The pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Hudson, Wis., was removed Monday for stealing more than $10,000 from a parish charity account to feed his gambling addiction, church officials said.
The ouster of the Rev. Daniel J. Dahlberg, 68, was announced in a letter to parishioners by two church trustees.
"Fr. Dan is leaving us because he has taken and wrongfully appropriated for his own use a significant amount of money," the letter read.
The $10,800 came from a fund meant "to help needy families in confidence," the letter added. A "system of checks and balances" detected the theft.
Trustees Samuel Cari and Claire Zajac said they have made arrangements for Dahlberg to repay the money, which was used for a gambling addiction that put him in financial trouble and impaired his judgment.
Dahlberg has been replaced on an interim basis by the Rev. Gene Murphy. Dahlberg did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
The bishop of the Superior Diocese, the Rev. Peter Christensen, will visit the parish this weekend to answer questions, the letter said.
Dahlberg came to St. Patrick in 2009. He had been the diocese's vicar general, the second highest post in the Diocese of Superior, from 1998 until he stepped down in November. That move "was not connected to the issue at hand," said Richard Lyons, director of administrative services for the diocese.
Dahlberg is now on administrative leave while he receives gambling-addiction treatment, Lyons said.
Zajac said the parish leadership has yet to decide whether to pursue criminal charges and is "looking for parishioners to express their feelings." The parish has reported the theft to the St. Croix County district attorney's office, she said.
Several years ago, St. Patrick's parishioners were stunned when one of its priests was implicated in the 2002 murder of Hudson funeral director Daniel O' Connell and funeral home intern James Ellison. The Rev. Ryan Erickson hanged himself in 2004. Nearly a year later, a St. Croix County judge ruled Erickson likely was responsible for killing the two men and probably molested at least one teenage boy.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482