Father Jeffery L'Arche
Father Jeffery L'Arche

In light of information that surfaced when the Diocese of Springfield released its list of clergy offenders June 2, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has placed Father Jeffrey L’Arche, a priest of the LaSalette Missionaries and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam and St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman, on administrative leave, effective immediately. While on leave, Father L’Arche is barred from officiating at sacraments, wearing clerical garb, or presenting himself as a priest.  

The Diocese of Springfield’s Misconduct Commission found credible the single allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, which was alleged to have occurred sometime between 1976 and 1981. However, a subsequent investigation initiated by the LaSalette congregation and conducted by Praesidium Inc., found the allegation to be “highly questionable” and, therefore, not credible. As a result, Father L’Arche, who maintains his innocence, has an asterisk placed next to his name on the Springfield list, indicating the conflicting findings. His name, with an identical asterisk and note, has been added to the Diocese of Albany’s List of Offenders, which can be found on the diocesan website at www.rcda.org/offenders.

“There have been no allegations of abuse against Father L’Arche in the Diocese of Albany during the many years he has served here,” said Mary DeTurris Poust, director of communications for the Diocese of Albany. “The Catholic Church and the Diocese of Albany have a zero-tolerance policy. Barring any new evidence, or a change in status from the Springfield Diocese, this decision would be permanent.”

Born in Guilderland, Father L’Arche was ordained for the Missionaries of LaSalette in 1975. He served on the religious congregation’s ministry team for many years in Hartford, Conn.; Orlando, Fla., and Holyoke, Mass., before coming to the Diocese of Albany in 1997 to serve as director of Our Lady of LaSalette Shrine in Altamont. He served there until the shrine closed in 2015. In 2016, Father L’Arche was named pastor of St. Mary’s Church and Institute; in 2020 he took on leadership of St. Stephen’s as well.

Various priests will be filling in at Masses at the two parishes until a replacement can be found.

Bishop Scharfenberger’s action was taken in accordance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Albany Diocese’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse of children by clerics. In his six years as Bishop of Albany, Bishop Scharfenberger has been a national leader in responding to the clergy abuse crisis. He published a list of offenders in the Diocese in 2015, was among the first bishops in the country to call for an independent lay-led investigation of the scandal involving former Cardinal Theo­dore McCarrick, revamped the diocesan review board, and established a predominantly lay task force on sexual abuse to make recommendations to the Diocese on its response to survivors and its internal policies.

The Diocese urges anyone who as a child was sexually abused by a Catholic priest or deacon to report the matter to a law enforcement agency or to the Diocese. More information is available on the diocesan website at www.rcda.org/