Kalamazoo diocese priest suspected of mismanaging funds suspended

Posted at 2:14 PM, Oct 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-09 14:17:26-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo announced Sunday afternoon that a priest had been suspended after an audit uncovered “questionable financial transactions” and practices for the past six years.

This weekend at all the Masses, those attending St. Mary Assumption, Bronson, and St. Barbara Parish, Colon, were informed that an independent accounting firm, at the request of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, had completed a forensic audit of both St. Mary’s Assumption, Bronson, and St. Barbara, Colon, that detailed questionable financial transactions and practices from 2010-2016.

A day after receiving the audit report, Bishop Paul Bradley accepted the resignation of the Rev. Richard Fritz, 69, as pastor on Thursday and temporarily suspended his priestly faculties (his ability to exercise public ministry).

Fritz no longer resides at the rectory.

The Very Rev. Mark Vyverman, dean of the Eastern Deanery and pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Coldwater, and Our Lady of Fatima, Union City, has assumed the role of pastor of St. Mary’s Assumption Parish, which is part of the Parish Collaborative effective this past July 1.

The diocese began its internal review of the matter after suspected irregularities were reported last spring. In June, immediately after establishing that there were irregularities, Fritz’s access to parish funds was removed.

The alleged financial mismanagement of the parish funds of St. Mary Assumption, Bronson and St. Barbara, Colon, relates to suspected inappropriate checks distributed between 2010-2016. The diocese is currently reviewing financial records of both parishes prior to 2010 to identify additional potential losses.

The Michigan State Police are currently conducting their own investigation with cooperation from the diocese.

Fritz’s assignments have included the following:

  • 1990-October 6, 2016, Pastor St. Mary Parish, Bronson
  • 1996-July 1, 2016, Pastor St. Barbara Mission, Colon
  • 1988-1990, Pastor St. Basil Parish, South Haven
  • 1983-1988, Pastor Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Brigman
  • 1980-1983, Associate Pastor St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Coldwater
  • 1978-1980, Associate Pastor St. Philip Parish, Battle Creek