Msgr. Maurice Souza – Assignment History

Summary of Case: Maurice Souza was ordained for the Diocese of Fall River in 1939. He was a parish priest, assisting in New Bedford, East Falmouth and Taunton before being named administrator in 1956 of Our Lady of Health in Fall River. From there he pastored St. Anthony's in Taunton (1962-1977) followed by St. Anthony's in East Falmouth (1977-1986). Souza held several leadership positions in the diocese and was elevated to Monsignor status in 1969. He retired in 1986 and died August 17, 1996.

In 2012 the Fall River diocese was notified of allegations that Souza had sexually abused two altar boys from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, when Souza was pastor of St. Anthony's in East Falmouth and the boys were ages 9 and 10 to age 17. The abuse was said to have occurred in Massachusetts, Connecticut and elsewhere during trips for athletic events and other activities. Souza allegedly would have the boys sleep over with him in hotel rooms, a church rectory and in Souza's Taunton residence, and he would both reward and threaten them.

Investigators for the diocese determined that there wasn't enough support for "some of the more serious allegations." Attempts at mediation failed, and the men filed suit in January 2014.

: September 24, 1912
: 1939
Retired: 1986
Died: August 17, 1996

Start Stop Assignments Town/Allegations State Position Notes


Fall River diocese

Bishop was James Edward Cassidy (1934-1951).

  St. John the Baptist New Bedford MA   This assignment is per news reports.
1939 1943 St. Anthony's East Falmouth MA 2/2  
1943 1951 St. Anthony of Padua's Fall River MA 2/2  


Cassidy was succeeded as Fall River bishop by James Louis Connolly (1951-1970).

1956 St. Anthony's Taunton MA 2/3 St. Anthony's had a school with 72-84 boys and 62-75 girls.
1956 1962 Our Lady of Health Fall River MA 1/1, 1/2 Administrator  
1958 1974 Diocesan Tribunal Fall River MA Pro-synodal judge  
Diocesan Commission on Sacred Music Fall River MA    


Daniel Anthony Cronin replaced Connolly as Fall River bishop (1970-1991).

1977 St. Anthony's Taunton MA

1/2, 1/3

Souza was elevated to Monsignor status in 1969.

St. Anthony's had a school until 1972 with 175-88 boys and 197-87 girls.
1968 1977 Taunton Deanery Fall River MA Dean  
    Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Fall River MA Moderator for Cape Cod and Islands District. This assignment is per Souza's obituary.
1977 1986 St. Anthony's

East Falmouth

Souza was accused in a lawsuit filed in a January 2014 in Connecticut of having sexually abused two St. Anthony's altar boys from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, beginning when the boys were ages 9 and 10 and ending when they were age 17. Souza's accusers said the abuse occurred in Massachusetts, Connecticut and elsewhere, during trips for athletic events and other activities. They said they would spend nights with Souza in hotel rooms, a church rectory and in Souza's Taunton residence. The abuse was said to have included "body massages, rubbing plaintiff's groin area and buttocks, and genital manipulation on the plaintiff for the purpose of sexual gratification and then requiring the plaintiff to mimic the same behavior upon Monsignor Souza." Souza would alledgedly both reward and threaten the boys.

MA 1/2

The lawsuit accused then-Fall River Bishop Daniel Cronin of negligence. Cronin went on to be archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut.

Per the Fall River diocese in 2014, it was first informed of the allegations against Souza in 2012. Diocesan investigators decided that there was not enough support for "some of the more severe allegations." Souza's accusers were offered counseling. Attempts at mediation failed.


Sean Patrick O'Mally, O.F.M.Cap. succeeded Cronin (1992-2002).

1996 Retired Fall River MA   Souza was a resident of the Catholic Memorial Home. He died August 17, 1996.

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, 1940-1997).

Msgr. Maurice Souza, The Anchor, August 23, 1996
Lawsuit accuses Diocese of Fall River, former bishop of failing to prevent priest's alleged sex abuse of two altar boys, by Brian Fraga, Wicked Local Falmouth, May 12, 2014
Fall River Priest, Diocese Named in Abuse Lawsuit, by Nicole Gerber, ABC 6, May 13, 2014
Ex-bishop named in sex abuse suit, by Curt Brown, Cape Cod Times, May 13, 2014
Ex-archbishop Cronin Named in Suit Accusing Priest, by Matthew Kaufman, Hartford Courant, May 13, 2014
Former Altar Boys Allege Sex Abuse at Roman Catholic Church in Falmouth, Claim Former Bishop of Fall River Did Nothing to Stop It, Mass Live (AP), May 13, 2014
Group offers support for two men who claim they were abused by Fall River Diocese priest, by Curt Brown, South Coast Today, May 13, 2014
Lawsuit Accused Deceased Fall River Priest of Sexual Abuse, by Cierra Putman, Turn to 10, May 13, 2014
 Diocese details efforts to resolve new sex abuse claims; result called "unreasonable", by Brian Fraga, Wicked Local Dighton, May 13, 2014
Former altar boys file sexual abuse lawsuit, WPRI, May 13, 2014
Men sue FR Diocese, retired bishop, alleging abuse, by Steve Klamkin, WPRO, May 13, 2014
Mediation failed in Fall River Diocese priest sex abuse case, by Curt Brown, South Coast Today, May 14, 2014

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 Souza'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 February 5, 2018.


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