- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

CLEVELAND (AP) A man recently dropped from a training program to become a Franciscan brother was charged yesterday in the slaying of a Roman Catholic priest who was fatally shot and burned nearly beyond recognition in a rectory fire, police officials said.
Daniel Montgomery, 37, had been training to be an assistant at the priest's parish but not to conduct religious rites. He was charged with murder and arson, Police Chief Edward Lohn said.
Investigators have not given a motive for the killing of the Rev. William Gulas, 68, pastor of St. Stanislaus Church for nine years.
Mr. Montgomery was in the seventh year of an internship to become a Franciscan brother, or parish assistant, when the order's head of training traveled from Chicago last week to tell him he was being fired, said the Rev. Thomas Luczak, an official with the Franciscans.
Mr. Montgomery had been transferred from Chicago to St. Stanislaus this summer. Father Gulas reported on Mr. Montgomery's performance but did not conduct or discuss a review with him, Father Luczak said.
Father Luczak also said it was clear Mr. Montgomery was not suited to be a brother, but did not give specifics.
Father Gulas was shot once in the chest and struck on the head Saturday before the fire was set, the coroner said. His body was found inside his first-floor office.
Mr. Montgomery had spoken with television reporters Saturday as authorities removed Father Gulas' body from St. Stanislaus.
"The flames were that high. I could not do anything," said Mr. Montgomery, who was comforting parishioners outside. "I couldn't hear him. He was probably overcome by the flames by the time I got there."
Church members said Mr. Montgomery attended Mass on Sunday. He was arrested yesterday and jailed pending an arraignment scheduled for today.
The fire caused an estimated $50,000 damage to the church, which was dedicated in 1891 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Father Gulas came to St. Stanislaus in 1993. He was previously pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Saginaw, Mich.
Parishioners said Father Gulas was a beloved pastor who led a recent $1.5 million campaign to renovate the church and was helping to rehabilitate the working-class neighborhood.
City Council member Edward Rybka, a member of St. Stanislaus Church, called the slaying "incomprehensible."
"He was a good, holy person who cared about other people, and for him to be the victim of an incident like that at a holy place during a holy time of the year demonstrates the mind of a person who lacked respect for life."
Mass at St. Stanislaus is sometimes celebrated in Polish, as about a third of the 1,500 parishioners speak the language. Lech Walesa, a former president of Poland, spoke there in 1999.

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