Fr. Michael Jude Fay, a Connecticut priest who was found guilty of embezzling $1 million from his parish, died of prostate cancer on Saturday at the age of 58.
His death was reported in a statement sent to CNA by the Diocese of Bridgeport.
The diocese also encouraged the faithful to “pray for the repose of Father Fay's soul” and offered its “prayers and condolences to his mother and family.”
Fr. Fay had been senior pastor at St. John’s Catholic Church in Stamford, Connecticut from 1991 to 2006. After a 2007 trial, he pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud.
According to the Stamford Advocate, he used the money to buy expensive designer clothing, Cartier jewelry, limousine rides and Ethan Allen furniture.
The priest died after having served almost one year of his three-year sentence.
His crimes gained additional attention when it was revealed that his assistant pastor, then-Fr. Michael Madden, had joined with parish bookkeeper Bethany D’Erario to hire a private investigator to look into the pastor.
Madden, who has since left the priesthood, has claimed that Bishop of Bridgeport William Lori retaliated against him for his actions.
D’Erario has also filed a lawsuit charging that the diocese forced her to resign and cut her benefits. The diocese denies the charges.
Reacting to the death of Fr. Fay, current senior pastor of St. John’s Church Msgr. Frank McGrath said that most people are looking forward to “moving on.”
“It was a great shock spiritually and people were inundated with so much media information," he told the Stamford Advocate.
Other parishioners are grieving for Fr. Fay despite his actions.
In the aftermath of the scandal, Msgr. McGrath said, the parish has strengthened.
“They pulled together and thought about what's fundamental and basic," he explained.
Ken Byrne, a member of the parish council, said the investigation prompted a “reawakening” and turned complacency into activity.