WOONSOCKET – Citing a “credible allegation of sexual misconduct” that occurred more than three decades ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence announced that it has placed the Rev. Monsignor John Allard on administrative leave and accepted his resignation as the spiritual leader of two city parishes.
The pastor of St. Agatha’s and Precious Blood parishes “has taken responsibility for his actions and expressed profound remorse for the harm he has caused,” the diocese said in a prepared statement Monday.
Because of an ongoing criminal investigation by the state police and an internal probe by the Diocesan Office of Education and Compliance, no further information is being released at this time, according to Michael Guilfoyle, spokesman for the diocese.
“Allegations of abuse, even if they occurred many years ago, are taken very seriously and acted upon in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and diocesan policy,” Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said. “For the many who are affected by this heartbreaking news, I offer my prayers for healing and forgiveness.”
Allard has been stripped of his powers to perform priestly duties as a result of the disciplinary actions, and he has vacated the rectory. The diocese said Allard would reside in a private residence, but it did not say where.
Bishop Tobin has appointed the Rev. Wilfred Gregoire, a senior priest in residence at St. Agatha, as temporary administrator of the affected parishes.
“Bishop Tobin will meet with the parish staff this week and visit the parish community in the near future to provide spiritual and pastoral support,” the diocese said.
Allard is the second priest in less than a year from Precious Blood and St. Agatha’s to be defrocked over allegations of sexual misconduct that allegedly happened decades ago.
Last April, the diocese confirmed that the Rev. Timothy Gorton had been removed from priestly duties after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced about him some 30 years after the fact.
The allegations against Gorton surfaced from incidents that reportedly occurred in Narragansett and Cumberland, but he had served as assistant pastor of both St. Agatha’s and Precious Blood since July 1, 2008 before he was dismissed last spring.
Allard is a Woonsocket native who was ordained a priest in 1975 after graduating from the St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass. His first assignment was at the Immaculate Conception parish in Cranston, but he has been stationed at parishes in the Blackstone Valley continuously since roughly 1984, when he was transferred to St. Aloysius in Woonsocket.
From 1986 to 1996, he served at Our Lady of Good Help in Burrillville. After leaving that post, he became dual pastor of St. Agatha’s and Precious Blood, a position he held until being placed on administrative leave, sometime within the last few days.
In addition to his church-based duties, Allard held a number of other high-profile positions within various church-sponsored organizations during the same time period, many of them involving youth.
Those organizations including the Diocesan Office of Youth Ministry, where he served from 1984-1996, with residency at St. Louis Church in Woonsocket; the Diocesan Office of Evangelization and Spirituality from 1996-2001; and the Father Marot CYO Center in Woonsocket, where he served as chaplain since 2006.