Rev. Donald J. Cooper – Assignment History

Summary of Case: Donald J. Cooper was ordained for the Diocese of Erie in 1963. He taught his first year at Bradford Christian High School while residing in a Bradford parish, then assisted in Titusville and Erie parishes until 1975, when he was named pastor of St. Charles' in New Bethlehem. In 1984 he was assigned as Administrator to Mt. Calvary in Erie, followed in 1987 by a leave of absence. During 1988-1989 Cooper was an assistant priest at a parish in Dubois, after which was the lone priest until 2002 in Force Elk, followed by the same role simultaneously in Houtzdale and Ramey parishes. Cooper was a member of several diocesan committees and the Presbyteral Council, as well as the board of directors for Christ the King Manor in Dubois. There is a gap in his assignment record 2005-2006. His status was 'retired' thereafter until his death in December 2011.

Cooper's name was included on the Erie diocese's list released April 6, 2018 of priests, lay employees and volunteers accused of sexually abusing minors. The list includes the notation after his name, 'Forbidden to function as a priest.'

Born: January 27, 1936
: May 23, 1963
Died: December 16, 2011


Start Stop Assignments Town/Allegations State Position Notes


Diocese of Erie

Bishop was John Mark Gannon (1920-1966).

1964 St. Bernard's Bradford PA



St. Bernard's had a school with 280 boys and 277 girls.
1963 1964 Bradford Christian Central High School Bradford PA faculty member Bradford Christian had 125 boys and 132 girls.


Gannon was succeeded as Erie bishop by John Francis Whealon (1966-1968), followed by Alfred Michael Watson (1969-1982).

1971 St. Titus Titusville PA 2/2 St. Titus had a school with 132-72 boys and 132-91 girls.
1971 1975 St. George's Erie (Woodland Heights) PA 2/3, 1/4 St. George's had a school with 891-800 students.


Watson was replaced as Erie bishop by Michael Joseph Murphy (1982-1990).

1984 St. Charles' New Bethlehem PA 1/1, 1/2 Pastor  
1975 1984 St. Nicholas' Crates PA   This was a mission of St. Charles' in New Bethlehem.


Diocese of Greensburg

Bishop was William Graham Connare (1960-1987).

1984 SS. Cosmas and Damian Seminole PA   This was a mission of St. Charles' in New Bethlehem.
Diocese of Erie   Diocesan Budget and Finance Committee Erie PA    
Diocese of Erie   Diocesan Stewardship Committee Erie PA    
Diocese of Erie   Diocesan Presbyteral Council Erie PA    


Diocese of Erie

Bishop was Michael Joseph Murphy (1982-1990).

1987 Mount Calvary Erie PA 3/3, 1/2 Administrator Mount Calvary had a school with 163-188 students.
1987 1988 On Leave of Absence        
1988 1989 St. Catherine's Dubois PA 3/3 St. Catherine's had a school with 177 students.
    Christ the King Manor Dubois   Board of Directors member  


Murphy was succeeded as Erie bishop by Donald Walter Trautman (1990-2012).

2002 St. Joseph's Force Elk PA 1/1  
2002 2005 Christ the King Houtzdale PA 1/1 Cooper is indexed and listed at Christ the King with the title 'Monsignor.'
2002 2005 Immaculate Conception Medara PA   This was a mission of Christ the King in Houtzdale.
2002 2005 Holy Trinity Ramey PA 1/1  
2005 2006         Cooper is not indexed in the 2006 Directory, nor is he listed in the diocesan pages as at his previous assignment, or under 'Retired'.
2006 2011 Retired       Cooper died December 16, 2011.

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, 1964-2013).

Rev. Donald J. Cooper, Erie Times News via Brugger Funeral Homes, December 20, 2011
 Revision to the Policy for the Protection of Children, Diocese of Erie, April 6, 2018
 Erie Diocese Released Names of Accused Priests, Laypeople, GoErie, April 6, 2018

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 Cooper'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 July 12, 2018.


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