Pius X priest suspended after teacher questions his behavior with child

(Journal Sentinel) A Catholic priest has been temporarily suspended from ministry at two parishes and elementary schools, pending a Wauwatosa police investigation into allegations involving inappropriate contact with a student, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his religious order confirmed Monday.

Father Robert Marsicek was relieved of his duties at Pius X parish in Wauwatosa, Wauwatosa Catholic School and at Mother of Good Counsel parish and school in Milwaukee last week, standard procedure for both the archdiocese and his Milwaukee-based religious order, the Society of the Divine Savior, or Salvatorians.

Archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski said police were called after a teacher observed behavior she believed to be “questionable or inappropriate.” Teachers are required by law to report any suspicions.

Marsicek has not been charged with a crime, and Wauwatosa police issued an email statement saying no information regarding the investigation would be made available until it was concluded.

Father Joe Rodrigues, U.S. provincial for the Milwaukee-based Salvatorians, was notified of the claim on Thursday and announced Marsicek’s suspension after Masses over the Easter weekend.

“We’re trying to be as cooperative as possible,” he said.

Topczewski said the church’s response reflects the priorities of its safe-environment programs, including training for parish and school employees.

Salvatorians are among a number of Catholic religious orders that run parishes, schools and other ministries throughout the world, including Milwaukee. The order has about 100 members nationally, including about 50 locally.

While religious orders maintain responsibility for their members, local bishops grant the “faculties” required to work in a geographic area. In this case, the archdiocese also has responsibility for Catholic schools.

Marsicek, 71, has served as pastor at Pius X, 2506 Wauwatosa Ave., since 2001, and he took on responsibility for Mother of Good Counsel, 6924 W. Lisbon Ave., later. He had been planning to retire in December, according to Rodrigues.

Wauwatosa Catholic, at 1500 Wauwatosa Ave., is the result of the 2011 merger of Pius X and St. Bernard elementary schools. A Michigan native, Marsicek was ordained in 1968 and has served in parishes in Wisconsin, Arizona, Alabama and California.