Assignment Record – Rev. Norman E. Donohue, s.j.

Summary of Case: Norman E. Donohue was a priest of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, ordained in 1939. He spent 42 years in Alaska, six of them as general superior of Jesuits in Alaska. He died in 1983. Donohue was accused in a 2006 lawsuit of sexually abusing boys as young as 5 years-old in Nulato and Kaltag in the 1960s and '70s. In a 2009 lawsuit he was accused of sexually abusing an 11 to 14 year-old boy in Kaltag in the 1960s. Additionally, there were two or more pending claims shown in bankruptcy reorganization documents for Fairbanks Diocese in January 2010.

Ordained: June 16, 1939
Died: Oct. 24, 1983



Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


San Francisco archbishop was John Joseph Mitty (1935-1961).

1940 Alma College Alma CA 4th year theologian  


Seattle bishop was Gerald Shaughnessy, s.m. (1933-1950).

1941 Manresa Hall Port Townsend WA tertianship  

Sept. 6, 1941

Vicariate apostolic of Alaska bishop was Joseph Ralph John Crimont, s.j. (1904-1945).

1943 Holy Cross Mission Holy Cross AK 3/4 Holy Cross Mission had a boarding school for boys with 55 students, and a boarding school for girls and orphanage with 70 students. There were 15 "day scholars".
1941 1943   Anvik, Banezila, on Yukon River. Sleitmute, Napamute Thuluksak, Akiak, Bethel, on Kuskokwim River AK   These were stations of Holy Cross Mission.


Crimont was succeeded by Walter James Fitzgerald, s.j. (1945-1947).

1946 St. Mary's Akulurak AK 2/2 St. Mary's had a boarding school for boys with 34-36 students, and an industrial and training school and orphanage for Eskimo girls with 60-65 students.
1943 1946   Alaranak, Panreuvik, Kwiguk and others AK   These were missions of St. Mary's.
1943 1946   over 50 villages or hamlets of Yukon Delta AK   These were stations of St. Mary's.


Francis Doyle Gleeson followed Fitzgerald as Vicariate Apostolic of Alaska bishop (1948-1968).

1950 Chapel of St. Raphael and Mission Day School Black River AK   This was a mission of St. Mary's mission in Akulurak.
1950 1957 Immaculate Conception

Bethel AK 1/2, 1/1  
1950 1957 Church of the Little Flower Aniak AK   This was a mission of Immaculate Conception in Bethel.
1950 1952 St. Joseph's Kalstag AK   This was a mission of Immaculate Conception in Bethel.
1950 1952   Villages between Bethel and McGrath, on the Kuskokwim River. AK   These were stations of Immaculate Conception in Bethel.
1952 1957   Aniak, Kalskag, Nyac, McGrath AK   These were stations of Immaculate Conception in Bethel.
1950 1957 Superior Regular and Pro-Vicar   AK    


The Fairbanks diocese was established Aug. 8, 1962.

1963 Bishop's Council   AK    
1953 1966 Council of Vigilance   AK    
1957 1964 Little Flower of Jesus Hooper Bay AK 1/1  
1957 1964 Scammon Bay   AK   This was a station of Little Flower of Jesus in Hooper Bay.
1964 1966 Holy Rosary Dillingham AK 1/1 Holy Rosary had a boarding school.
1965 1966 Commission for Liturgy, Sacred Music and Sacred Art   AK    


Anchorage archbishop was John Joseph Ryan (1966-1975).

1967 Copper Valley School Glennallen AK   Per Louis L. Renner, s.j.'s Alaskana Catholica.


Gleeson was succeeded as Fairbanks bishop by Robert Louis Whelan, s.j. (1968-1985).

1969 Little Flower of Jesus


Donohue was accused in a 2009 lawsuit of molesting a boy from 1965-1968, when the boy was 11 through 14 years-old. The abuse is said to have occurred in the Little Flower of Jesus rectory.

AK 1/1  
1969 1974 Our Lady of the Snows


In a 2006 lawsuit, two men claimed Donohue sexually abused them and other boys between 1967 and 1973 in Kaltag and Nulato. One of the men said he was between 6 and 9 years-old when the abuse occurred, and the other man said he was between 5 and 8 years-old. Both said Donohue would invite them to his living quarters after catechism classes, where he would fondle and perform oral sex on them and have them do the same to him.

AK 1/1  
1969 1972   Koyukuk AK   This was a station of Our Lady of the Snows in Nulato.
Aug. 1974 July 1975 St. Joseph's Tununak AK 1/1 St. Joseph's had a Montessori school.
1975 1983 St. Catherine's Chefornak AK 1/1

Newtok is listed as a mission of St. Catherine's in the 1976 Directory.

Donohue died Oct. 24, 1983.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1940-1984)

Alaskana Catholica: A History of the Catholic Church in Alaska, by Louis. L. Renner, s.j.
Alakanuk - Saint Ignatius Catholic Church, Diocese Of Fairbanks
Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Hooper Bay, Alaska: 1928-2003, Alaskan Shepherd, June-July 2003
Two Suits Claiming Church Abuse Filed, The Associated Press, carried in KTVA [Alaska], September 22, 2006
Suits Accuse Two Jesuits of Sex Abuse, By Mary Beth Smetzer, Fairbanks News-Miner [Alaska], September 23, 2006
Two Jesuits Named in Sexual Abuse Suit, The Associated Press, carried in Juneau Empire, September 24, 2006
James Doe 59 et al v. Society of Jesus, Oregon Province et al, Alaska Superior Court, 4th Judicial District at Bethel, Jan. 2009
43 More Allege Sex Abuse by Catholics, Church Leaders Are Accused of Negligent Supervision, By Lisa Demer, Anchorage Daily News, January 14, 2009
Lawsuit: Seattle U. President Knew of Abuse, By Heather Bosch, KIRO, January 14, 2009
Jesuit Head of Seattle U. Knew of Priest's Abuse, Lawsuit Claims, By Janet I. Tu and Nick Perry, Seattle Times, January 14, 2009
Seattle U. President Denies Claims That He Knew of Abuse, By Nick Perry and Janet I. Tu, Seattle Times, January 15, 2009
Excerpt from Bankruptcy Reorganization Documents for Fairbanks Diocese, Jan. 25, 2010, p. 1

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 Donohue's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation 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 December 11, 2014.