Bishop to visit parish

BLUE EARTH – Bishop John M. Quinn of the Diocese of Winona will visit Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth this weekend, the diocese has announced.

Spokesman Joel Hennessy wasn’t sure if Quinn would lead Mass at the church but said Masses would be conducted as usual. Weekend Masses are listed on the site as 10 a.m. Sunday and 5:15 p.m. Saturday at the church, located at 214 S. Holland St.

The parish priest, Father Leo Charles Koppala, 47, has been charged with criminal sex misconduct for engaging in sexual contact with a child under 13 years of age. Koppala will have a initial court appearance 1:30 p.m. Monday.

A statement dated June 10 on the diocese’s website says Bishop Quinn placed Koppala, a priest of the Nellore Diocese in South India, on administrative leave, in accordance with the diocesan policy for the protection of minors. While on administrative leave, Koppala is not permitted to exercise his public ministry or live on any parish property in the Diocese of Winona, pending the outcome of an investigation.

The Diocese of Winona has not named a priest to lead the parish. Hennessy expected that a decision regarding who will fill the position will be “made fairly quickly.”

In the meantime, Hennessy said, “The pastoral needs will be covered by other priests.

“We’re blessed with wonderful senior priests and other priests that are not assigned to parishes,” he said. “We have our backup forces.”