An official with the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has confirmed that an investigation into alleged financial irregularities at St. James Church in Carbonear is underway.
Archdeacon Sandra Tilley, the executive officer with the diocese, also confirmed that the rector at St. James, Rev. Mark Janes, "has been granted a leave of absence."
Parishioners at St. James were informed of the situation during a church service on Sunday, March 23, in a letter from the bishop, Right Rev. Geoff Peddle.
"Information has been received which suggest possible financial irregularities in the Parish of St. James," Tilley told The Compass.
"An investigation is required to determine the facts."
She said the legal representative for the diocese, known as the chancellor, has advised that no further information be disclosed while the investigation is ongoing.
In the interim, Hugh Fudge, a retired minister, will administer the affairs of the parish, Tilley added.
Tilley would not comment on how much money might be involved.
Janes, who has ministered in Carbonear for the past two years, declined comment when contacted Tuesday. He has been a minister for 13 years, and previously served in Bay Roberts at St. Matthew's for six years. He also served in Labrador City-Wabush.
The Compass reached out to several members of the parish, but all declined to comment publicly. One parishioner said there was general "shock and disbelief" over the allegations, and described the matter as "very delicate."
News of the investigation and leave of absence comes at a historic time for the parish, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The church serves roughly 200 families in the Carbonear area, though a typical weekend service attracts between 50 and 70 people.
And the situation is a further blow to the diocese, which oversees 35 parishes. A case of alleged fraud against another minister, Rev. John Dinn, and his wife is now makings its way through the court system. Dinn was rector at St. John the Evangelist Church in Topsail.
"I am very restricted in what I can say," Tilley stressed. "I'm not free to comment on any of it."