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Diocese of Springfield

History of the Diocese

The Diocese of Springfield was established in 1853 as the Diocese of Quincy. It was renamed the Diocese of Alton in 1857, and renamed again in 1923 as the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The diocese covers 15,139 square miles and 28 counties in central Illinois. It shares borders with two other Illinois dioceses (Peoria to the north, and Belleville to the south). The diocese’s cathedral, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, is located in Springfield.

The total population of the geographic region covered by the Diocese of Springfield is over 1.1 million. Of that number, approximately 124,000 are Catholic, meaning that Catholics make up approximately 11 percent of the total population within the diocese. To serve a Catholic population spread over such a sizable area, the diocese has 129 Catholic parishes and is home to 72 diocesan priests and 35 priests associated with religious orders. Additionally, the diocese has 58 permanent deacons and 395 religious sisters. The diocese had three bishops while the Diocese of Alton: Bishop Henry Damian Juncker, who served from 1857 to 1868, Bishop Peter J. Baltes, who served from 1870 to 1886, and Bishop James Ryan, who served from 1888 to 1923. As the Diocese of Springfield, the diocese has been served by six bishops: Bishop James A. Griffin from 1924-1948; Bishop William A. O’Connor from 1949-1975; Bishop Joseph A. McNicholas from 1975-1983; Bishop Daniel L. Ryan from 1984-1999; Bishop George J. Lucas from 1999-2009; and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, the current bishop, who began his tenure in 2010.

The Diocese's History of Handling Claims of Child Sex Abuse by Clerics

The Diocese of Springfield’s handling of child sex abuse allegations is a story of failed leadership—leadership that allowed clerics to sexually abuse children in the diocese for decades, first...


County map of Diocese of Springfield
  • Established 1853
  • 28 counties
  • 129 parishes
  • 123,706 Catholics
  • 34 abusive clerics and religious brothers
State map of Diocese of Springfield

Narrative Accounts of Child Sex Abuse

The following section contains explicit narrative accounts of child sex abuse committed by Catholic clerics while ministering in the Diocese of Springfield. Where the narrative was written in consultation with a survivor, and based upon their experience, it is published with the survivor’s express permission. In those instances, unless otherwise noted pseudonyms are used to protect survivor identities.


Information Relating to Child Sex Abusers in the Diocese

The following section contains specific information regarding substantiated child sex abuse committed by Catholic clerics while ministering in the Diocese of Springfield. This information includes:

  • Name/Ordination Year
  • Diocesan/Order
  • Illinois Assignments
  • Reported Survivors
  • Date/Location of Reported Abuse
  • Diocese Claim of First Report
  • Placed on Catholic Church Public Lists
  • Actions/Status
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Scroll of Abusive Clerics/Brothers | Diocese of Springfield



Terms are defined as provided in the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops Glossary of Catholic Terms, unless denoted with *.

Altar server
Individuals, usually children, who assist clerics during liturgical functions such as mass. Prior to 1994, only men and boys were permitted to be altar servers.*
The title given automatically to bishops who govern archdioceses. It is also given to certain other high-ranking church officials.
The chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province. It is governed by an archbishop.
Auxiliary Bishop
A bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist its residential bishop.
The highest order of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church. The chief priests in their respective dioceses. Bishops are responsible for the pastoral care of their dioceses. All bishops have a responsibility to act in council with other bishops to guide the church.
A man who has taken vows in a religious order but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood. Sometimes he is called a lay brother to distinguish him from ordained members of religious orders.
Canon Law

A code of ecclesiastical laws governing the Catholic Church.

Highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope. Cardinals are regarded as the pope's closest advisors. Most cardinals are archbishops.
The chief archivist of a diocese's official records. Also a notary and secretary of the diocese’s central administration.
Clergy is a collective term referring to all those ordained—bishops, priests, and deacons—who administer the rites of the church. A cleric is an individual member of the clergy. Only men are permitted to join the clergy.
Confession or Reconciliation
The Catholic sacrament in which one makes a voluntary self-accusation of sins to a qualified priest in private in order to obtain absolution. The priest provides the confessor, also known as the penitent, with a penance to atone for sins committed. A priest who hears confession is forbidden from disclosing the contents of a confession to others under what is called the seal of confession.*
The personnel and offices through which (1) the pope administers the affairs of the universal church (the Roman Curia), or (2) a bishop administers the affairs of a diocese (the diocesan curia). The principal officials of a diocesan curia are the vicar general, the chancellor, officials of the diocesan tribunal or court, examiners, consultors, auditors, and notaries.
Dallas Charter
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People sets forth policies for each United States archdiocese and diocese to adopt as part of an effort to address allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. The Charter was formulated at the 2002 meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas, Texas. The Charter was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
One of three groups that comprise the clergy, meaning those ordained for ministry. Only men are permitted to become deacons. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, but only unmarried men committed to lifelong celibacy can be ordained deacons if they are planning to become priests.
Diocesan Priest
Priests under the direction of their local bishop. Most serve in the parishes of the diocese, but they may also be assigned to other diocesan ministries or released for service outside the diocese.
A territorial division of the Church headed by a bishop.
Extern Priest
A priest with faculties to minister in a diocese or archdiocese who was not ordained in that diocese or archdiocese. For example, a diocesan priest from the Diocese of Springfield who has been granted faculties to minister by the Archdiocese of Chicago is an extern priest.*
Church authorization, given by the law itself or by a Church superior, to perform certain official acts.
Members of the Catholic Church. Derived from Catholic teachings that clergy are like shepherds guiding a flock.*
Laicize or Defrock
The process by which a priest is returned to the lay state. It is sometimes used as a penalty for a serious crime, but also can come at the request of the priest. A laicized priest is barred from all priestly ministry with one exception: He may give absolution to someone in immediate danger of death. The pope must approve all requests for laicization. When a priest is laicized without his consent for a crime, such as committing child sexual abuse, it is sometimes called defrocking.
Any activity conducive to the salvation of souls. It can include ordained ministry such as liturgical leadership and administration of the sacraments, or lay ministry such as instructing children in the faith, serving the poor, visiting the sick, or being an altar server, reader, or music leader at mass.
An honorary ecclesiastical title granted by the pope to some diocesan priests.
A member of a religious order of women who has taken solemn or simple vows.
Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop. A cleric who has undergone ordination is known as ordained.*
A specific community within a diocese with its own church building and under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.
A priest in charge of a Catholic parish or congregation.
Acts performed to atone for committed sins, as directed by a priest in the Catholic sacrament of reconcilliation.*
Residential housing for clergy provided by the Church. A rectory can also contain administrative offices for a parish.*
Religious Cleric
Professed member of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders.
Religious Order or Order
An institution of men or women, at least some of whose members take solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and whose male members are sometimes ordained.*
An educational institution for men preparing for the priesthood.
A cleric who acts in the name of another cleric.*
Vicar general
A priest, auxiliary bishop, or coadjutor bishop who assists the diocesan bishop in the governance of the diocese.
Victims Assistance Coordinator

A diocesan employee who has been designated to coordinate assistance to survivors of sex abuse by clerics.*