MOUNT UNION - The Most Rev. Mark L Bartchak, Bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, has placed Rev. George D. Koharchik, pastor of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish in Mount Union on leave from active ministry.
The actions are due to allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors in Cambria County dating back for more than 30 years, according to a news release from the diocese. Koharchik, 63, will not be allowed to function as a priest and will reside at a place where he has no contact with children, while on leave, according to the release.
Bartchak has notified the Cambria County District Attorney of the accusations against Koharchik. Koharchik's future status will be determined after consulting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. The report to the Vatican will not interfere with the jurisdiction of the District Attorney's office, Koharchik said.
Saint Catherine of Siena Parish will celebrate Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation this weekend with the normal schedule, with a visiting priest. A letter from Bartchak will be read to parishioners at all Masses. Daily Mass at the parish will not be celebrated during the week of Aug. 27. Bartchak will appoint a temporary administrator to oversee the parish's daily affairs. Until a new pastor is appointed, visiting priests will continue to celebrate Mass and the sacraments at Saint Catherine of Siena.
"Children are a precious gift from God, and we must always take the necessary steps to ensure their protection in the Catholic Church," Bartchak said in the release. "I pray for the alleged victims in this case and for all children who have suffered sexual abuse in our society. May the Lord grant them healing, comfort, and peace. Let us also remember the parish family of Saint Catherine of Siena in Mount Union during these difficult days. As Diocesan Bishop, I pledge my continued prayers and support to that faith community and the entire Church of Altoona-Johnstown."