Assignment Record – Rev. Sean Leo Rooney, s.d.b.

Summary of Case: Sean Rooney professed vows in 1958 as a Salesian brother of the New Rochelle, NY Province, and was ordained for the order in 1966. He was assigned to high schools in Boston MA, Cedar Lake IN, Paterson NJ, Marrero LA and Ramsey NJ, and to high school seminaries in Cedar Lake IN and Goshen NJ. He also spent two decades as a parish priest in Birmingham AL. Rooney was laicized in October 2008. In 2013 Rooney was accused in a lawsuit of having sexually abused a 14-year-old junior seminary student, once during a school bus trip to a retreat house in MA, and on other occasions at the junior seminary in NY.

Ordained: 1966
Laicized: 2008



Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Boston archbishop was Richard James Cushing (1944-1970).

1968 St. Dominic Savio High School Boston MA  

Savio High had 100-320 students, all boys.

The 1963-1967 Directories index but do not list Rooney in the Boston pages as at this assignment.


Gary bishop was Andrew Gregory Grutka (1956-1984).

1971 Salesian Day High School for Boys; Salesian Resident Junior Seminary; Camp Salesian for Boys; Salesian Retreat House for Boys; Salesian Boys Club Cedar Lake IN   The Junior seminary had 30-40 students.


Paterson bishop was Lawrence Bernard Brennan Casey (1966-1977).

1975 Don Bosco Technical High School Paterson NJ   Don Bosco Tech. High had 442-480 students, all boys.


New Orleans archbishop was Philip Matthew Hannan (1965-1988).

1979 Archbishop Shaw High School Marrero LA   Shaw High had 938-850 students, all boys.


New York archbishop was Terence James Cooke (1968-1983).

1981 Salesian Junior Seminary


Rooney was accused in a 2013 lawsuit of engaging in "explicit sexual behavior and lewd and lascivious conduct" with a 14-year-old seminary student in 1980. Rooney is said to have fondled and masturbated the boy during a school bus trip to from the seminary in Goshen to Sacred Heart Retreat House in Ipswich, MA. Rooney's accuser said, further, that Rooney repeatedly fondled and masturbated him on other occasions at the seminary.

NY financial administrator; counselor The Junior seminary had 40-50 students.


Newark archbishop was Peter Leo Gerety (1974-1986).

1983 Don Bosco High School for Boys Ramsey NJ councillor Don Bosco High had 871-807 students.


Birmingham bishop was Joseph Gregory Vath (1969-1987), followed by Raymond James Boland (1988-1993). Boland was succeeded by David Edward Foley (1994-2005).

2003 St. John Bosco Church Birmingham AL

1/3, 1/2, 1/1, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1

Administrator 1983-1992; In residence 1992-2001

1983 2003 Holy Rosary

Birmingham (Gate City) AL   This was a mission of St. John Bosco.


New York archbishop was Edward Michael Egan (2000-2009).

2008 Salesian Provincial House New Rochelle NY   Rooney's laicization was announced by the Salesians in October 2008.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1960-2008)

Civil complaint describing alleged child sexual abuse by Rooney, Dec. 16, 2013
Salesians of Don Bosco newsletter, New Rochelle NY, Oct. 16, 2008
Salesians List of Credibly Accused, March 31, 2020

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 Rooney'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 March 26, 2021.