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Survivor Narratives

Thomas Job

There is one constant in Father Thomas Job’s lengthy priesthood in the Archdiocese of Chicago—his sexual abuse of teenage boys. He started when he was a deacon still completing his seminary education and continued after ordination into the priesthood at every parish to which he was assigned. And he continued to abuse children even after their parents and school officials pleaded with archdiocesan officials to do something—anything—to stop him.

The warning signs were there from the beginning. During the late 1960s, when Job was still enrolled in seminary at Saint Mary of the Lake, a priest noted Job always had “boys of the parish to work with him” on projects. A summer 1967 letter from Job recounts how he “took four boys from the parish along, and went down to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina” for two weeks of “camping, a pastime which I particularly enjoy.” Job explained these children “worked for me at the rectory doing maintenance work and putting what they earned toward the trip. The parish more or less sponsored the trip, but the boys earned it on their own.” Some priests were even aware that Job had “propositioned [someone’s] son for some type of sexual act” while volunteering at Saint Peter Damian in Bartlett, where his parents lived. According to the pastor of that parish, Job “does not work alone but has a group of boys who work with him.”

The principal spoke to other archdiocesan officials to compel action from someone to protect the children in her school—indeed, she “begged them” for help—but, as she put it, she “couldn’t get anyone from the Archdiocese to listen.”

From about 1969 through 1970, Job was assigned to Santa Maria del Popolo in Mundelein. He was a “transitional” deacon—a sort of trial run for a seminary student on the cusp of being ordained a priest. And indeed, the iniquities Job committed during this time did foreshadow those he would later commit as an ordained priest of the archdiocese. One survivor came forward in April 2008; he told the archdiocese that when he was in the seventh grade, Job would take him upstairs to the rectory and then give him a “hug” in which Job’s hands ended up inside the survivor’s pants; this happened about 20 times. Another survivor published a book in 2009 in which he disclosed that Job had taken him and other boys from Santa Maria del Popolo to swim naked in the seminary’s nearby pool; another time, Job took the survivor to his home, where they swam in their underwear and afterwards Job sat the boy on his knee and told him it was “okay to be naked.” One of his colleagues from Santa Maria del Popolo later recalled to archdiocesan investigators that Job was “a pompous person who thought very highly of himself” and “was very reluctant to leave” the parish once he was ordained a priest and his diaconate came to an end in the spring of 1970.

Job’s first assignment was as an associate pastor at Saint John Vianney in Northlake. Despite the change in scenery, his predilection for young boys continued. A survivor approached the archdiocese in October 2003 to tell of his abuse. Job provided the survivor with alcohol and would hug, kiss, and fondle him; Job also forced the survivor to engage in mutual oral sex, as well as sleeping in the same bed and showering with him. The abuse occurred for approximately three years in the early 1970s, when the survivor was in the fourth through seventh grades.

The survivor reported the abuse to the school’s principal, who confirmed the account when contacted by the archdiocese’s investigators decades later. She told the investigator she became suspicious of Job immediately upon his arrival in the parish because “Job was always with boys, taking them on trips and overnights at the rectory.” He would even fly them in his airplane to visit his cottage in Wisconsin—luxuries Job was apparently able to afford because of his family’s money. Then, the survivor and “another boy went to see her in her office, and told her that Fr. Tom was doing something bad to them.” She reported the allegations to the pastor, but he “didn’t believe her” and “dismissed it” without any follow-up. The principal spoke to other archdiocesan officials to compel action from someone to protect the children in her school—indeed, she “begged them” for help—but, as she put it, she “couldn’t get anyone from the Archdiocese to listen.” Ultimately, she “resigned from her position because she ‘couldn’t take it anymore.’” For many years she “carried her upset (that the Church did not act responsibly)” when confronted with these allegations.

These were not the only acts of child sex abuse Job committed at Saint John Vianney. Many other survivors have come forward to the archdiocese in recent years with similar accounts about Job’s tactics and the harm they suffered at his hands. One of them had even reported the abuse to the Northlake police in 1975, upon which Job was arrested. The former principal recalls hearing that the boy’s father “was threatening to go with a shotgun to confront the accused cleric” in his jail cell and “Job was gone from St. John Vianney the next day.” It is unclear why no criminal charges resulted from this incident.

Despite this appalling denouement to Job’s tenure at Saint John Vianney, he was quickly and quietly shuffled to another unsuspecting parish—Saint Cletus in LaGrange. A priest was tasked to keep an eye on Job “because of inappropriate behavior with some children in Northlake” but those “monthly meetings were terminated in early ’78 as there did not seem to be any reason to continue”—a decision that priest later regretted as a “mistake.” In that same year, Job began abusing several young boys—an ordeal that began when they were in seventh grade and lasted through their sophomore year of high school. Job “taught” the “boys how to masturbate” and provided them with pornography. He also bought them expensive gifts. These incidents took place on a weekly basis at the church rectory and at Job’s home.

In 1983—a year after Job had left Saint Cletus for Saint Joseph in Libertyville—the parents of one of these survivors learned of the abuse and reported it to the pastor and principal of Saint Cletus, as well as the vicar for priests. Job confessed and later wrote a letter to the survivor in which he said he was “‘terribly sorry for what I did to you’” and could never “make up to you for the way in which I used you.” (Disturbingly, the letter also sought to reestablish contact; in response, the survivor’s mother warned the archdiocese that she did not want Job writing her son again.)

The vicar for priests began meeting with Job “on a regular basis for support and supervision” and also arranged for the pastor at Saint Joseph to serve “as an on-site supervisor.” He “was also ordered to avoid further contacts with young people.” Although Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was made aware, the archdiocese did not remove Job from his current position at Saint Joseph. He would continue to have access to young boys, and parishioners were not informed about his wrongdoing. As Job’s former principal at Saint John Vianney told the archdiocese years later, after Job left that parish and was “assigned to subsequent parishes, she received more than one phone call out of more than one parish asking her how he could have gone from parish to parish” without anyone raising an alarm or putting a stop to it.

Indeed, at Saint Joseph, Job continued committing crimes against children—and crimes against the church too. When Job was transferred to that parish, the pastor received an anonymous letter saying, “Watch out for Job. He plays with boys and he steals from the collection.’” On advice of the vicar for priests, the pastor confronted Job about “all the teenage boys going up to [his] room”; Job denied wrongdoing but did stop hosting boys in his room. The pastor also began “keeping track of the collections.” He found that when Job was away on vacation “in June and July the collection jumps about $2,000 per Sunday and the percentage of loose money jumps to 6%-14% of the total collection instead of 2%-3%.”

Two months after the pastor reported this to church officials, Cardinal Bernardin granted Job’s request for a six-month sabbatical at his cottage in Wisconsin beginning in June 1987; Job said he was “getting very nervous about all the articles in the newspaper” (apparently regarding child sex abuse by priests) and wanted “to get away from the rectory” and “from public life” so he could “sort things out.” The vicar for priests recommended this course of action in part because he believed the archdiocese “need[ed] to be both supportive to [Job] and conscientious about our legal and moral responsibilities as well.” But in December of that year, the vicar for priests learned that Job was “still taking kids up” to the cottage. In addition, Job met with parish boys at a gym in Lake Forest, where he would “video tape[ ] the people going through their gymnastic routines.” The pastor of Saint Joseph observed that “this was a rather strange thing for a priest to be doing,” and the vicar for priests agreed Job “has to be supervised by someone, and someone will have to check out the rumors that he is still taking youngsters to his cottage.” But nothing appears to have been done.

Instead, a month later, Job was assigned to the final stop of his tumultuous tenure in the archdiocese—Saint Bede in Ingleside. A few months in, church officials conceded ominously that Job had fallen through the cracks and, “in effect, he is not under supervision by anyone connected with diocesan administration.” In June 1990, the pastor of Saint Bede reported that parish boys were visiting Job’s house and some were staying overnight. This apparently prompted the vicar for priests to observe that Job “is considered a high risk both regarding liability and scandal.” Job was reported to have been “panicked” by this episode and determined to leave Saint Bede and resign from the priesthood. Yet, by September, his plans had changed; although he was now working as an alcohol counselor at the Lake County Health Department, he continued to live at Saint Bede and had now determined “he wishes to stay in Priesthood.” In November 1990, however, the vicar for priests noted that Cardinal Bernardin “thinks [Job] should not be in a parish.” In August 1991, during discussions about assigning Job to yet another unsuspecting parish, the vicar for priests remarked on the archdiocese’s “ongoing concern that [Job] is not in a more closely supervised environment.”

These events culminated in November 1991 with Cardinal Bernardin’s acceptance of Job’s resignation from the priesthood. In a cover letter to the cardinal enclosing his resignation letter, Job wrote: “You have been aware for years of my personal problem. I can only reiterate my sorrow over the embarrassment I have been to the priesthood and to the Archdiocese. . . . I have come to realize that I will never be trusted to function without supervision and that I will never be fully accepted as a ‘normal’ priest again—whatever that means. I’m sure that the legal department of the diocese would rejoice over your acceptance of my resignation—and I can truly understand why.” The cover letter contains no mention of—and certainly no expression of concern for—the many children Job had abused over the course of two decades.

In a cover letter to the cardinal enclosing his resignation letter, Job wrote: “You have been aware for years of my personal problem....."

In subsequent years, Job continued working at the Lake County Health Department. That career too came to an ignominious end in 2011, when a Lake County judge sentenced Job to a year in jail for embezzling public funds from his employer. As late as 2004, the archdiocese received reports that Job was falsely representing himself to be a priest in good standing; he even distributed communion and performed funeral rites. The archdiocese did not publicly disclose his abuse of children until October 2005. He was finally laicized in 2010. Since Job resigned from the priesthood, numerous survivors have approached the archdiocese to share their experience of sexual abuse at Job’s hands.

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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.*