Rev. Chester J. Gawronski– Assignment History

Summary of Case: Chester Gawronski was a priest of the Diocese of Erie, ordained in 1976. He assisted at parishes in Oil City, Bradford, Meadville, Sagertown and Erie.

In 1984 a youth told his parents that Gawronski had molested him in the late 1970s, when he was an 11-year-old altar boy St. Bernadette's in Saegertown. He said that the abuse occurred on an overnight trip at a camping lodge in Oil City. The boy's father contacted diocesan officials and was told in a letter that action that would "be helpful to Father Chet," would be taken, to not pursue the matter further, and to keep it quiet. Gawronski was reportedly sent to Maryland for treatment, after which he was placed at St. Patrick's (later St. Patrick's/St. Hedwig/s) followed by St. Ann's in Erie. Per the diocese, Gawronski's ministry was restricted.

In February 2002 Gawronski was working as a chaplain at a facility for the elderly. He was removed the day after the father of the boy allegedly abused in the late 1970s contacted the diocese to inquire as to the priest's status. Gawronski was removed the following day.

Gawronski was laicized in 1976.

: 1976
Laicized: 2006


Start Stop Assignments Town/Allegations State Position Notes


Diocese of Erie

Bishop was Alfred Michael Watson (1969-1982).

1978 St. Joseph's Oil City PA



St. Joseph's had a school with 156-146 students.
1978 1979 St. Bernard's Bradford PA 4/4
In residence.
St. Bernard's had a school with 348 students.


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

1987 St. Agatha's Meadville PA 2/2, 2/3, 2/4 St. Agatha had a school, consolidated with St. Brigid, with 310-249 students.
1979 1987 St. Bernadette's


In 1984 a youth told his parents that Gawronski had molested him in the late 1970s, when he was an 11-year-old St. Bernadette's altar boy. He said that the abuse occurred on an overnight trip at a camping lodge in Oil City, when Garwonski walked in on the boy in a shower stall and started washing his genitals. He said the priest also tried to molest him in a swimming pool. The boy's parents informed diocesan officials of the allegations. Rev. Glenn Whitman, of the clergy personnel office, reportedly responded in a letter that the action they would take would "be helpful to Father Chet, " and that the family should keep the matter quiet and not pursue it further.

PA   This was a mission of St. Agatha's in Meadville.
1987 1988 On Leave of Absence       Gawronski was said to have been sent to Maryland for treatment and his ministry was to be restricted.
1988 1990 St. Patrick's Erie PA

3/4, 3/3

In residence.

St. Patrick's had a school with 214-173 students.


Donald Walter Trautman replaced Murphy as Erie bishop (1990-2012).

1992 St. Patrick's/St. Hedwig's Erie PA


Also at this parish were retired bishop Michael J. Murphy and accused priest Gerard/Gerald Krebs.




Krebs' name was included on the diocese's 4/6/18 list of the accused.

1992 1993         Gawronski is not indexed in the 1993 Directory, nor is he listed in the diocesan pages as at St. Patrick/St. Hedwig.
1993 1995 St. Patrick's/St. Hedwig's Erie PA

3/4, 3/5

Retired bishop Michael J. Murphy was still at the parish along with accused priest Thomas E. Smith 1994-1995.



Smith was accused of the sexual abuse of a boy from 1968 to 1970, when the boy was 10 to 12 years old. Several complaints were made to the bishop over the years, beginning in 1993. Smith was kept in ministry until 2002.

1995 2002 St. Ann's Erie PA 2/4, 2/3
In residence

Gawronski is not indexed beyond the 2002 Directory. He was removed from ministry in February 2002, the day after the father of the boy allegedly abused in the 1970s at St. Bernadette's called the chancery to inquire as to the priest's status. Gawronski had been working as chaplain at a home for the elderly in Asbury Ridge, St. Mary's.

Gawronski was laicized in 2006. In April 2018 he was known to have been living in Sahuarita, Arizona.

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, 1977-2002).

Victims Seek Change in Church, by Scott Westcott and Ed Palattella, Erie Times-News, April 28, 2002
 At Least 5 Priests Removed in Region, by Ed Plattella, Erie Times-News, June 29, 2003
Charges against Ex-Priest Dropped, by Ryan Smith, Meadville Tribune, March 19, 2008
 Pat Howard: Erie bishop names defrocked priests, by Pat Howard, GoErie, March 19, 2017
 Revision to the Policy for the Protection of Children, Diocese of Erie, April 6, 2018
 Erie Diocese Releases Names of Accused Priests, Laypeople, by Ed Palattella, 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 Gawronski'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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