Bishop Edward Braxton has granted the newest priest in the Diocese of Belleville a leave of absence, according to an official announcement from the Office of the Bishop.
“The Rev. Brett A. Judkins, ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ on May 14, 2016, and until now, associate pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon, is granted, at his own request, an indefinite leave of absence from the priesthood. Please support him with your fervent and frequent prayers,” the announcement read.
The leave of absence is effective immediately.
A letter written by the bishop was read to parishioners at St. Nicholas Catholic Church during weekend Masses. A copy of the letter was not provided to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Judkins could not be reached for comment. St. Nicholas pastor, the Rev. Monsignor Bill Hitpas, was not immediately available for comment.
In an interview with the News-Democrat in June last year, Judkins said he knew he wanted to be a priest since he was 5 years old.
“From an early age, I just remember going to Mass with my parents and just being so drawn to the priest and what he was doing,” Judkins previously said. “For me, it was just going to Mass. ... I felt the call.”
Judkins was assigned to St. Nicholas in O’Fallon and St. Joseph Church in Lebanon as part of the diocese’s partnership plan for parishes. He also previously served at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chester.
Judkins, who grew up in Collinsville, attended Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He spent a total of six years there.
Judkins, a 2005 graduate of Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville, attended St. Louis University and graduated with a degree in history prior to going into the seminary.
Before Judkins’ ordination, the Belleville Diocese had not had a priest ordained since 2012.