Priest-founder of Life Teen youth ministry laicized

PHOENIX -- A former Mesa pastor has been officially dismissed from the priesthood, officials for the Diocese of Phoenix announced Feb. 16.

Dale Fushek was recently notified he has been laicized. The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had been investigating the former pastor of St. Timothy Parish in Mesa and one-time vicar general for the diocese for alleged sexual abuse of minors. The Vatican's findings in that investigation resulted in his removal from the priesthood.

Fushek gained prominence throughout the 1980s and 1990s for co-founding Life Teen, an international youth ministry program.

Pope Benedict XVI ordered his dismissal from the priesthood, according to a diocesan statement. Fushek is no longer bound to the duties and obligations he incurred upon his priestly ordination in 1978, and he no longer has the rights of a cleric under church law. As a result, Fushek can no longer refer to himself as "reverend," "monsignor" or "father."

Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted received the "decree of dismissal" in January from the Vatican congregation notifying him that Fushek's laicization was the penalty for sexual abuse of minors.

Phoenix diocese cuts 17 staff positions

PHOENIX -- Phoenix Catholic officials announced a major realignment of the staff structure at the central administrative offices of the diocese.

The recent changes at the Diocesan Pastoral Center have come on the heels of a projected decrease in revenue and resulted in 17 positions being eliminated and two full-time positions being converted to part time. Six of the 19 jobs were vacant.