The Luxury Life of Fr. Michael Jude Fay
*** Scroll down for updates ***
ORIGINAL POST: July 29, 2006
As many other priests work hard at their parishes, there are some who stain the title of a "priest" with their bad behavior. Sadly, the latter are the ones who make the news. The latest is Fr. Michael Jude Fay from Connecticut. The Associated Press reports:
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. Jul 28, 2006 (AP)- A priest who resigned from a church in an affluent Connecticut community misspent up to $1.4 million in parishioner donations to lead a life of luxury with another man, according to a church-directed investigation.
The Rev. Michael Jude Fay spent church money on limousines, stays at top hotels, jewelry, Italian clothing and a Florida condominium shared with the other man, auditors hired by the diocese found. About half the money he spent was kept in a secret bank account, according to their report, which was mailed Friday to 1,700 parishioners of the Darien church and obtained in advance by The Associated Press.
The report describes a parish finance council that did not meet regularly in recent years, largely because of Fay's health and absences from the parish. Fay was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and frequently cited his health when asked about church finances, the report states.
He had cancer!!! I'm not surprised with the bad karma. The report lists more spending by Fr. Fay:
Fay shopped at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, drove a Jaguar, attended a sports club, bought jewelry from Cartier, spent $130,000 for limo rides for himself and his mother and stayed at hotels such as the Ritz Carlton, Hotel De Paris and the Four Seasons Hotel, the auditors found. He spent tens of thousands of dollars on home furnishings and meals and more than $20,000 to mark the 25th anniversary of his ordination, according to the report.
None of the priests I know drives a Jaquar. The Jaquar should have made the parishioners question his financial habits.
UPDATE I - Sept. 14, 2007
Well, it looks like Fr. Michael Jude Fay came to his senses on Wednesday. The New York Times reports:
NEW HAVEN, Sept. 12 — The Rev. Michael Jude Fay, a Roman Catholic priest with a taste for high living, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal charges of defrauding his parishioners of nearly $1 million from 1999 to 2006, when he was forced to resign.
Now living in Florida in an ocean-view condominium he bought using church funds, Father Fay has been formally relieved of his ability to perform priestly duties. He remains a priest, according to Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese, but court officials referred to him repeatedly as “Mr. Fay.”.
Surprisingly, Fr. Fay has admirers too. A Dave L. sent me the following e-mail on Aug. 28, 2007:
Yes. What Fr. Jude did was wrong. But did you ever hear what he did right? Did you ever attend one of his sermons and hear him speak? Did you ever feel the Spirit of Christ standing at the pulpit and speaking to the congregation? While it is correct to point out the wrongs of others - especially egregious wrongs - remember: everyone has "rights" that stand sometimes anonymously on their own.
Sure, even Hollywood script writers can write homilies that make you feel the Spirit of Christ. Parishioners expect more than words from their pastors. They expect good actions to follow in their daily lives.
Don't ever put all priests in one basket. There's a major difference between the luxury life of Fr. Fay and the sacrifices of priests like the late Fr. Ragheed Ganni.
UPDATE II: August 24, 2009
The Darian Timesreports the death of Fr. Fay:
The Rev. Michael Jude Fay, the longtime pastor who stole more than $1 million from Darien's oldest Catholic parish, died Saturday in a Butner, N.C., federal prison.
Father Fay, 58, was suffering from prostate cancer. He was 10 months into a 37-month sentence for the theft.
The Diocese of Bridgeport confirmed the death with The Darien Times, which was first to report the news Saturday. No other details were released by the diocese.