A South American religious order, the Institute of the Incarnate Word, whose priests had been working in a rural parish in Co Wexford, has been suspended by Bishop Denis Brennan.
This follows the unexplained departure last month from Kilmyshall parish, outside Bunclody, of Argentinian-born Fr Ignacio Mikalonis.
The bishop has called in the Church’s national board for safeguarding children to investigate if the missing priest breached the Diocese of Ferns’s policies on the internet and safeguarding children.
The Diocese of Ferns severed its ties with the South American order following allegations against Fr Ignacio Mikalonis, who was serving in the Kilmyshall curacy.
In a statement, the diocese suggested the probe may focus on internet usage. “Bishop Brennan sought information from the institute in regard to the reasons for Fr Ignacio’s departure from Kilmyshall,” it said. “The response of the institute gave rise to concern that violations of diocesan internet policy and of safeguarding children, the Church’s standards and guidance documents may have occurred.”
Parishioners had been in the dark about why Fr Mikalonis left and were only told he was “no longer available for ministry”.
They have now been informed his order told the bishop there were “unspecified concerns” about him. This information was passed on to gardaí and to the HSE and a probe will be carried out.
Priests from the order came to run Kilmyshall parish a few years ago to help the vocations-strapped diocese. But the suspension of its activities means a second priest, Fr Marco Mikalonis, ironically a cousin of the missing cleric, is now leaving Kilmyshall also.
However, the diocese has stressed Fr Marco is in no way implicated, saying: “Fr Marco has departed for a new parish. This is no reflection, on him, however, and we wish him all the best in his new appointment.”
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