NY religious sister in court after $128,000 theft

By Kevin J. Jones

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A religious sister who served as pastoral associate at two parishes in western New York faces grand larceny charges after she allegedly stole $128,000 from the parishes.

Kevin Keenan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Buffalo, commented on the charges Nov. 5.

“It’s always disappointing when people in positions of trust apparently violate that trust,” he told EWTN News. “Parishioners are hard working people and they donated money to the parish with the expectation that that money would be put toward ministry and other parish operations.”

Sister Mary Anne Rapp was scheduled to appear in Kendall Town Court on Nov. 5 to answer the charges. She had been pastoral associate at two “linked parishes” – St. Mary’s Church in Holley, N.Y. and St. Mark’s Church in Kendall.

In September 2010, the parishes’ new pastor requested a “new pastor audit,” which began in November 2010 and lasted about four months.

“Based on the findings of that audit, there were some discrepancies. There was some money missing,” Keenan said. “The findings of that audit were turned over to the Orleans County district attorney so that his staff could determine whether criminal charges were warranted.”

Sr. Rapp was placed on administrative leave in February 2011. Her appointment was terminated two months later.

Sister Edith Wyss, the head of the Holy Name Province for the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, said in a Nov. 5 statement that Sr. Rapp entered into a gambling addiction treatment program in Feb. 2011 when she was placed on leave.

"She spent 9½ months in an in-patient treatment program and has maintained her recovery in the year since. As sisters we continue to pray for Sister Mary Anne and help her deal with her addiction, which sadly is prevalent in our society," Sr. Wyss said. 

Keenan said the diocese has implemented “a series of procedures in the parish to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

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