Father Paisius deposed from office and defrocked as priest

Author: Roni Toldanes
Date Published: 03/21/2015
Father Paisius DeLucia has been defrocked as a priest, church authorities said in a statement Saturday. (DAILY MIRROR FILE PHOTO)
Father Paisius DeLucia has been defrocked as a priest, church authorities said in a statement Saturday. (DAILY MIRROR FILE PHOTO)

Archpriest Paisius DeLucia, rector of St. Innocent’s Academy in Kodiak, has been deposed from his office and defrocked as a priest after his church’s Diocesan Spiritual Court launched an investigation and heard testimonies from former students about allegations of physical and verbal abuse, a church statement said Saturday.

The Diocesan Spiritual Court, which met in East Syracuse, New York, on March 19-21 to consider the allegations against DeLucia, made the announcement one month after placing Father Paisius on leave of absence.

“Archpriest Paisius attended the Diocesan Spiritual Court and was provided an opportunity to respond to all pastoral-related allegations,” the statement said.

The court, tasked to hear cases of violations of the church’s canons, said it recommended actions against Father Paisius to Metropolitan Joseph, the highest-ranking official of the diocese. The statement said the court proceedings were not open to the public.

“Effective immediately, Archpriest Paisius DeLucia is deposed from his office and defrocked as a priest,” Metropolitan Joseph said in the statement.

He said DeLucia is not excommunicated from the church and the decision can be appealed “within the next two weeks” and is subject to approval by higher church authorities.

In issuing his decision against DeLucia, Metropolitan Joseph cited violations of five of the church’s bylaws, “demonstrated by acts including publicly shaming people, using vulgar language, unbecoming behavior while serving the Sacraments, stopping Divine Liturgy to discipline another, violating the Mystery of confession, using improper pastoral approaches towards the faithful, and more ecclesiastical violations.”

At least 15 former academy students have posted their allegations through the website academyabuse.info, saying they’ve either experienced or witnessed physical abuse at the academy.

“Father Paisius is gone. He’s not coming back to Alaska. He’s no longer a priest,” said Samuel Dank, one of the former students who helped build the website. “All of his authorities were taken away from him. He is not allowed to hear confession. The church said he’s a bad dude.”

Father Paisius could not be immediately reached for comment Saturday.

When it first broke the news about the allegations in January, the Kodiak Daily Mirror sought comments from St. Innocent’s Academy. The school issued a statement through its secretary, Anna Spencer, who acknowledged the severity of the allegations, but said, “it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”

The Alaska State Troopers previously said they are investigating the allegations. De Lucia has not been charged with any crime.

The academy for high school age boys or older is affiliated with the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese.