Catholic Priest Who Headed Clergy Rehab Going to Jail

By John Lavitt 03/10/14

Monsignor Edward Arsenault was charged with theft after siphoning off money from his New Hampshire diocese.

Monsignor Arsenault. Photo via

Leaving behind a terrible example in his wake, Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault, a priest who headed a leading treatment center for clergy with sexual and addiction problems, is going to prison for theft. When his crimes became public, Arsenault resigned as head of the St. Luke Institute, which is just outside of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. After pleading guilty, Arsenault will spend at least four years in a New Hampshire prison under a plea deal with prosecutors.

The charges against Arsenault ranged from stealing money from his home diocese in New Hampshire, from a Catholic hospital, and from the estate of a deceased priest. For years, prosecutors showed how Arsenault was siphoning money from the diocese and through a consulting contract he had with Catholic Medical Center, a leading hospital in the state. In addition, Arsenault also stole from the estate of Monsignor John Molan, a Manchester priest who died in 2010.

In 2009, Arsenault took a $170,000-a-year position as CEO of St. Luke’s, a rehab center in Silver Spring, Maryland. Known for treating priests who had sexually abused children, the center deals primarily with priests, nuns, and brothers who have a range of other issues as well, including depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors. An internal investigation by St. Luke’s found no evidence of fraud while Arsenault was there.

As opposed to walking the walk as a member of the clergy, Arsenault continues the disturbing trend of religious figures staining the reputation of the Catholic Church. The Manchester diocese reported that the investigation against Arsenault began in early 2013 when church officials received a report that the priest was involved in a “potentially inappropriate adult relationship.” The nature of that relationship has not been revealed, but investigation did turn up the string of Arsenault’s financial improprieties and crimes.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.