February 04, 2005

Former parishioners try to save priest's image

The Press-Enterprise

11:27 PM PST on Thursday, February 3, 2005

By MICHAEL FISHER / The Press-Enterprise

When Diane Lamb wed in 1976, the Riverside woman vowed that her family's former priest, the Rev. Theodore Feely, would perform the ceremony.

"He was just a wonderful man," said Lamb, now 48. "I changed parishes because it meant that much to me that he officiate over my wedding."

Nearly two decades later, Lamb is organizing a group of former Queen of Angels parishioners who are defending Feely, accused in recent months of molesting two boys in Rockford, Ill., during the1970s.

The Riverside group, who grew up revering the Franciscan friar in the 1960s, are gathering signatures to send to Feely's religious order, hoping to preserve his memory as a quiet, spiritual priest who died in 1991.

"I believe to my soul that he didn't do it," said Lamb's brother, Robin Woolsey, 50, who suspects Feely's accusers are trying to cash-in on the clergy sex scandal gripping the Catholic Church. "It's an opportunity to make a buck by leveling charges that really can't be defended."

Posted by kshaw at February 4, 2005 05:11 AM