Msgr. Othmar H. Schroeder—Assignment
Summary of Case: Allegations of abuse by Schroeder between 1947-75 at Holy Family church were made public 8/18/07. Bishop Gettelfinger stated that he knew of allegations in 1996 but recently learned that the "scope is greater than we knew." Schroeder founded the parish and the affiliated Boy Scout troop, and would often take boys hunting and camping. By 8/31/07 claims of abuse of at least 10 boys and girls had been received. Schroeder died on 2/16/88. He began as a priest of the then-diocese of Indianapolis. His 1st parish was in Lawrence IN, near Cincinnati, now in the archdiocese of Indianapolis. See below for the allegations and press coverage.
Incardinated: Diocese of Indianapolis, 1938-44; Diocese of Evansville, 1944-88.
Bishop was Joseph E. Ritter.
||Lawrenceburg||IN||2/2. Priests were Msgr. William Kreis, who was also the rural dean of the Lawrenceburg area and a member of the 5-priest Building Commission, and Schroeder.||
In the Indianapolis diocese. Now in the Indianapolis archdiocese.
Parish school had 168 pupils in 1938-39.
||Boonville||IN||2/2. Priests were Rev. August Fichter and Schroeder.||
In the Indianapolis diocese. Now in the Evansville diocese.
No school listed.
|1940||1942||Unnamed mission, later called
||Red Brush||2/2. Fichter and Schroeder.||Mission attended from St. Clement's.|
||Chrisney||IN||2/2. Fichter and Schroeder.||Mission attended from St. Clement's.|
When Evansville diocese was established on 12/19/44, Henry J. Grimmelsman (1944-65) was the 1st bishop.
||Jasper||IN||4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 2/5. Priests were Revs. Leonard Wernsing, Roman P. Heerdink, Leo Schafer, and Schroeder. In 1943, Wernsing was made pastor, Schafer left, Schroeder became #3, and Rev. Maurilius Bilskie arrived. When Evansville diocese was established in 1944, Wernsing became dean of the Jasper deanery and head of school board. In the same year, Schroeder became #2 and Heerdink dropped to #3. In 1945, Rev. John Finis replaced Heerdink. In 1946, Rev. J. John Vincius replaced Bilskie.In 1947, Finis left, Vincius became #3, and Revs. Paul Stone and Ralph Endress arrived. In 1950, Rev. John Emge replaced Endress. Wernsing died 1/31/51 and was replaced by Very Rev. August B. Fichter as pastor and dean. Fichter was Jasper dean through 1973.||
In the Indianapolis diocese; part of the Evansville diocese when it was created in 1944.
Parish school had 794 pupils in 1942-43. It had 945 pupils in 1950-51.
Bishop was Paul F. Leibold (1966-69)
Bishop was Francis R. Shea (1969-89)
|1973||Synodal Examiner||Evansville||IN||In 1948, Msgr. Leonard Wernsing took over as 1st synodal examiner, with Revs. John C. Rager, Raymond Smith, William Bastnagel, Clarence Lindauer, William Lautner, Schroeder, Maurilius Bilskie, and Lawrence Moll. Only Rager and Bastnagel were carried over from the previous group.||Synodal examiners are no longer listed in the 1974 Directory and subsequent volumes.|
• Bishop Gettelfinger received allegations in 1996 about Schroeder but kept them secret. After receiving other allegations, he made them public on 8/18/07. Others came forward, totaling more than 10 in this parish by 8/30/07. See statement and article. For confidentiality agreements in other cases, see article. and editorial.
|IN||1/1, 1/2. Founding pastor. In 1961, Rev. Donald Spaulding joined as #2. In 1962, Rev. Joseph Anders replaced Spaulding. In 1968, Rev. Walter Rinderle replaced Anders. In 1969, Rev. John Kane replaced Rinderle. Kane became the Jasper-area supt. of Catholic schools in 1971 and a defender of the bond in 1973. Rev. Albert Scheller replaced Kane in 1973.||
In the Evansville diocese.
Parish school had 224 pupils in 1951-52; and 427 pupils in 1961-62; and 536 pupils in 1971-72; and 482 pupils in 1974-75.
In the 1966 Directory, Holy Family begins to be listed first of the by-then 3 Jasper churches.
|1963||1968||Magister Noster Latin School||Evansville||IN||Schroeder and Rev. Charles Kaiser were the 2-priest Committee on Discipline for the new school, with Rev. Jerome Neufelder added in 1967. Headmaster was Rev. Donald C. Dilger. Members of other committees were Revs. James F. Hill and Robert A Deig (finance); Clarence A. Lindauer and John Shaughnessy (spiritual life); James Rogers and Roman P. Heerdink (studies). In the 1966 Directory, also named are Revs. Joseph Ziliak (vice-rector) and Rev. William Wargel.||The school had 36 pupils and was staffed by 4 diocesan priests, one of whom was Dilger. Revs. David Kissel and John Lefler are named in the 1965 Directory. The school had 74 pupils in 1967-68, and by then is classified as a "preparatory seminary."|
|1964||1967||Diocesan Consultor||Evansville||IN||In the 1965 Directory, the consultors are Msgr. Herman Mootz (also vicar general), Rev. Charles Schoettelkotte (promotor justitiae, director of Catholic Charities, and other offices); Very Revs. Clarence Lindauer and William Lautner (deans); Revs. Schroeder, James J. O'Connor, and Maurilius Bilskie.||These consultors were responsible for the diocese during the transition from Grimmelsman to Leibold.|
|1969||2/16/88||Property and Liability Insurance
Diocesan Insurance Comission
|Evansville||IN||6/8, with Msgr. Omer F. Meyer #2. Chancellor Clarke was #1.||Membership is first detailed in the 1970 Directory.|
|1972||Monsignor||First listed as Msgr. in the 1973 Directory.|
|1973||1975||Diocesan Consultor and Member of Priests' Senate||Evansville||IN|
|1974||1983||Dean of Jasper Deanery||Jasper||IN|
No school listed, but a convent with 4 nuns.
In the 1976 Directory, when Schroeder is first listed in Schnellville, Rev. John V. Foster is first listed as youth minister at St. Joseph's back in Jasper.
Source: Official Catholic Directory
(New York: Kenedy & Sons, 1939-1989). See also:
- Memo: To the Media, Parish and Diocese of Evansville, by Fr. John Boeglin (August 18, 2007)
- Statement to Holy Family Parish, by Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger (August 18, 2007)
- Bishop: Priest Abused Boys: Former Jasper Pastor Died in '88, Associated Press (August 21, 2007)
- Long Dead, a Revered Small-Town Priest Is Disgraced, by Michael Rubino, New York Times (August 30, 2007)
- Bishop Speaks out about Sex Abuse Scandal, by Sarah Cornell, WEHT (August 30, 2007)
- New Victims Claim Priest Abuse, by Susan Orr, Courier & Press (August 31, 2007)
- Number of Allegations Rises against Southern Indiana Priest, by Ryan Lenz, Associated Press (August 31, 2007)
- Diocese Never Reported Incidents, by Maureen Hayden, Evansville Courier & Press (May 5, 2002)
- Our View: Compassion for Victims Not Readily Apparent, Editorial in the Evansville Courier & Press (May 12, 2002)
- Gettelfinger Makes a Stand: Local Bishop Was One of the Few to Vote Against Revised Abuse Policies, by Jessice Wehrman, Evansville Courier & Press (November 14, 2002)
- Consolation Cannot Be Found in Abstractions, by Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger (December 19, 2003) [data from Evansville diocese's John Jay report]
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 Schroeder's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as stated by Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger and reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report. We remind our readers that in the U.S. judicial system, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty.
A Note on Nomenclature: We use the term "assignment record," instead of the more common "service record," because "service" is not an appropriate word for the activities of an abusive priest. Dioceses are often less than forthcoming about the activities of retired priests, but when we can determine those activities, we list them in these assignment records, particularly if they involve ministry. Retired priests remain under obedience to their bishop, and even the activities of laicized priests should be a concern to the diocese.
This assignment record was last updated on August 31, 2007.