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Church members push for priest's reinstatement

Posted at 10:11 PM, Nov 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-04 22:12:38-05

About 100 members of Parishioners for Justice gathered in Sanibel to show their support for Father Christopher Senk of St. Isabel Parish. He’s been on administrative leave for over two years.

He was accused of financially exploiting a parishioner.

“This is a community that totally supports this man. He’s just the most wonderful priest that you could ever imagine,” said Leslie Anding.

in 2016 the Lee County Sheriff’s Office found no evidence to charge Senk criminally, but he’s still on leave. Anding and other St. Isabel Parish members gathered outside of the Sanibel Health Club instead of their church because they said they’re prohibited from leading a vigil for him there.

“It’s very, very hurtful not just to Father Chris, but to our whole parish and several other parishes within the Archdiocese of Venice as well,” said Anding.

And now Parishioners for Justice is taking it a step further to see that Senk gets reinstated as priest at their church. Leo Larkin said last month they travelled to Rome with an attorney to convince the Vatican. 

“The parishioners did meet with the Pope and presented him with a package of information. He said he would read it. We hope that’s true,” he said.

Anding says the vigil tonight shows their determination.

“It’s frustrating but I think it’s important that he know, that the Bishop know, that Rome knows that we feel so strongly about this that none of us are giving up,” she said.

“We are strongly committed to this objective of freeing our pastor of the allegations that have been sent to him and his return to our parish,” said Larkin.

St. Isabel Parish has not responded to Fox 4’s request for comment at the time of this posting.