A priest of the Diocese of Springfield is on leave after he dialed 911 asking for help getting out of handcuffs – a call that has been replayed across the internet.
Diocesan spokeswoman Kathie Sass told CNA Jan. 10 that Father Tom Donovan, pastor of St. Aloysius Church in Springfield, approached Bishop Thomas Paprocki about the incident prior to Christmas and before it attracted media attention.
Sass said the priest “asked for help and was granted leave to deal with personal issues.” She added that he is “away from the parish.”
Sass told CNA that the police gave assistance to the priest. The police report indicated that there was no crime, she said.
Although the incident took place in November, it first drew widespread media attention in early January. A recorded audio file of the priest’s 911 call published on the Illinois Times website has been played over 95,000 times.
In the phone call, which the priest made from the church early on the morning of Nov. 28, he tells the 911 dispatcher he is stuck in a pair of handcuffs and is the only one in his church. He said he feared a medical emergency if he was not helped.
Police said the priest was wearing an orange jumpsuit and a mask with a gag in his mouth, the St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK reports.
“It's hard to see something happen to one of our priests and we continue as a diocese, especially the parishes where Father Donovan worked, continue to offer our prayers for his well being,” Sass told KSDK.