The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Pastor keeps promise to dying priest, enters rehab

A priest in Massachusetts made an unusual announcement to his parishioners — and it happened under unusual circumstances:

Members of St. Lucy Parish received some surprising news in the bulletin this weekend.

In his weekly letter to parishioners, the Rev. Richard Burton, pastor at St. Lucy Parish, admitted that he has an alcohol problem.

“For my own health and to answer God’s call to the holiness of the priesthood with which I am blessed, I have asked for help,” he wrote.

Tomorrow, Burton will go to the Guest House at Rochester, a treatment center for Catholic clergy in Minnesota. According to its web site, Guest House is a nonprofit, charitable organization opened in Michigan in 1956. Its mission is the treatment of Catholic priests, deacons, brothers, seminarians and — since 1994 — nuns with alcoholism, other chemical dependencies and related problems.


Burton did not speak of the contents of the letter in his homily during yesterday’s 4 p.m. Mass. At the end of the service, he told parishioners the Rev. William Kremmell will serve at St. Lucy while he is gone. Kremmell, a priest since 1966, retired from St. Athanasius parish in Reading.

In an interview after Mass, Burton said he was keeping a promise he made to the Rev. Dennis Nason before Nason died on Oct. 4. Nason, the long-time pastor of All Saints Parish in Haverhill, sponsored Burton when he entered the priesthood.

“He told me, ‘I can’t tell you what to do, but I’ll pray for you,'” Burton said.

Burton then told Nason he would seek professional help, to which Nason responded, “It’s a good idea.”


“There’s no scandal, but if I disappear, the first thing people were going to wonder was, ‘What did he do?'” Burton said yesterday. “I just wanted to be up front and deal with it. In this day and age when so many thing things are happening in the church, I didn’t want anyone gossiping about me.”

Bless him, and pray for him. You can read more at the link.

Comments read comments(6)
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Dcn Scott

posted October 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm

This nothing except grace at work. Thanks for highlighting it

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Mike L

posted October 24, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Alcoholism seems to be a working hazard for many clergy, I hope many more find the grace to get help.

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Ivo Arrey A.

posted October 24, 2010 at 7:35 pm

The Roman Catholic Church still remains the only charismatic Christian Church on Earth, even though most pentecostal churches have decided to criticize the Catholic Faith. Most Pastors have embarked on preaching about the Catholic Church, rather than preaching The Good News of Jesus.

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Joe Cleary

posted October 24, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Prayers and blesssings for Father Burton.
Still how sad that he publicly admitted his problem because of what the gossip would have suspected had he just disappeared or taken an unexplained leave.

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posted October 25, 2010 at 10:31 am

I like to believe that he admitted it through the grace of courage and humility.
Peace to all

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posted October 25, 2010 at 10:37 am

God’s blessings to Rev. Burton. Truth is so refreshing. Who among us is perfect? Let he who is without sin (or for that matter any weakness at all) throw the first stone. Only God’s grace saves us all.

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