💒 A priest was caught shoplifting from a Walmart in Pohatcong, officials said

💒 Police also say the Catholic priest was drunk

💒 He is stepping down as pastor of his church

POHATCONG — A 39-year-old Roman Catholic priest was arrested for shoplifting from a Walmart Supercenter in the Warren County Township, and then driving away drunk during a police pursuit, officials said.

Alpha police said Father Dawid Wejnerowski is accused of stealing less than $50 worth of ice cream containers and oven mitts from the Route 22 store around 10:15 p.m. on Thursday, according to a report on lehighvalleylive.com.

But the trouble didn’t stop there. After the store heist, Wejnerowski then led police officers on a chase through the Parkside neighborhood in the township while drunk, police said. The vehicle wound up on the front yard of a home on Liberty Boulevard.

Wejernowski was arrested and charged with disorderly persons shoplifting, second-degree eluding police, drunken driving, having an open container of alcohol in the car, and multiple traffic offenses, according to a statement from the Pohatcong Township police, and reported by lehighvalleylive.com.

Officials with the Diocese of Metuchen confirmed that Wejernowski is stepping down as pastor of St. Mary Church in Alpha.

St. Mary Roman Catholic Church, Alpha (Facebook)
St. Mary Roman Catholic Church, Alpha (Facebook)

The following is a statement from Anthony P. Kearns III, chancellor of the Diocese of Metuchen.

The Diocese is aware of the incidents involving Fr. Dawid Wejnerowski, early Tuesday morning in Alpha and Pohatcong Township.  We are most grateful that no one was hurt or injured, including Fr. Dawid as a result of this incident.  We are also grateful to the Pohatcong Township Police Department for their quick response and treatment of Father and all involved with dignity and professionalism.

It is clear, Fr. Dawid has a very serious problem with alcohol.  He has accepted this fact, the first step in recovery.  He will be stepping aside from his role as Pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Alpha to provide him the necessary time to seek inpatient treatment out of state. Fr. is extremely remorseful for his conduct.  He is aware of the danger he posed to others and himself. He is resolved to seek the necessary treatment to ensure he never engages in such behavior again.

Fr. is indeed sad to step away from the parish, but knows he is in need of recovery and treatment.  Fr. is well loved by his parishioners and I know they too will miss him. Fr. understands there are consequences to his conduct, and he stands ready to address all the legal challenges he faces.

There is a priest now temporarily assigned to the parish to give the Bishop the opportunity to assign a temporary administrator. 

Mass times, and all sacraments will continue on the same schedule.  As indicated a priest will be available to address the needs of the parish until the arrival of the temporary administrator.  Additionally, the parish staff will be available to administer to the needs of the parishioners and the parish.

Bishop Checchio remains concerned for Fr. Dawid's health and well being as he does for all the parishioners and parish of St. Mary.  Please keep Fr. in your prayers as he develops the skills necessary to live a life of recovery. 

Thank you for your interest in the well being of Fr. Dawid and the Parish.


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