The Rev. Samuel R. Ciccolini has regained the key role of his identity as a priest.
“After consultation with his advisers, the Bishop [Richard G. Lennon] has granted Father Sam’s petition to say public Mass and hear confessions,” said Robert Tayek, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
A popular Roman Catholic priest from Akron known as “Father Sam,” Ciccolini was granted early retirement for health reasons last May. At that time, he was prohibited from public ministry and could only say private Mass (with no one present) because of a felony conviction for cheating on his taxes and committing bank fraud.
Ciccolini, 71, was released from federal prison last April, after serving a six-month sentence.
The mandatory retirement age for priests in the diocese is 75.
Tayek said that Lennon received letters from parishioners at Immaculate Conception of Mary Parish in Akron’s Kenmore neighborhood, and from Ciccolini, requesting that he be allowed to say Mass.
Ciccolini, who resides at the Kenmore parish, could not be reached for comment.
The Rev. Michael B. Smith, pastor at the parish, acknowledged that Ciccolini is now able to celebrate Mass but said he has not discussed with him how often that will happen. Prior to being prohibited from public ministry, Ciccolini assisted with daily and weekend Masses at Immaculate Conception.
Smith said that as a retired priest, Ciccolini has the discretion to decide how often he will say Mass. That could happen as early as this weekend. Permission to celebrate Mass officially was granted in a letter from the bishop that is dated Jan. 22.
Ciccolini founded Interval Brotherhood Home, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, in 1970 in Coventry Township. He headed the facility until retiring in December 2010 amid legal woes.