Saturday, January 13, 2007

(Alleged) Clerical Sin-O-Rama

As if losing Bill Sullivan after a short illness wasn't enough, 2007's already shown itself to be a difficult year for the diocese of Richmond.

Earlier in the week, the story broke of a midstate priest charged with embezzling in excess of $600K from the coffers of his two parishes over the last five years.
Church officials learned of the alleged thefts in November, when a donation was not acknowledged and the parish could find no record of it, said William Etherington, an attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond...

Rodis was ordained a priest in his native Philippines in 1986 and has lived in the United States since 1991. He began serving at the Louisa parishes in 1993, Etherington said.

Vicky Harte, a parishioner at St. Jude, called Rodis a friendly, people-centered church leader whose personality made him well-liked among parishioners. Rodis got along especially well with children, Harte said.

"It was really hard for all of them to understand that this has happened," she said.

OK, so it's crazy, really stupid, etc., but nothing cataclysmic. We've been hearing about the alleged depth of money issues these last few weeks, Richmond's books are far from dire straits, and Rodis can be grateful that his superior isn't Donald Wuerl -- of whom it's been said that, if he finds out about someone playing games with the till, will, himself, take the guy to jail.

Whatever the Virginia story was before, it got much weirder today: Times-Dispatch seems to indicate where the money was going: to support Fr Rodis' wife, and three children.
A court document listed Rodis as living with a "wife" and three children, without tying the children to Rodis. Louisa Commonwealth's Attorney R. Don Short declined to comment on why the word "wife" was on the document, but he confirmed that the court document was filled out accurately.

Neighbors say Rodis, a woman he referred to as his wife, and three children have lived together in the two-story brick home on Watson Lane for at least eight years.

They estimate the ages of the three girls as early 20s, early teens and between 5 and 8. Rodis told neighbors he was in the import-export business, they say, and he was often gone for days or weeks at a time.

"I did think there was something strange. He was always vague about what he did," said King, adding she thought he might be in the federal witness-protection program.

Another neighbor said he was never sure what Rodis did. "It all makes sense now. I would always see him leaving very early on Sunday mornings," said the man, who spoke on condition that he not be named.

Rodis generally arrived home from work in the late afternoons, typically wearing khakis and a white or blue shirt. "Never a [priest's] collar," the man added....

Neighbors referred to a woman named Joyce as being his wife.

The Spotsylvania County real estate assessment Web site lists a Joyce Sillador as owner of the house on Watson Lane in the Sheraton Hills East subdivision. It was assessed at $240,900 in 2006, according to the Web site.

A woman answering the door at that address answered, "Yes," when asked if Rodney Rodis lived there. Asked whether she was his wife, the woman replied, "I gotta go now," and closed the door.

At least five neighbors identified Rodis as the same man pictured in newspaper articles about the priest yesterday.

Four of the neighbors said the woman has worked as a nurse.

One neighbor recalled Rodis telling her that he planned to become mayor of his hometown in the Philippines and eventually president of that country.

The neighbor, who spoke on condition that she not be named, described the family as pleasant. The couple had remodeled the home over the years, putting in new hardwood floors, which the woman said she saw when she was invited over for Christmas and birthday gatherings.

The family also held a party when the youngest girl, then several months old, was baptized at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fredericksburg, which is part of the Diocese of Arlington and which a neighbor said the woman and children attended.

Rodis asked a neighbor he had known for a few years to be the girl's godfather, and the man accepted, neighbors said.

The home in Fredericksburg is outside the diocese of Richmond and about an hour from Rodis' parishes in Louisa.

No pastoral provision -- or, alternatively, involvement with the Milingo sect -- has to date been uncovered.