The Archdiocese of Boston yesterday suspended the pastor of St. Eulalia’s Church in Winchester after learning that he had recently been accused of molesting a minor more than 20 years ago.
The Rev. Victor C. LaVoie, 57, is the 17th priest the archdiocese has removed over allegations of sexual abuse since January.
Ordained as a priest in 1971, LaVoie has been assigned to St. Eulalia’s since 1995. He could not be reached for comment and a phone call to the rectory went unanswered last night.
A church official who declined to be identified said that the archdiocese had learned of the allegation this week from a representative of the Middlesex district attorney’s office.
LaVoie was associate pastor at St. Thomas of Villanova Church in Wilmington in the early 1980s. Before taking over as pastor at St. Eulalia’s, LaVoie was chaplain at the Lahey Clinic and resided at St. Malachy’s Church in Burlington, according to the Boston Catholic Directory.
LaVoie will continue to receive his salary and benefits while the archdiocese conducts a separate investigation into the allegation. Although the archdiocese began suspending priests on credible allegations of abuse as early as February, its review board that is investigating the complaints has yet to announce any decisions in the cases, a spokesperson said recently.
Hundreds of parishioners attended a prayer meeting at St. Eulalia’s last night to discuss LaVoie’s suspension and to pray for him.
According to several parishioners, LaVoie was a strong supporter of the Voice of the Faithful, allowing the lay group to meet weekly at the church.
In a statement, LaVoie told the congregation that ”he was at peace because he knows [the allegation] is untrue,” said Dee Ingalls, who has attended St. Eulalia’s for 25 years. ”He was a wonderful pastor. It’s a mourning period for us.”