday, St. Cloud Bishop Donald Kettler stated after a formal review, he recommended to Anthony Oelrich that he should seek to be laicized, or dismissed from the clerical state.
Oelrich agreed, and the laicization process is complete, Kettler stated.
Oelrich, 56, was released from prison Oct. 17 after serving more than two years of a 41-month sentence.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
He pleaded guilty in 2019 to one felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having ongoing sexual conduct with a woman who'd come to him for spiritual advice while he was serving at the Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud.
While he was in prison, Oelrich remained a priest, although his priestly faculties were suspended. That meant he couldn’t present himself as a priest, celebrate Mass publicly or wear the Roman collar. But he continued to receive his priest’s salary.
Laicization means Oelrich can no longer minister or hold any leadership roles in the church. He will not receive a salary, housing or health benefits from the diocese, and is no longer permitted to use the title “father.”
Kettler encouraged anyone who has suffered abuse to report it to local law enforcement, and to contact the diocese for support. He also asked people to pray for healing for all survivors of sexual abuse “and for those wounded by the Church in any way.”