STOCKTON, CA - Dean McFalls, a well-known priest in the Stockton Diocese, has resigned after telling parishioners he's about to become the father of a baby boy.
"I definitely have disappointed many people," McFalls said. "That's why I've talked about it openly, so they won't be left guessing about what's going on."
McFalls was the pastor at St. Mary's Church in downtown Stockton. He announced his resignation in a statement read during mass on Sunday.
McFalls came to Stockton in 2008 from Lathrop's Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, according to The Record newspaper in Stockton. He has been outspoken about the city's struggles with crime and violence, among other issues.
The Catholic Church requires priests to be celibate and unmarried. McFalls discussed those rules and his resignation in an interview with News10's Tim Daly.
"If the situation in the Catholic Church were different, I would be a better man," he said. "More stable, more effective in the long run as a human being."
McFalls would offer little information about the woman about to give birth to his child.
"She's a better person than I," he said.
McFalls said it's not clear what he'll do after leaving the Stockton Diocese. He said he told Bishop Stephen Blaire about two weeks ago what was happening.
Watch Tim Daly's report during the 6 p.m. newscast on News10.
Full text of statement by Father Dean McFalls read during mass:
"Dear Friends, I wish to express my profound sorrow that, beginning today, I will no longer be serving as your pastor. I have been blessed by your support and participation during the past five years. However, I have been granted a leave of absence from active ministry in the priesthood, and thus have also resigned as pastor of St. Mary's. I would have remained longer, at least until our parish festival concludes, but circumstances did not allow this to be. A child will soon be born, and I am the baby's father. I know this comes as a shock to you, and to many a disappointment. I assume full responsibility for my actions and will do all that I can so that my child receives the care and love that he deserves. Once he was conceived, I had no other option, as a Christian and a priest, than to do everything possible that he might have life, and have it to the full. As St. Paul told the Romans: "God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his decree," and though the Lord never decreed that I sin, he does command that all life be respected and nurtured.
"I apologize sincerely to each and every one of you for any grief, hurt, or sense of abandonment that you may experience. Please welcome the priest who has come to take my place with generous hearts. Know that I will miss you deeply, and that you will always be carried in my heart. Fr. Dean"
Full text of statement from Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire:
"September 21, 2013
"Dear Parishioners of St. Mary's,
"With sadness in my heart, I announce to you that your Pastor, Father Dean McFalls, has requested a leave of absence from active ministry in the Priesthood for personal reasons which do not allow him to continue in active ministry as a priest. I have granted the leave of absence and have accepted his resignation as Pastor of St. Mary's Parish.
"I have appointed Father Jose Luis Gutierrez, the Diocesan Director of Vocations and Associate Pastor at Presentation Parish, as the interim administrator. Please welcome him at this time and support him.
"Also be assured of my prayers for all of you at St. Mary's. The well-being of the parish and you the parishioners weighs heavily on me. I trust in God in the days ahead.
"Sincerely Yours in Christ,
"Bishop Stephen Blaire"