Three Hamburg priests — on leave of absence since being accused of inappropriate remarks at a party with seminarians — are being returned to their assignments, Bishop Richard J. Malone announced Saturday.
The reinstatement of the Rev. Arthur E. Mattulke, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Church in Hamburg; the Rev. Patrick T. O’Keefe, parochial vicar of SS. Peter and Paul; and the Rev. Robert J. Orlowski, pastor of Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Blasdell, will be effective next Friday, the bishop said.
Malone said he reached his decision after consulting his director of professional responsibility, his senior staff and other diocesan and parish leaders.
Malone said three factors entered into his considerations:
“First, the seminarians are to be lauded for coming forward and discussing what happened.
“While there were inappropriate topics discussed, there was absolutely no inappropriate physical conduct by any of the three priests.
“It was of primary importance these priests were held accountable for their actions. Thus, each has received corrective measures, including retraining in the Diocesan Code of Conduct and internal policies.”
Malone further noted that on Saturday he concelebrated the 175th anniversary Mass of SS. Peter and Paul with Mattulke and O’Keefe and “was pleased they could be a part of the parish community’s celebration on this important day in the history of the parish.”
The three priests were placed on leave shortly after the incident at a party April 11 at SS. Peter and Paul attended by seminarians from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora.
After the party, seminarians told seminary officials that “they were uncomfortable with what they felt was inappropriate conversation and stories being shared by some of the priests,” according to a news release from the seminary in April.