The first pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe who resigned as the spiritual head of St. Mary’s Church in Stockton after he confessed to having fathered a child is yet to file papers that would relieve him of his priestly duties.
“He is in the process of applying or at least investigating how to apply,” Diocese of Stockton Director of Communications Sr. Terry Davis said about the latest in the laitization process involving Father Dean McFalls.
Parishioners in the churches where McFalls served have been asking questions about their former pastor such as whether they can still address him or refer to him as “Father.”
“I am just wondering if he can still continue to work as priest, and can he still be called ‘Father?’” was one such inquiry from a parishioner of Ripon’s St. Patrick Church in an e-mail. “As a lifelong Catholic, I am just interested in what is happening to Father Dean now. I highly respect the way he has chosen to accept the responsibility of his little boy.”
Sister Davis said McFalls can no longer perform any of his duties as an ordained priest because “he has no faculties to minister as a priest.” However, she added that “as far as any title, he can call himself what he wants. He just can’t function, minister or work as priest.”
McFalls said as much in his open letter to his parishioners at St. Mary’s that was read during all the Masses that weekend before Thanksgiving last year. In his letter, he informed the shocked members of his parish that he was leaving his active ministry in the priesthood and that he was the father of a “child (that) will soon be born.” In a column he has written for the Manteca Bulletin before Superbowl Sunday, he introduced his son as Gabriel.
Sister Davis said the Diocese of Stockton has been in contact with McFalls regarding his laitization process.
McFalls has not responded to questions related to the above via a telephone call or e-mail.
He was the first pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He was appointed to the post by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire in 2008 when he officially declared the church in Lathrop as Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Lathrop. Prior to that, Lathrop was a mission church of St. George’s Parish in south Stockton.