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Bishop Burbidge Celebrates Mass at Mount Olive, Beulaville and Magnolia

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On January 16-17, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass at Maria Reina Parish in Mount Olive, Santa Teresa Mission in Beulaville and Santa Clara Mission in Magnolia. Bishop Burbidge’s presence at the Masses was announced last week by Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese, upon informing the three Catholic communities that the Bishop was suspending the priestly faculty of Fr. Edgar Sepulveda, Pastor the Maria Reina and the two mission churches. The suspension resulted when charges of second degree sexual offense and misdemeanor sexual battery were placed against Fr. Sepulveda on January 8, 2010, by Brunswick County authorities.

Following the celebration of Mass at each of the parishes, Bishop Burbidge met with parishioners to provide any necessary clarifications and to answer any of their questions.  The Bishop said Fr. Sepulveda, his parishioners, the person who brought forth the allegation and all impacted by this situation have the Bishop’s prayerful support. Bishop Burbidge said this is a difficult time for everyone involved and asked the faithful to join him in prayer as we entrust this situation to God’s providential care and seek His truth, justice and mercy.

While Fr. Sepulveda maintains the title of pastor, Bishop Burbidge informed the  parishioners he has appointed Fr. Ned Shlesinger as Administrator of Maria Reina and the two mission churches at this time.  Fr. Shlesinger is Diocesan Vocations Director and has previously served as Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Newton Grove.