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Priest removed from Conway Springs gets new assignment in the Wichita Diocese

A screenshot shows the heading of a letter sent by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita to parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church announcing the Rev. Andrew Seiler would not return as pastor.
A screenshot shows the heading of a letter sent by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita to parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church announcing the Rev. Andrew Seiler would not return as pastor. Screenshot

The priest who was removed from his Conway Springs parish after an unaccompanied hiking trip with children has a new assignment in the diocese, at a retirement community.

The Rev. Andrew Seiler was removed from St. Joseph Catholic Church to participate in “a personal and priestly assessment” including counseling after the trip in October.

At the time, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita said in a letter that there were no allegations of abuse against Seiler and that “no harm was done to the children.” Being alone with a minor goes against behavioral boundaries set by the diocese.

His new assignment is to the Catholic Care Center, where he will be associate chaplain, according to the diocesan newspaper The Catholic Advance. Seiler’s assignment was listed among several priest assignments for 2018. He began his time at the Catholic Care Center at the beginning of May, according to The Advance.

Cindy LaFleur, executive director of the Catholic Care Center, said in a phone call that they “have a very open dialogue and communications with the diocese” when asked whether there were concerns about Seiler being removed from his previous parish.

"We're grateful to have another chaplain assigned our community,” LaFleur said. “We have a very large community of residents at various levels of care needs on our campus, so having a chaplain assigned to help us with our residents, families and associates is really a gift to us.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita said he had no comment on priest assignments. The diocese did not answer questions emailed Tuesday about Seiler’s assignment.

The Catholic Care Center is a continuing-care retirement community in Bel Aire. Ascension Health, which also owns Via Christi Health, is the nursing home’s parent company.

Katherine Burgess: 316-268-6400, @kathsburgess.
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