Fargo Catholic Diocese puts priest on leave over concerns about 'his interaction with youth'

FARGO - The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has placed a priest on paid administrative leave after he told church officials about "concerns that had been brought to him regarding his interaction with youth," Bishop John Folda said in a statement Saturd...

FARGO - The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has placed a priest on paid administrative leave after he told church officials about "concerns that had been brought to him regarding his interaction with youth," Bishop John Folda said in a statement Saturday, May 27.

Father Thomas Feltman, pastor of St. John the Baptist's Catholic Church in Wyndmere, N.D., and St. Arnold's Catholic Church in Milnor, N.D., won't be performing any priestly duties and won't be living on diocesan property while the complaint is investigated, diocesan spokesman Paul Braun said.

Braun said the diocese has reported the matter to the Richland County Social Services. When asked to elaborate on Feltman's "interaction with youth," Braun declined to comment.

"The diocese is cooperating fully with authorities, but due to the ongoing investigation, the diocese is referring all questions to the Richland County Sheriff's Office," Braun said.

A phone message left Saturday for the sheriff's office investigator handling the case was not returned.

On Saturday, Bishop Folda told members of the Milnor and Wyndmere parishes that it was the previous week when Feltman told the diocese of the concerns about his dealings with youth.

"I want to assure you that the safety of our children and families is - and will remain - a priority for our Church," the bishop said in a statement. "I ask you to keep in your prayers our Church and everyone who may be affected by this matter."

Feltman has been a priest in the Fargo Diocese since he was ordained in 2001. He's been pastor of St. John the Baptist's and St. Arnold's since 2015. Braun said he did not know whether other similar complaints had been made against Feltman in the past.

Braun said Father Andrew Jasinski will serve as the temporary administrator of the Milnor and Wyndmere parishes.