UPDATED — Msgr. Gregory J. Parlante, 61, former pastor of St. Cornelius Parish in Chadds Ford, was arrested Thursday, Jan. 25 for allegedly stealing money from church collections and using it to buy drugs and drug paraphernalia online.
The priest had resigned as pastor from the Delaware County parish last May to recover from what he told parishioners in a church bulletin announcement was a “near-death illness” in order to “devote my time to becoming well.”
When parish staff subsequently cleaned out his desk May 30, they discovered a postal package addressed to him and discovered possible evidence of illegal drugs.
Pennsylvania State Police executed a search warrant at that time to investigate the contents of the package and discovered drug paraphernalia consisting of clear plastic bags and straws, as well as a white crystalline substance. Later tests revealed it to be illegal methamphetamine – a highly addictive and destructive stimulant.
During the course of their investigation and interviews with parish staff and volunteers, the police allege Msgr. Parlante stole approximately $5,500 in church collections from January to March 2017 and deposited the money into his private bank account.
The affidavit of probable cause states Msgr. Parlante “was making his narcotics purchase using money from (his) account via various sources such as PayPal and other forms of electronic transactions” and shipping them to the St. Cornelius rectory.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese and the parish have cooperated fully in the investigation, according to a statement Jan. 25 by the archdiocese.
Msgr. Parlante, who has been a priest of the archdiocese for 35 years and served as pastor of St. Cornelius for years, faces two misdemeanor charges — knowing or intentional possession of a controlled substance and use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia – and one felony charge, theft by unlawful taking or disposition.
The current pastor of St. Cornelius, Msgr. David E. Diamond, communicated news of Msgr. Parlante’s arrest with parishioners at all Masses last weekend, Jan. 27-28.
A preliminary hearing for Msgr. Parlante is scheduled for Feb. 8 before Magisterial District Judge Wendy B. Roberts in Glen Mills, Delaware County.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103