HOLLIDAYSBURG - The pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Newry has been placed on leave after accusations arose of sexual misconduct with a minor in the 1990s, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown said Friday evening.
Bishop Mark L. Bartchak issued a release stating that he placed Monsignor Anthony B. Little, 58, on leave from active ministry. Little will not be permitted to function as a priest and will reside in a place where he has no contact with children while on leave.
Bartchak met with Little on Friday to inform him of the allegations, Tony DeGol, diocesan secretary for communications, said.
No further action concerning Little will be taken by the diocese at this time, the release stated.
Bartchak talked with Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio on Friday to inform him of the allegations against Little, DeGol said.
Father Raymond Crosser, a senior priest of the diocese, will serve as temporary administrator of St. Patrick Parish. The usual Mass and sacramental schedule at the parish will continue, DeGol said.
Little has been with the St. Patrick Parish since July 2002.
Prior to that, he served at St. Therese of the Child Jesus on Fifth Street in Altoona, according to diocese records.
Little was ordained in May 1982 by Bishop James Hogan at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament and has served in the diocese since then.
Prior to coming to St. Therese, Little was pastor at two smaller parishes simultaneously: St. Edward in Barnesboro and Most Precious Blood in Emigh.
Those parishes since have merged into a larger parish in Northern Cambria, DeGol said.
Before that, Little served as parochial vicar at three parishes: St. Mary in Hollidaysburg, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona and Our Mother of Sorrows in Johnstown.
A letter from the bishop will be read to parishioners at all Masses this weekend, DeGol said.
"These accusations are very painful," Bartchak said in a statement. "I pledge to continue taking whatever action is necessary to protect all of God's precious children in our church. I encourage the faithful to join me in praying for the alleged victim in this case and all victims of sexual abuse in society. I also ask that you remember the good people of St. Patrick Parish as they learn about this sad news. May God grant them comfort."
Bartchak notified Consiglio about the accusations against Little in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the release said. The charter was established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.