SEEKONK - The pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church has been placed on administrative leave because he is under investigation by the Rhode Island State Police for possible criminal activity, the Diocese of Fall River confirmed Thursday.
The diocese placed the Rev. William M. Costello on leave after it was informed of the investigation.
"The diocese hastens to assure people that the investigation does not involve the abuse of minors," the statement said.
Parishioners of the church on Route 44 were told about the information at Masses last weekend.
"Bishop George W. Coleman is saddened by this development and asks that we keep the parish, Father Costello and all involved in our prayers," the statement said.
The bishop has asked the Rev. James Morse, a retired priest of the diocese, to serve as temporary administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
A spokesman for the Rhode Island State Police did not return an inquiry from The Sun Chronicle Thursday.
Costello, a native of Northampton, became pastor last June upon the retirement of the Rev. Brian J. Harrington.
Costello was ordained a priest on May 11, 1974. He was parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish in South Yarmouth until 1978, when he was named chaplain at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, with residence at St. John's in Attleboro.
In 1985, he was assigned a parochial vicar at St. Mary's in Norton, where he served until 1990, when he was transferred to St. Anthony's in Mattapoisett in the same capacity.
He became administrator at St. Mary's in Taunton in 1993, and was named pastor there in 1994. He was appointed pastor of St. Anthony's in East Falmouth in 1999.