Response to Fr. John Lovell and James Komaniecke, and uninformed priests

Fr. James Altman


Dear family,

I write to you now as someone who has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Canceled Priests, a voluntary and unpaid position I have held for about ten months.

Over the years you have heard me repeatedly teach about “The Rule of Alots:  A lot of people have a lot to say about a lot of things they know nothing about.”   Interestingly, Bishop Callahan himself essentially once said this:  these people “cannot wait to tell you what they do not know.”

Such has been the case regarding Fr. Lovell, James Komaniecke, and the priest signatories on a public release written on behalf of Fr. Lovell.  Unlike all of them, including Fr. Lovell, whose education and experience, and personal deficiencies do not qualify him to lead a non-profit corporation, I actually do know what I am talking about.  While reading this response, please keep in mind the substance of Fr. Lovell’s new public plea:  “do not support the Coalition for Canceled Priests!  No!  Support ME!  Send money to ME!!!!”

The public actions of Fr. Lovell, and those who unwittingly spread his narrative disinformation, have precipitated this response, and Fr. Lovell only has himself to blame for this response which exposes just a portion of his actionable malfeasance during his time at CFCP.  I now will shed the light of day on facts, not fiction, exposing the past few years at CFCP that will enable you to make an informed decision.

Understand that a non-profit corporation organized for a specific mission is not a personal fiefdom to be operated at the whim and caprice of any individual in control. “large and in charge.”   Rather, the Board of Directors of a non-profit has a fiduciary responsibility to the donors to properly manage and maintain the assets donated by you, the faithful donors, as these donations relate to the very specific mission as articulated in the Articles of Incorporation.  Please listen carefully:  Failure to fulfill this fiduciary responsibility violates civil and/or criminal Statutes regarding the incorporation, and puts the entirety of its assets – your donations – at risk of IRS intervention.

With all this in mind, understand that beginning about ten months ago, the reconstituted Board of the CFCP began to investigate all aspects of management since the non-profit’s inception.  As the investigation continued, new facts and circumstances demanded further investigation to the point where the Board hired an independent priest/attorney to conduct an independent inquiry.  Listen closely, dear family:  for the record, and contrary to his misrepresentation to each of you, Fr. Lovell was offered opportunities to defend himself during this investigation, but “lawyer’d up” and utterly has failed to cooperate in any meaningful way with the Board and with its independent investigator.

Only for the purpose of assisting you in comprehending the conclusions of the Board, please compare the following differentiating between my “skill set” (all glory be to God) and Fr. Lovell’s.

I have an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Michigan, one of the top ten Graduate Schools of Business in the country.  I worked for a couple years as an accountant, both in a private company and for a governmental entity.  Thereafter I worked in banking for a couple years, and received training at the corporate headquarters of what was then one of the top two regional banks in the country.

Thereafter I entered Law School and worked in private practice, running my own Office for about a dozen years before entering seminary.  During that time I not only helped create some corporations, and helped several fulfill their governmental requirements, I also helped found and operate a non-profit focused on Catholic social services.  Thereafter I entered seminary, was ordained and, for a period of just over 14 years, served as pastor of two different parishes, one in central Wisconsin and then one in La Crosse.

In contrast, and to the best of the Board’s knowledge – limited by Fr. Lovell’s failure to cooperate with the investigation/investigator – Fr. Lovell has no formal business education nor experience, is not a lawyer nor canon lawyer, was ordained and only served as an associate pastor for about two and half years, never served as a pastor, was canceled and, over a period of approximately a decade, “waited tables” or worked in other non-professional jobs.  So, dear family, do not get misled by Fr. Lovell’s frequent grandiose assertion that he has been a priest for 17 years, and all that that statement would infer or imply in terms of competence and experience.

Also important to understand, dear family, is that it is not, and never can be, a question of whether someone “did his best” with whatever skill set one has or does not have.  I could do “my best” as your heart surgeon but I do not think you want me doing your quadruple bypass.  Or similarly, I could do “my best” as your brain surgeon but you do not want me going anywhere near your cranium.  Similarly, “doing one’s best” is not the standard when it comes to leadership of a non-profit corporation.  Fr. Lovell was utterly unqualified, educationally and experientially, to manage CFCP.  This says nothing about the totality of the investigation of other things, including his managerial skills – or lack thereof – as revealed during the thorough and independent investigation.

Dear family, one last comment before stating my conclusions.  If there is excessive turnover in Board Members, employees and volunteers, one should ask the question “why?”  One should investigate and interview former Board Members, employees and volunteers.  The Board of the CFCP asked the question “why” and did the investigation.  Referring now to “The Rule of Alots,” the Board actually knows what it is talking about; Fr.  Lovell, James Komaniecki and the priests who signed that defamatory letter, do not.

So, here is just a small part of the facts discovered by the current Board over the past ten months.

Since its inception, and under the essential leadership of Fr. Lovell, for over two years there were no proper accounting functions in the entirety of the organization.  The current Board retained a proper accounting firm which then took months and months and months of reconstruction before the current Board received its first financial statements.  Dear family, this fact alone – utter failure to account for donations and expenditures – is actionable malfeasance.

Only within the last two months has the current Board been able to discern how many priests actually applied for assistance, how many actually received assistance, and what forms did that assistance take.  Dear family, the whole reason for the existence of CFCP hinges on just that simple inquiry and it took until now before the current Board had any sense of the answers to these questions.  Worse than all this, it appears that there has been repeated public overstatements and/or misleading misrepresentations as to how many priests actually have been served.  The Board is working on this now.

I can tell you who has been served:  Fr. Lovell.  Absolutely contrary to the allegations he publicly puts forth by what I would call his “proxies” – Komaniecki and the priest-signatories who themselves benefited by Lovell’s largesse – Fr. Lovell has been rewarded handsomely.   Firstly, since cancellation in his Diocese after a very, very short time of service as an “associate,” he always has received compensation from his Diocese, which he himself stated presently was over $1,700 a month, plus health insurance.  Additionally, he was being paid in excess of $50,000 by CFCP.  Additionally he received free housing, utilities, repairs and maintenance and all expenses related to housing since the prior Board bought a half-million dollar house in Crown Point, Indiana.

Make no mistake about it:  a former long-time waiter was rewarded handsomely by this non-profit corporation.

Additionally, he – in my opinion – was “living large” on the “company expense account” which, because of the utter failure to keep proper business accounting records, the current Board still struggles to discern the extent.

Further, since he was put on administrative leave during the pendency of the investigation into many allegations not publicly mentioned here or elsewhere, he has continued to live in that half-million dollar house which – facts would reveal – has not served any other canceled priest.

Further, he also repeatedly was offered to apply for assistance through the CFCP just like we would expect of any other canceled priest to do.

Dear family, there is not time nor space herein to go into ten months worth of financial reconstruction, organizational mismanagement, and actionable malfeasance.  Nor do I have time or inclination to go into what I, in my opinion, was an HR – Human Resources – nightmare.  So, I will conclude thusly:  for the first time since its inception, CFCP is being operated, pursuant to Statutes and the IRS code, and most importantly, according to its mission statement, like the non-profit it was established to be.


As I said at the beginning, a lot of people have a lot to say about a lot of things they know nothing about.  I do not speak on behalf of all wrongfully canceled priests, nor on behalf of the Board of Directors.  I do speak on facts I actually know.  Now you have just a glimpse into facts, and not the absurd and actionable libelous or slanderous public statements made by Fr. Lovell, Komaniecki or the priests who signed that letter.  They should have known better.  The Board will address them in due time.

God bless you all.

Fr. James Altman