An Ottawa priest with a prior conviction of sexually abusing two young girls will withdraw from active duties at a church in the city's east end for personal reasons.

A letter from Father Jack McCann will be read to the congregation at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church during a special prayer session on Saturday morning.

McCann spent 10 months in jail for sexual offences he committed in B.C. in the 1970s. He pleaded guilty to the offences in 1992.

He now lives in Ottawa where he has presided over mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on St. Laurent Boulevard.

Although the congregation speaks highly of McCann, nobody at the Church was aware of his past until CTV Ottawa started making inquiries.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Ottawa told CTV on Thursday that McCann was not allowed to celebrate mass without supervision.

However, the parish priest, Father Stephen Liang, said that's exactly what McCann had been doing.

Liang told CTV Ottawa he was "horrified" to learn he was never told about McCann's past.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr