North Vancouver churchgoers say they were stunned to learn their priest is facing five historic sex assault charges against children in Edmonton.

“It’s horribly shocking,” said Evan Jennings, who attends St. Catherine’s Capilano Anglican Church. “It’s awful."

Father Gordon William Dominey, 63, allegedly sexually assaulted five youth while he was employed at now-closed Edmonton Youth Development Centre from 1985 to 1989. He was working at the time as a priest in the Diocese of Edmonton.

In September 2015, Edmonton police say they began investigating reports of sexual assaults that occurred at the facility in the 1980s.

Police say the victims were between 14 and 17 years old.

On Thursday, Dominey was arrested in his Coquitlam home by Edmonton police with the help of RCMP. He is facing five charges of sexual assault and five charges of gross indecency.

The latter charge no longer exists under the criminal code but was the equivalent of “sexual interference” today. Under the law, Dominey must be charged and tried according to the laws of the day.

“We had two complainants come forward to us, and as the investigation progressed we discovered three more,” said Staff Sgt. Devin Laforce. “[Dominey] could be facing jail time, for sure.”

Dominey transferred from the Diocese of Edmonton to the Diocese of New Westminster in July of 1990, and has been in ministry in the Vancouver-based diocese during most of that time, according to a statement from the Diocese of New Westminster.

He first began working at St. Catherine’s Capilano in North Vancouver in September 2015, the same month the Edmonton police investigation began. Members of the church say Dominey was “great” in his position as interim rector.

"He has a real talent for saying sometimes uncomfortable things,” said Jennings. “He got up in front of the group last week and said, ‘you know, you guys are all very nice people, but you need to really try to love each other."

The Anglican Diocese of New Westminster has suspended Dominey, and is providing him with spiritual but not legal support. 

"We have a rigorous criminal records check,” said George Cadman, chief legal advisor of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster. “There's never been any suggestion of any difficulty and there's never been any complaint against Gordon."

Cadman says Dominey has done a “superb” job in his parishes.

“I was surprised to learn of the charges. There's obviously a presumption of innocence,” he said. “I’m sure this is very disturbing for him.”

Edmonton police believe there may be additional victims and witnesses around the same time frame, and are asking anyone with information about “Father Gord” is asked to call 780-423-4567 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Penny Daflos