Prominent Nun Pleads Guilty to Theft

Sr. Barbara Markey has pleaded guilty to siphoning off church funds. She has been ordered to pay $125,000 in restitution, and could be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison.

Markey was the director of the Family Life Office for the Omaha Archdiocese, and associate director of the Center for Marriage and Family at Creighton University. She was a leading figure in Catholic marriage preparation, best known as author of the FOCCUS tool, used by half a million couples each year. The archdiocese sued her civilly, too, saying she stole $820,000. Some of the money reportedly went to her gambling habit, but a good chunk went to family members. They, too, are being sued.

In the recent action, she didn’t exactly make a full confession.

Asked by the judge what she did, Markey mentioned only the minimum threshold for the charge she faced — $1,500.

Reading from a short, hand-scrawled sentence on a legal pad, Markey said: “I used at least $1,500 in funds I was not authorized to use by the finance office of the archdiocese.”

She then told the judge: “I’m not talking about everything they (the archdiocese) have said I did. Is that fair? Am I allowed to say that?”