Priest bolting from parish raises questions

Father Ravi Kiran

GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico priest has bolted from his parish. Now people have questions: Where did he go, and did he take some of the church’s money with him?

When Father Ravi Kiran transferred from a Catholic Diocese in India to the Gallup Diocese in 2009, he started making changes to Saint Anthony Zuni Mission and School.

Parishoners said he upgraded the parsonage, school and convent, which were all in desperate need of repair.

“Father Ravi was a wonderful priest,” said parishoner Joseph Sweeney. “He increased church attendance. He’s improved the campus tremendously.”

Sources tell KRQE News 13 the way he spent money divided the congregation and some left altogether.

A few weeks ago, to the shock of the congregation and the Diocese, Kiran left and went back to India. A spokesperson for the Diocese says he did not give them notification.

Sources say the Gallup Diocese is investigating what happened with a Saint Anthony’s account, originally set up by Fransican priests, that used to have a couple million dollars more in it.

A spokesperson for the diocese confirmed they’re investigating, but wouldn’t confirm the amount of money that’s in question.

“We just started looking into it, so it’s very preliminary at this stage,” said Suzanne Hammons, spokesperson for the Diocese.

Hammons says there’s no criminal investigation at this point. Kiran’s supporters say the money accusations are just rumors.

“It seems to me, it might be the same group of people trying to stir problems for a good priest,” Sweeney said.

The Gallup Diocese is in the middle of Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it tries to sort out the sexual abuse claims made against former priests.

The Diocese asked the court not to count individual church bank accounts as belonging to the Diocese, but the judge hasn’t made a decision on that yet.

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