September 24, 2021
By Robert Herguth
Camp Tivoli, run by Norbertine priests in Wisconsin for more than 50 years, attracted numerous children from the Chicago region. It also attracted clergy as counselors and administrators who were alleged child molesters.
[Image above: An advertisement in the Chicago Sun-Times in 1968 for Camp Tivoli. The listed contact was the Rev. Joseph Rohlinger, who decades later landed on the Norbertine order’s list of sexually abusive clergy.]
In the 1970s, the Norbertine Catholic religious order bought newspaper ads in Chicago encouraging parents to send their boys to Camp Tivoli, an overnight summer camp on Wisconsin’s Shawano Lake for boys 7 to 15.
The now-closed Camp Tivoli was staffed by the order’s seminarians and priests — among them five who, according to records reviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times and interviews, later faced what the order deemed credible accusations of child sexual abuse.
The order won’t say whether any of the five ever was accused of molesting anyone at Camp Tivoli, which opened in 1925 and drew heavily from the Chicago area as well as Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul’s office is investigating how clergy sex abuse in that state has been dealt with but won’t say whether it’s looking at any Tivoli staff members.
Last month, another Catholic religious order was sued over an allegation of child sex abuse at a different sleep-away camp. A Florida man filed the federal lawsuit against the Holy Cross religious order. He says he was 10 or 11 when a Holy Cross brother molested him at a camp the order ran in New Orleans in the late 1960s.
The Sun-Times reported in May that, according to a lawsuit, the Marist Brothers knew that a member of the order, Brother Robert Ryan, had molested children but allowed him to keep working at Camp Marist, a summer camp run by the order in New Hampshire. The order disputes that.
“We know that abuse has happened in camps as much as it’s happened in schools,” says former sex crimes prosecutor Rahel Bayar, a consultant who has worked with faith-based and secular camps to prevent sexual misconduct.
Among five Norbertines who worked at Camp Tivoli before it was closed in the early 1980s and later were included by the order on its list of clergy members who faced what were deemed credible accusations of child sex abuse was the Rev. Angelo Feldkamp. He was the camp’s director from 1971 to 1975, according to his obituary. Four months after Feldkamp’s death in March 2019 at 76, his order released its first public list of members credibly accused of sexual abuse, and Feldkamp’s name was on it.
The list, updated this year with more names added, doesn’t give details about what Feldkamp or the others were accused of but says Feldkamp faced “multiple” credible accusations.
The Rev. Dane Radecki, who, as abbot, leads the order based in the Green Bay, Wis., area, won’t say whether any of the accusations involved incidents at Tivoli or say anything about when the order received them or when or where any of the incidents occurred.
Feldkamp was a faculty member at his order’s Abbot Pennings High School in De Pere, Wis., from 1968 to 1990 and then until 2002 at its successor school, Notre Dame Academy, according to his obituary.
A man who graduated from Notre Dame Academy told the Sun-Times he was a student when Feldkamp inappropriately touched him. He says his girlfriend was a student there but transferred to a public school after a priest “hit her over the head with a textbook.”
“I slipped into depression,” the man says, and his parents contacted Radecki, then the principal, seeking help.
He says Radecki sent him to Feldkamp.
“He was one of the counselors,” the man says.
He says they were both seated and that Feldkamp “moved closer and closer and closer to me. He started rubbing my knee and then to my crotch. I stood up and shoved him aside,” then left.
The man says he reported what happened but doesn’t know whether his was among the accusations that landed Feldkamp on the order’s list of abusive clergy.
The others from Camp Tivoli on the Norbertines’ list:
- The Rev. Joseph Rohlinger, who died at 87 in 2002, faced one credible accusation of abuse, according to the order. For 26 years, Rohlinger was the activities director at Tivoli, according to his obituary.
- The Rev. David Rondou, who died at 73 in 1977, faced “multiple” credible accusations. Rondou, pastor at a Green Bay church for years, “spent 24 consecutive summers at Camp Tivoli, from 1926 through 1940, as a camp counselor,” according to a Norbertine website.
- The Rev. Martin Philipsen, who died at 84 in 1998, faced “multiple” credible accusations. He was a Tivoli counselor from the late 1930s into the early 1940s, according to his obituary.
- The Rev. Arnold Schinkten, who died in 1976, faced one credible accusation of abuse, dating to the early 1960s, according to the list, to which he was added this year.