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Rev. Leonard R. Chambers – Assignment History

Summary of Case: Leonard R. Chambers was ordained in 1965 for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. He was assigned to more than twenty parishes during his career, assisting and serving as administrator early on, then assigned as pastor for the first time in 1974. Chambers held a number of diocesan positions, serving as president or chair of several.

In August 1982 Bishop Bernard Law placed Chambers on leave after the parents of a teenage boy complained that the priest had molested their son. Chambers admitted to the abuse. He spent ten months at the Servants of the Paraclete's treatment facility in Jemez Springs, NM, after which he was returned to ministry. In the mid-1990s Springfield-Cape Girardeau bishop Leibrecht placed restrictions on Chambers, prohibiting him from being alone with minors. When Chambers was found alone with a minor in 1998, Leibrecht forced him to retire. Chambers is not indexed in the Official Catholic Directory after 2002. He is last known to have been living in Joplin, MO.

Ordained
: 1965


     

Start Stop Assignments Town/Allegations State Position Notes

1965

Diocese of Springfield- Cape Girardeau

Bishop was Ignatius Jerome Strecker (1962-1969).

1966 St. Mary's Pierce City MO 2/2

St. Mary's had a school with 286 students.

 

1965 1966 St. Michael's Wentworth MO   This was a mission of St. Mary's in Pierce City.
    Sacred Heart Webb City MO temporary administrator This assignment is per news reports.
1966 1968 St. Peter's Joplin MO 2/2 St. Peter's had a school with 178-168 students.
1968 1969 Cathedral of St. Mary Cape Girardeau MO 2/2 The Cathedral had a school with 335 students.
October 1969   St. Joseph the Worker Ozark MO administrator This assignment is per news reports.

1969

Strecker was succeeded by William Wakefield Baum (1970-1973).

1973 Holy Trinity Springfield MO 3/3, 2/4, 2/3  

1973

Bernard Francis Law replaced Baum as Springfield-Cape Girardeau bishop (1973-1984).

1974 St. Joseph's Advance MO 1/1 administrator  
1973 1974 St. Anthony's Glennon MO   This was a mission of St. Joseph's in Advance.
1974 1975 St. Susanne's Mt. Vernon MO 1/2 pastor

 

1974 1975 St. Patrick's Greenfield MO administrator This was a mission of St. Susanne's in Mt. Vernon.

1974

1983

1982

1987

National Shrines and Churches Springfield-Cape Girardeau MO    
1975 1981 St. Francis de Sales Lebanon MO 1/1 St. Francis de Sales had a school until 1976 with 60 students.
1975 1982 Diocesan Liturgical Committee Springfield-Cape Girardeau MO Chair 1979-1981  
1978 1982 Diocesan Pro-Life Springfield-Cape Girardeau MO President 1979-1981  
1978 1981 Senate of Priests Springfield-Cape Girardeau MO    

1981

1992

1982

1998

Diocesan Pastoral Council Springfield-Cape Girardeau MO Executive Secretary  
July 1981 August 1982 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Springfield

Chambers was accused of molesting a teenage boy in 1981 at St. Elizabeth's. Chambers admitted to the abuse.

MO 1/1 The boy's parents reported the abuse to then - Bishop Law, who suspended Chambers and sent him to treatment for ten months at the Servants of the Paraclete's facility in Jemez Springs, NM.
August 1982 1983 On Leave        
1983 1984 Sacred Heart Salem MO 1/1  
1983 1984 Christ the King Bunker MO   This was a mission of Sacred Heart in Salem.
1983 1984 St. Jude Chapel Montauk MO    

1984

John Joseph Leibrecht succeeded Law (1984-2008).

August 1985 St. Mary's Pierce City MO 1/1 administrator, pastor St. Mary's had a school with 116 students.
August 1985 1996 Our Lady of the Cove Kimberling MO 1/1, 1/2

Our Lady of the Cove had a CCD program 1994-1996 with 119-109 students.

Bishop Leibrecht placed restrictions on Chambers in the mid-1990s, prohibiting him from being alone with minors.

August 1985   Holy Family Shell Knob MO    
1990 1998 Priests' Mutual Benefit Society Springfield-Cape Girardeau   Vice-President 1993-1997, President 1997-1998  
1995 1998 Diocesan Development Fund Springfield-Cape Girardeau MO    
1996 1998 St. Peter's

Joplin

In 1998 Chambers was found alone with a minor, which violated the restrictions he was under. He was removed from active ministry and given retirement status.

MO 1/1 St. Peter's had a school with 99 students, and a CCD program with 93 students.
1998 1999         Chambers is not indexed in the 1999 Directory, nor is he listed in the Diocesan pages as at his previous assignment.
1999 2002 Retired       Chambers is not indexed beyond the 2002 Directory. He is last known to have been living in Joplin.

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Source: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1966-2002).

Leonard Chambers, By Stephen Kurkijian, Boston Globe, March 18, 2002
No Current Local Child Abuse Cases, Diocese Says, Springfield News Leader, March 18, 2002
 Diocese Identifies Two Other Priests Accused of Abusing Minor, By Connie Farrow, Assoicated Press State & Local Wire, March 19, 2002
 Second Priest in Letter Named, By Linda Leicht, Springfield News Leader, March 19 2002
 Two More Priests Accused, Batesville Daily Guard, March 20, 2002
Diocese Announces Sweeping Changes in Sex-Abuse Policies, Springfield News Leader, March 20, 2002
 Deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law, Suffolk County Superior Court, June 5, 2002
 Bishop John Leibrecht, Dallas Morning News, June 12, 2002
 Bishop Leibrecht - Addresses Sexual Abuse to Diocese, The Mirror, March 22, 2003
 'Credible' Abuse Accusation Brought against Dead Priest, By Linda Leicht, Springfield News Leader, January 1, 2008
 New Allegation of Abuse Surfaces against Deceased Former Priest, Joplin Globe, May 1, 2017


Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Chambers's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on June 16, 2017.


 
 

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