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Pastor resigns over child pornography

Members of St. Patrick’s Catholic parish in Onalaska learned over the weekend their pastor, charged last month with possessing child pornography, has stepped down.

Monsignor Richard Gilles, acting head of the Diocese of La Crosse, announced at Masses that the Rev. Patrick Umberger had resigned his pastorate.

Umberger, 59, remains a diocesan priest, though he is suspended from duties pending the outcome of his legal case. His personal website, from which he conducted an online ministry serving more than 8,500 people worldwide, has been shut down.

Gilles said parish members told him it was important to know Umberger’s status.

“It’s a question mark that has been answered,” Gilles said Monday.

After his Aug. 11 installation, Bishop William Callahan plans to celebrate his first Masses as bishop of the La Crosse Diocese at St. Patrick, Gilles said.

At a special Mass on Sunday evening for parents with children in Aquinas schools, Gilles announced the Rev. Jesse Burish has been appointed chaplain of Aquinas Middle School, where Umberger served before his July 14 arrest. Burish is associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament parish in La Crosse. His appointment took effect Monday.

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