NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Saints Peter and Paul catholic church became Steve Fecke’s spiritual home after Katrina and worked closely with former pastor Travis Clark to help record masses for the congregation during COVID.
Other parishioners described their former pastor as respectful, courteous, and humble.
“It’s very difficult to read and hear some of the things that transpired on an altar so to me it’s a welcome change it’s a sign of maybe renewal for our church,” Fecke said.
Clark was arrested in October on obscenity charges with Mindy Dixon and Melissa Cheng for having sex with the women on the church’s altar. Both identify as dominatrices on their social media pages. Fecke says hearing that news, betrayal was only the start.
“I ask people to keep our parish and our faith our catholic church in their prayers,” Fecke said.
After burning the old altar, Archbishop Gregory Aymond gifted a new altar to the church from the archdiocese.
“His behavior was obscene his desecration of the altar is demonic,” Aymond said.
During the vigil mass, Aymond consecrated the new altar and the sanctuary with holy water and prayer. But outside, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP say the archbishop’s paid closer attention to an altar than victims of the church.
SNAP also fears for other children who could have been harmed during Clark’s priesthood.
“The archbishop says he’s infuriated with the behavior of Travis Clark, however, he hasn’t been infuriated when his brother priests rape children in the past and that’s what’s infuriating to us,” said SNAP leader, Kevin Bourgeois.
But as mass continued and the new altar consecrated, those parishioners prepare for a fundraising dinner for their church, hoping that these are the first steps to making their congregation whole again.
“I had to come here to see the archbishop and just to be cleansed and don’t let fear get you,” Linda Lopez said.
“He had a moment of weakness, we still love him, we’ll still support him, we’ll still pray for him and ask God for what he did and have a sincere and sorrowful heart,” Fecke said.
Cheng and Dixon’s attorney, Bradley Phillips releasing a statement tonight saying they have been vilified and are not criminals, adding that all were consenting adults.
The statement says “It is very regrettable that Ms. Dixon and Ms. Cheng are being presented to the world as criminals when, in fact, they have done nothing wrong. All parties involved were consenting adults. Everything that occurred took place behind closed doors, on private property, and none of the conduct alleged was criminal in nature.
The fact that this involved a priest or took place in a church is completely irrelevant. The only pertinent question is if it took place in view of the public. Clearly that is not the case. The evidence will show that an individual had to enter the church’s private property and look through a window to see what was taking place. By definition, then, it was not in public view.
The fact that Ms. Dixon and Ms. Cheng are being vilified like this is quite frankly, appalling. I understand that people may be upset by this situation, but that does not make this conduct illegal or criminal in any way. I would implore anyone seeking to pass judgment to direct their energy elsewhere."
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