Washington, D.C. — The Archdiocese of Los Angeles said it will not pursue charges against two religious sisters who were found to have "misappropriated" a "substantial amount" of money from one of its Catholic schools.
In a Nov. 28 letter sent to families of St. James School in Redondo Beach, California, the pastor of the parish associated with the school said the archdiocese would address the matter internally. The religious order Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, of which Sr. Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sr. Lana Chang are members, has agreed to a "full restitution" of money used for personal matters by the two women, the letter said.
The Los Angeles Times daily newspaper said Kreuper was a former principal of the school and Chang was a former teacher there and also served as vice principal. Both retired at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
The archdiocese did not disclose the amount of money involved or how it was used, but said the matter was discovered following a financial review and the religious order will impose "appropriate penalties and sanctions on each of the sisters in accordance with the policies of the order."
"On behalf of the school and our parish, the archdiocese met with the Torrance Police Department which has jurisdiction for our school, to advise the department of the matter and that the archdiocese does not wish to pursue criminal proceedings against the sisters but instead plans to have the archdiocese, the school and the order address the situation internally through the investigation, restitution and sanctions on the sisters," said a letter made available to Catholic News Service by the archdiocese and signed by Msgr. Michael Meyers, pastor of the parish.
The school has implemented procedures and oversight policies for financial management and reporting responsibilities, the letter said.
"I want to assure you that the investigation has disclosed that, notwithstanding this misappropriation, no student or program at St. James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations," it said. "In sum, the education of your children has not and will not be affected by these events.
The sisters, it added, expressed "deep remorse they each feel for their actions and ask for your forgiveness and prayers."
A Nov. 29 statement by the sisters' religious order in Los Angeles said it was notified of the investigation.
"The sisters have confirmed the misappropriation of funds and have cooperated in the investigation," the statement on the order's website said. "The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have had the privilege of serving the families of St. James School and Parish since 1918. Our community is concerned and saddened by this situation and regret any injury to our long relationship with the families of the school. The Sisters of St. Joseph both desire and intend to make complete restitution to St. James School."