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GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) - The parishioners of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish in Grand Haven were informed Sunday that an employee had been taking cash from the offering plate.

Father Bill Langlois announced the revelation over the weekend to parishioners. The case has been turned over to the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety. WZZM 13 has confirmed the name of the employee is 73 year old Joseph Finnigan.

Our news partner the Grand Haven Tribune reports Finngan was fired last week. He is now charged with embezzling more than $20,000. He pled not guilty today during his arraignment in 58th District Court.

Below is the complete statement from Fr. Langlois:

Dear St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parishioners,

Sadly, I must inform you that a St. Patrick-St. Anthony employee has admitted to taking cash from the weekend offertory collection; it appears to have taken place over an extended period of time. The worker was immediately terminated. A subsequent review of financial records has been handed over to the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety as required by diocesan policy.

As in any parish, we have protocols in place to prevent thefts, or at least make them difficult. No set of protocols is foolproof; however we are working with the Diocese of Grand Rapids to review and enhance these procedures. So as not to interfere with the individual's investigation and prosecution, all further information will be controlled by the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety and the Ottawa County Prosecutor. The individual's name will not be released at this time and I ask that you respect his privacy in this matter.

This incident reminds us of the need to be vigilant. As well, it calls us to remember Jesus' call to pray for those who injure us. As we strive to be good, responsible stewards of God's gifts, let us also pray for those who have injured our community.

God bless,

Fr. Bill

"This announcement was the most difficult message I have ever had to make to the congregation. I delivered the same message at four liturgies and each time it was more painful.

I know that the parish is hurt, they feel betrayed. We will all be grieving together, but with the Good Lord's help, we will rise above this matter. While the behavior cannot be condoned, we must establish a spirit of forgiveness and seek reconciliation".

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