Former Jamestown priest convicted of sexual assault removed from the priesthood

Jamestown Sun [Jamestown ND]

March 8, 2024

By Jamestown Sun staff

Neil Pfeifer was removed from active ministry on Jan. 14, 2023

A former Jamestown priest who was convicted of sexual assault was removed from the priesthood effective Friday, March 8, announced Bishop John Folda with the Diocese of Fargo.

Neil Pfeifer, 49, formerly a priest of the Diocese of Fargo, received a dispensation from the clerical state from Pope Francis.

“When members of the clergy or others representing the Church abuse someone, they violate a sacred trust,” Folda said in a press release. “Please join me in praying for healing for all those hurt in this situation.”

The decision to laicize a priest is determined by the Holy See. Laicization means that Pfeifer has been returned to the lay state and may no longer exercise priestly ministry.

As a result, in accordordance with Canon Law, Pfeifer may no longer celebrate Mass, hear confessions or administer other sacraments. Laicization does not invalidate sacraments that he previously administered.

Pfeifer sought the dispensation after adult women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

He pleaded guilty in July to a misdemeanor charge of sexual assault in Southeast District Court in Jamestown.

Pfeifer was removed from active ministry on Jan. 14, 2023. He served St. James Basilica in Jamestown, St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic Church in Buchanan and St. Mathias Catholic Church in Windsor.

Pfeifer came to St. James Basilica after the death of Monsignor Jeffrey Wald in October 2020.

“The Diocese of Fargo is steadfast in its commitment to provide safe environments,” Folda said. “If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by a church worker, please report it to the proper authorities.”

The Diocese of Fargo’s victim assistance coordinator is available at 701-356-7965.