Altoona Diocese suspends priest

A Catholic priest who has served a Somerset County parish has been suspended from public ministry for an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor in the 1980s.

The priest in question, the Rev. Michael Lewandowski, has served the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese since 1997 as pastor of St. Anne Parish in Davidsville.

Although he has served the diocese, he is a Franciscan priest of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and was suspended by his order.

Religious orders like the Franciscans assist the diocese in staffing parishes, but have some autonomy in its relation to the diocese.

Upon receiving notice that the Franciscan order had suspended Lewandowski, Bishop Mark L. Bartchak withdrew Lewandowski’s faculties to function as a priest in the diocese, according to a diocese media advisory that was sent Sunday.

Officials of the Franciscan Order at Our Lady of the Angels Province in Ellicott City, Md., reported the allegation to civil authorities, the media advisory stated.

The advisory also stated that the Franciscans and Altoona-Johnstown Diocese are unaware of any other allegations of misconduct against Lewandowski.