The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno has appointed a new administrator to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Bakersfield.
Reverend Theophane Nelliparambil Antony will take over the position on Friday, according to a letter from Bishop Joseph Brennan to the parishioners of St. Francis Church.
Antony comes into Bakersfield while Monsignor Craig Harrison, the former administrator, remains on paid administrative leave.
Harrison was suspended in April 2019 following allegations of sexual misconduct that dated back a few decades from his time in Fresno, Kern and Merced counties.
Earlier this year, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would not file sexual assault charges against Harrison because the statute of limitations expired.
Along with denying all of the allegations, Harrison has also been embroiled in a few lawsuits, including a defamation lawsuit against the Diocese of Fresno and spokesperson Teresa Dominguez.
“The pastoral care of the people of God in any parish community is of the utmost concern of the bishop in his responsibility before the Lord as Shepherd of the Flock,” Brennan wrote in the letter. “The pastoral concern of mine is especially directed toward the community of St. Francis. The need for pastoral leadership is crucial for the spiritual health and well-being of any community.”
Antony joins the St. Francis parish after serving for several years at St. Helen’s parish in Fresno and as the administrator of St. Lucy’s parish in Fowler.