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updated: 5/4/2012 2:10 PM

Gambling Roselle priest wants to return to ministry

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  • The Rev. John Regan, left, leads commencement mass for Driscoll Catholic High School at St. Walter Church in Roselle in July 2008.

    The Rev. John Regan, left, leads commencement mass for Driscoll Catholic High School at St. Walter Church in Roselle in July 2008.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • John Regan

    John Regan


A Roselle priest convicted of gambling away about $300,000 in church funds has asked a DuPage County judge to let him return to the ministry. The Rev. John Regan, 48, was sentenced in September to probation, jail and community service, and was ordered to get a job "as menial as possible."

Since his release, he's worked at a Joliet factory for $9 an hour.

Now Regan's attorneys are asking Judge John Kinsella to clarify whether he can go back to work for the Diocese of Joliet -- a move they say would double his income and allow him to pay restitution more quickly.

He also "wishes to return to more meaningful employment in order to be restored to his lifelong vocation," a recent defense filing says.

"He will not, under any circumstances, be appointed a pastor, but will engage in work that involves celebrating mass, administering sacraments, teaching, administering to the poor, and counseling," according to the filing.

The Rev. William Dewan, vicar of priests for the diocese, said in a letter to the court that Regan -- a recovering gambling addict -- wouldn't handle money.

"All pastors or supervisors working and/or living with Fr. Regan would be fully informed of his history and would be required to provide supervision and accountability," the letter states. "Fr. Regan would establish a financial accountability person responsible for monitoring his personal finances. Any revenue or expenditure that was questionable would be reported to my office."

Dewan said Regan has not had an official assignment since his removal from St. Walter Church in Roselle in 2008.

Should he be allowed to return, Regan likely would start June 20 when other priests are reassigned. He would be either a parochial vicar or a chaplain in a specialized ministry, Dewan said.

DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin had no comment Thursday, saying prosecutors would respond in court. Defense attorney Jack Donahue could not immediately be reached for comment either.

Regan remained an ordained priest after pleading guilty to felony theft last June and has been active in a 12-step recovery program for gambling addicts, according to the defense.

Prosecutors said he began taking money from St. Walter within two months of starting there in July 2006 and went on to lose about $300,000 at casinos in a two-year span.

The diocese later repaid the church, and Regan was ordered to repay the diocese.

A hearing on his employment is set for May 10.

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