Former Stillwater area priests added to list of those ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse

A former priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Stillwater is on a new list of priests the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor. The list also includes a former pastor at Guardian Angels in Oakdale and St. Francis of Assisi in Lake St. Croix Beach.

On Feb. 17 the archdiocese added nine names to the list of priests “against whom claims of sexual abuse of a minor … have been found to be substantiated.” The archdiocese says it released the nine names in response to an ongoing review of personnel files by Kinsale Management Consulting. The review began in December.

The latest list of names includes Thomas Gillespie, 76, a former priest at St. Mary’s in Stillwater. According to the archdiocese, Gillespie served at St. Mary’s 1978-1986, when he left the archdiocese. The archdiocese says he was removed from ministry in 1996.

Gillespie currently lives at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville. According to abbey spokesperson Aelred Senna, Gillespie is living under the “supervised restrictions of a safety plan,” and his name was included on a list the abbey voluntarily released Dec. 9, 2013. In 2003 the abbey contracted with Project Pathfinder, a St. Paul-based nonprofit, to create safety plans for monks credibly accused of abuse. The plans include professional counseling, supervision and regular meetings with a supervisor and are reviewed annually by an external review board.

Also on the new list from the archdiocese is Kenneth LaVan, 82, who served at Guardian Angels in Oakdale (formerly Lake Elmo) 1970-1983 and at St. Francis of Assisi in Lake St. Croix Beach 1983-1985. According to the archdiocese, LaVan retired from full-time ministry in 1998 and now lives in Oakdale. He was removed from all active ministry in December 2013, according to the archdiocese.

Another priest who served at Guardian Angels was included in an earlier list released by the archdiocese. Timothy McCarthy, 67, served at Guardian Angels in 1984. The archdiocese says he was permanently removed from ministry in 1991, and he is believed to live in Oakdale or St. Paul.

In a statement announcing the release of the latest list of names, archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso said that with the help of Kinsale, the archdiocese “continues to work on fulfilling the public promises we have made to create safe environments for children, care of victims, facilitate a healing process for our local church in order to restore trust with the Catholic faithful, and restore trust with clergy who are serving honorably.”

Current leaders at St. Mary’s, Guardian Angels and St. Francis were unavailable for immediate comment.

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]