Rev. Gale Leifeld, O.F.M. Cap.

Summary of Case: Leifeld was the principal of St. Lawrence Seminary until 1982, then academic dean at Sacred Heart School of Theology until 1993. One civil suit alleges Leifeld and fellow Caupchin friars Jim Buser and James Wolf molested a St. Lawrence student. The suit's plaintiff had become a counselor for men abused by clergy and claims his own therapy in 1992 revealed flashbacks. The suit was in tried 1995 but the jury found it was too late under the statute of limitations. Leifeld admitted to the abuse of at least seven in a deposition, but denied abuse of the plaintiff. Leifeld is said to have sexually abused at least several dozen St. Lawrence Seminary students. He died in June 1994.

Ordained: 1954

Died: June 1994

Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Milwaukee archbishop was Albert Gregory Meyer (1953-1958)

1957 St. Francis Vocational School Mt. Calvary WI

Prefect, Spiritual Director

The school had 21 students.


Meyer was replaced by William Edward Cousins (1958-1977), followed by Rembert George Weakland (1977-2002)

1982 St. Lawrence Seminary

Mt. Calvary

Leifeld admitted in Feb. 1994 testimony to having sexually abused seven former St. Lawrence Seminary students. (Wisconsin State Journal [Madison WI]
February 19, 1994) Leifeld denied abusing the plaintiff in the 1994 civil trial against the Capuchins.

There is said to have been a report to the Capuchins in 1966 by a student that Leifeld had sexually assaulted him; also that Capuchin authorities received a "steady flow" of reports of sexual abuse by Leifeld throughout his career. (, February 10, 2004)

One former St. Lawrence student and Leifeld accuser has said that, as a public advocate for clergy sex abuse victims, he has spoken with "several dozen" Leifeld victims, two of whom have suicided. He says, further, that at least nine of friars at St. Lawrence had molested students. (The SNAP - Wisconsin
November 14, 2010)

WI Assistant Registrar (1957-1958), Registrar (1958-1965), Dean of Studies (1966-1976), Acting Rector (1976-1977), Rector (1977-1982) This was a Capuchin Franciscan minor seminary, for high school boys considering religious life. During this time it had 358-274 students
    St. Robert's Shorewood WI assistant St. Robert's is described as "a large archdiocesan parish with a popular parochial school". (, February 10, 2004)
1982 1984        

Leifeld is not indexed or listed in the 1983 or 1984 Directories.

He reportedly had been removed from the seminary for "moral problems". (, February 10, 2004)

1984 1993 Sacred Heart School of Theology Hales Corners WI Director of Continuing Education (1984-1986), Director of Recruitment (1986-1990), Academic Dean (1990-1993) Reportedly removed from Sacred Heart by Weakland when it became clear that news of Leifeld's sexual behavior was about to be made public. Leifeld was sent to a New Mexico treatment center for clergy sex offenders. (, February 10, 2004)
1993 1994   Milwaukee WI  

The 1994 Directory indexes Leifeld as at the St. Bonaventure Friary in Detroit, which was the Capuchin Provincial Headquarters. However, Leifeld is reported to have been living by later 1993 with another priest in a Milwaukee apartment. (, February 10, 2004)

Leifeld died June 22, 1994.

Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1955-1995).

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 & 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 was last updated on June 27, 2011


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