Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham—Assignment Record

Born: April 30, 1934
St. John's Seminary
: February 2, 1960
Incardinated: Boston archdiocese


Start Stop Parish Town State Position Notes
2/16/60 11/16/64 Our Lady of Fatima
Abuse ranged from fondling to rape.
• The Hogan Complaint, p. 6, lists 12 survivors from Sudbury.
• Chancellor Sexton met with 2 Sudbury surviors in 1964, and Birmingham apologized.
• See the affidavit of Thomas R. Blanchette, a Sudbury survivor.
MA 2/2. Rev. Robert H. Hurley was the pastor. Birmingham was transferred to Salem because of two abuse complaints.
11/16/64 2/2/70 St. James
Abuse included fondling, oral rape, and attempted anal rape.
• The Hogan Complaint, pp. 7-9, lists 18 survivors from Salem, including Jamie Hogan. See article.
• See the statement of Paul Cultrera, a Salem survivor.
• See the article on survivor Bernie McDaid.
• See the affidavit of Mary Elaine Carrette McGee.
• See the letter of Rev. Patrick J. Kelly.
MA 4/4. Pastor was Msgr. Timothy F. O'Leary, dean of the Salem deanery. Other priests were John M. Donelin, John B. McCormack, and Birmingham. McCormack was the "deanery director" for the Vocations Office 1963-67 under Msgr. Thomas J. Finnegan, who was also Vice-Chancellor. McCormack became the Salem regional director of Catholic Charities in 1967. Donelin also left in 1967, and the lineup became O'Leary, Birmingham, Gerald J. Hickey, and William J. Raftery. In 1968 the rectory changed again, with O'Leary, Hickey, and Raftery leaving. The lineup became Rev. Patrick H. Curtin as pastor, Rev. James P. Muldoon, and Birmingham. Rev. Robert J. Fountain came in 1969, becoming the #2 priest.

The parish elementary school had 300 boys and 307 girls. The principal was Sr. Grace Kenning SND.

Birmingham was transferred to Lowell because of numerous abuse complaints.

2/2/70 6/7/77 St. Michael's
Abuse included fondling, oral rape, and attempted anal rape.
• The Hogan Complaint, p. 10, lists 18 survivors from Lowell, but see article Dozens More.
• See article on survivor David Lyko.
MA 3/4. The pastor was Rev. John A. Cantwell. Other priests were Revs. John W. Giles, Birmingham, and Jon C. Martin. In 1971, Gerald P. Kierce replaced Giles, then left in 1972. Birmingham became #2, Martin was #3, and Rev. Peter J. O'Hara was in residence while associate director of Catholic Charities in Lowell. Martin left in 1973 and Revs. Paul L. Clougherty and William J. Lawton joined as #3 and #4. In 1975, Clougherty was replaced and the lineup became Cantwell, Birmingham, Lawton, and Rev. Thomas E. Keyes. Birmingham is double-listed here and at St. Columbkille's in the 1978 Directory, but is indexed to the new parish. The parish elementary school had 298 boys and 323 girls.
6/7/77 9/10/85 St. Columbkille
Abuse included repeated fondling.
• The Hogan Complaint, p. 10, lists 2 survivors.
• See also the affidavit of John Doe 3.
MA 6/7, in residence. Pastor was Msgr. Matthew P. Stapleton. Other priests were Revs. Harold F. Lawson, Ronald L. Bourgault, Edward T. Kelley; and in residence, Richard J. Craig, Birmingham, and Carney E. Gavin. Craig was assistant director of Family Counseling and Guidance Centers. Gavin was at the Harvard Semitic Museum. The 1978 Directory lists no other appointment for Birmingham. In 1978, Bourgault was replaced and the lineup was Stapleton, Lawson, Rev. Daniel J. Hurley, Kelley, and Birmingham (no longer in residence); still in residence were Craig and Gavin. In 1979, Rev. Joseph T. Sheehy replaced Stapleton and Rev. Michael D. Merchant joined in residence. In 1980, more changes resulted in the lineup: Sheehy, Rev. Finlay MacLellan, Kelley, Birmingham, and Craig, with Gavin in residence. The parish elementary school had 455 students. The parish HS had 141 boys and 169 girls.
11/1/77   Brighton Municipal Court Brighton MA Juvenile Court Chaplain. The chairman of the archdiocese's juvenile court program was Rev. Thomas F. Oates, who was also assistant director of the Priest Personnel Board.  
9/10/85 2/17/87 St. Ann's
Abuse included repeated fondling and masturbation, oral and anal rape.
• The Hogan Complaint, p. 10, lists 3 survivors.
• See the affidavit of Beatrice Ciaramitaro and Birmingham's admission to Bishop Banks.
MA 1/4, administrator until 2/18/86, then pastor. Other priests were Revs. Edward W. Beucler, Edward S. Redmond, and John M. Picardi. When Birmingham was removed, Rev. Richard L. Casey was made pastor.

Parish elementary school had 192 students.

Removed after he was confronted by Bishops Mulcahy and Banks and admitted abusing a handicapped boy.

9/10/85 2/17/87 St. Joseph's Magnolia MA Mission of St. Ann's.  
2/17/87 5/19/87 Institute of Living
Hartford CT Patient See the Institute's optimistic assessment.
5/19/87 2/1/89 St. Brigid's
Lexington MA 2/5. Pastor was Msgr. John P. Keilty. Other priests were Revs. Birmingham, Stephen M. Healey, and Paul Chun, with Robert P. Deeley in residence.  
2/1/89 4/19/89 Sick Leave        
4/19/89   Died • See the affidavit of Thomas R. Blanchette.      

: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1961-1990); archdiocesan assignment record. archdiocesan documents. See also:

Suit Names Archdiocese, N.H. Bishop, by Sacha Pfeiffer and Thomas Farragher, Boston Globe, March 24, 2002

N.H. Bishop Offers Apology to Dozens of Alleged Victims, by Michael Rosenwald and Stefany Moore, Boston Globe, January 29, 2003

Dozens More Allege Abuse by Late Priest, by Sacha Pfeiffer, Boston Globe, April 4, 2002

A Second Priest in Boston Is Accused of Years of Abuse, by Pam Belluck, New York Times, April 5, 2002

'I Wanted to Run': When He Was an Altar Boy in Salem, Bernie McDaid Tried to Hide from His Priest's Sexual Advances, But he Couldn't Escape, by Bella English, Boston Globe, May 15, 2002

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.

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 Birmingham's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as they are reported in the archdiocesan documents and in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report. We remind our readers that in the U.S. judicial system, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

A Note on Nomenclature: We use the term "assignment record," instead of the more common "service record," because "service" is not an appropriate word for the activities of an abusive priest. Dioceses are often less than forthcoming about the activities of retired priests, but when we can determine those activities, we list them in these assignment records, particularly if they involve ministry. Retired priests remain under obedience to their bishop, and even the activities of laicized priests should be a concern to the diocese.

This assignment record was last updated on 1/16/07.