Statement regarding Father Ignazio Medina
After receiving information involving possible mismanagement of funds at St. Stanislaus Parish in Wardsville, the Diocese of Jefferson City conducted an investigation and, as a result of this investigation, has initiated a church trial involving Father Ignazio Medina, a retired priest of the diocese. Father Medina was pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish from 2012 to 2021.
“I deeply regret the necessity for these canonical actions. However, as diocesan bishop, I am obligated to proceed in this manner.” Bishop W. Shawn McKnight stated in making the announcement. “Our commitment to our faith means we must hold one another accountable, as good stewards of the gifts God gives to each of us.”
Bishop McKnight expressed deep gratitude for St. Stanislaus’ new pastor, Msgr. David Cox, and the parish finance council. “Because of their careful stewardship, they identified discrepancies and worked with Chancery staff to conduct a thorough investigation,” he explained.
Father Medina has been kept informed throughout the investigation, and Bishop McKnight has met with him personally on several occasions. The diocese assisted Father Medina with obtaining canonical counsel to ensure that his rights under church law are protected. He has also been encouraged to obtain civil legal counsel. At Father Medina’s request, he was granted retirement as of July 1, 2022, in accord with diocesan policy. He continues to hold faculties to celebrate Mass.
The issue of possible financial mismanagement first surfaced in December 2018. At that time, the diocesan chief financial officer, Deacon Joseph Braddock, assisted the finance council of the parish with resolving certain financial reporting discrepancies. A bank account established by Father Medina in the parish name was discovered during this investigation. This bank account was previously unknown to the parish finance council.
In July 2021, Father Medina was appointed pastor of Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Ozark and Msgr. David Cox was appointed pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish.
After Father Medina’s transfer, the parish finance council and Msgr. Cox learned that the previously undisclosed bank account had been closed in June 2021, resulting in an approximately $300,000 discrepancy. The parish brought this information to the Chancery, and Chancery staff worked with the parish finance council to resolve this matter.
Father Medina was interviewed and stated that he closed the bank account prior to moving from St. Stanislaus to Our Lady of the Lake. He granted the Chancery access to the bank records.
When those records were reviewed, it was discovered that Father Medina had written a check to himself in the amount of $200,000 and a check to an out-of-state sibling in the amount of $100,000. As a result of this discovery, the diocese notified the appropriate law enforcement agency. We are aware that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is conducting an investigation.
At the same time, Bishop McKnight put in place temporary financial safeguards at Our Lady of the Lake Parish. Father Medina voluntarily agreed to these restrictions. Brief statements were released to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus and Our Lady of the Lake in January 2022 regarding this matter. An independent auditing firm was also engaged to do an in-depth analysis of accounts for both parishes.
While there are no indications of any discrepancies in the accounts of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, approximately $20,000 in additional cash withdrawals could not be substantiated at St. Stanislaus Parish.
After being questioned, Father Medina delivered three cashier’s checks to the Chancery totaling $320,000. The first two, totaling $300,000, were received in January 2022 and have been provided to St. Stanislaus Parish. A cashier’s check of $20,000 was received in June 2022 and will also be provided to St. Stanislaus Parish, following appropriate protocol.
Since Bishop McKnight has determined that there is sufficient evidence of a possible violation of church law, canon law requires him to initiate a penal process. Therefore, Bishop McKnight has initiated a church trial to determine whether Father Medina is guilty of a church crime. To ensure the objective rights of all involved, including Father Medina, and to ensure impartiality, the judges for the trial will be experts in canon law from outside the diocese. Due to the ongoing FBI investigation, the church trial has been temporarily suspended to avoid any appearance of interference with civil authorities.
It is critical to note that Father Medina is presumed innocent of any violation of the law until proven otherwise. He has been kept informed at each stage of this process and is represented by canonical counsel. Furthermore, he has received a copy of this statement prior to its public release. He has indicated a willingness to fully cooperate.
Bishop McKnight asks, “Please join me in prayer for Father Medina, St. Stanislaus Parish and for our diocese. May our diocesan patroness, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, intercede for us, and may God strengthen our communion as a church at this time.”