- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A priest suspected of stealing more than $600,000 from two churches has denied accusations in court documents that he was living a double life as a family man in a neighboring county.

The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis, 50, acknowledged sharing the home with a woman and three girls but denied he was married and declined to say whether the children were his, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Father Rodis also said the woman knew he was a Roman Catholic priest.

Father Rodis was indicted Jan. 8 on a felony embezzlement charge. A document included in papers committing him to jail listed him as living with a wife and three children in Fredericksburg. It was not clear from the documents whether Father Rodis is the children’s father.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond was surprised to hear about the living arrangements, diocese attorney William Etherington said. Neighbors in the subdivision where the family had lived for at least eight years also were surprised.

They said that Father Rodis referred to the woman as his wife and that one daughter appeared to be in her 20s, the second in her early teens and the third as young as 5. They also said that Father Rodis was often gone for days or weeks at a time and that he told them he was in the import-export business.

The Spotsylvania County real estate assessment Web site lists Joyce Sillador as the owner of the house, and neighbors said Father Rodis’ wife’s name is Joyce.

Nobody answered the phone at a number listed for the address.

The Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, bishop of the Richmond Diocese, has suspended Father Rodis’ faculties, meaning he is not allowed to represent the diocese or perform priestly duties.

Father Rodis, a Philippine citizen, was pastor at St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral, Va., and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass, Va., both in Louisa County, until May, when he retired because of health problems.

An investigation began in November after church officials found that a donation to the parishes had not been recorded. Father Rodis reportedly set up a separate church bank account into which he funneled some donation money from September 2001 through October 2006, Mr. Etherington said.

Father Rodis appeared Thursday in Louisa General District Court, where he agreed to surrender his passport as part of an agreement in which his bond was reduced from $100,000 to $10,000.

He is scheduled to appear in court again Thursday. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Father Rodis was ordained a priest in the Philippines in 1986 and has been living in the United States since 1991.

After coming to the Richmond Diocese, Father Rodis served as parochial vicar at St. Mark Catholic Church in Virginia Beach for one year, then as chaplain at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Va., for a year before going to St. Jude and Immaculate Conception, parishes he had led since 1993.

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