A Carmelite nun told the vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth that she had fallen in love with a priest and would need to leave the order and devote her life to prayer, according to testimony Tuesday.
The vicar general, the Very Rev. Jonathan Wallis, testified that the Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach told told him on three occasions — outside of confession — that she had broken her chastity vows. Gerlach shared this information with Wallis when he visited the monastery to celebrate Mass, he said.
Gerlach is suing Bishop Michael Olson and the diocese for $1 million, alleging that he defamed her, invaded her privacy and stole personal electronic devices after he received reports of her transgressions. She has denied the allegations.
Gerlach, 43, was hospitalized for seizures in November, and uses a wheelchair and relies on a feeding tube. Gerlach oversaw the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity on 72 wooded acres in Arlington. Sister Francis Therese of the monastery is also suing Olson.
Olson dismissed Gerlach from the order on June 1, a day after the Vatican gave him the authority to investigate. She has appealed her dismissal.
During a hearing Tuesday in the 67th District Court in Tarrant County, Wallis testified that Gerlach told him on Dec. 22, Dec. 24. and Jan. 5 that she had broken her chastity vows. Wallis said she didn’t name the priest, but said he was not from Fort Worth and that the sex was consensual.
Therese called Gerlach a “whore” when she learned of the transgressions, Wallis testified.
On Jan. 5, he said, Gerlach told him that she needed to see a doctor because she was “nervous about being late.”
On cross examination, Matthew Bobo, the attorney representing Gerlach, asked Wallis if he was aware of her significant health issues. He also asked Wallis why he waited until April to report the “grave misconduct.”
Wallis responded that Gerlach told him that she was going to speak to her superior, and he felt that she should go through that chain of command. He said he was also following canonical procedures.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.