He wants to fulfill the call he feels G-d placed upon his life
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Fr. Jeff Windy, a known and respected priest in Ottawa, Illinois has been accused of suffering a “grave lapse in pastoral judgment” by involving himself in a criminal case on behalf of a young drug-addicted parishioner who is the single mom of 2 children. This parishioner robbed the purse of an elderly woman and used the woman’s stolen credit card to fuel her drug addiction. A Preliminary Investigation by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria was opened in Feb. 2018 to see if sufficient evidence existed to determine whether he used bad judgement while attemption to help the situation.
Father Jeff has been forced to hire a canonical advocate and a civil attorney to seek full reinstatement to his active priestly ministry. We are asking for help for him to pay his legal fees because a “canonical extra-judicial process” was opened and is presently pending. Fr. Windy’s authority to conduct priestly duties has been revoked and he has been unable to work since then or live in a rectory. Thus, he has been forced to live in his parents’ basement.
Father Windy contends that the facts upon which the initial determination were made are totally in error and his attorneys agree. One of his civil attorneys states that from their review of the facts “It is obvious the Diocese was given inaccurate information and further relied upon this information in making its decisions concerning Fr. Windy’s conduct and imposing the restrictions called for in its Decree…”
One of the erroneous contentions in the facts as presented to the Bishop was that criminal charges were being considered against Fr. Windy, including an obstruction of justice charge because he visited the parishioner in jail to counsel her and met with the victim of the crime. However, the State’s attorney, in a written document, specifically found that Fr. Windy did not imprudently entangle himself in a criminal case, and further stated that Fr. Windy was never under investigation as alleged in the findings presented to the Bishop. Moreover, the state’s attorney concluded that at no time did their office ever consider charging Fr. Windy for his interaction with either the parishioner or the victim.
Fr. Windy believed that in lieu of prison time, the offender should be sentenced to a strong probation program with mandatory counseling. In contrast to the accusations made against him, his thoughts and visit to the parishioner seems to have actually had a positive effect. The troubled young woman, while not directly mentioning him by name, gave the following statement in a letter written to the court, “When I first got to jail, I was waking up angry, going to sleep worrying. Now, I begin and end every single day thanking G-d. […] By the grace of G-d, I will be 141 days clean and sober on my sentencing date…”
An additional factor leading to Fr. Windy’s forced administrative leave from the diocese, which was set forth by the fact-finder, was a conviction of Fr. Windy 18 years earlier on a drug-related charge for which he was incarcerated. Having served his time for the offense and having done repentance, he was subsequently reinstated to his priestly ministry and thus this incarceration should bear no relevance to this case. It should instead be seen as an example of transparency to the congregation he serves and his belief and testimony of change.
This sincere, devoted and faithful Catholic priest’s homilies are outstanding. With a joyful demeanor, he is most personable and is a someone to whom one can easily relate. He has freely given of his time to spiritually enhance and meet the needs of his parishioners and the people of the community. He reaches out to those who are marginalized and live in the shadows of our society. This dedicated priest has been a true blessing to those in need and is a spiritual leader in whom we believe.
Over 100 letters have been sent to the Diocese offices urging Fr. Windy’s reinstatement. Please help us defray his legal expenses and achieve justice.
-Mary Sturm on behalf of friends of Fr. Windy