|Assignment Record – Bishop Joseph Keith Symons
Summary of Case: A Michigan native, Joseph Keith Symons was ordained in 1958 for the St. Augustine diocese, where he became a member of the diocesan Tribunal and an Episcopal Vicar. Symons was known for recruiting young people to the church and for his progressive outreach programs. He directed several camps for children, one of which he had founded. When the diocese split in 1968, Symons ministered for the diocese of St. Petersburg. He held numerous chancery positions in his new diocese. While serving as St. Petersburg's Chancellor in the early 1970s, he accepted into the diocese a known perpetrator of sexual abuse of children; Symons quietly left cash for the mother of two of that priest's victims when she confronted him years later. He denied knowing the priest was a perpetrator. Symons was elevated to Auxiliary Bishop in 1981, and was appointed Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee in 1983. In 1990 he became Bishop of Palm Beach. In 1995 Symons admitted to having sexually abused a boy years earlier, after the victim came forward; Symons said he this was his only victim and was allowed to remain in ministry. Another man disclosed sexual abuse as a child by Symons in 1998. Symons resigned several days later and admitted to having sexually abused five boys early in his career. Bishop Symons returned to his home state of Michigan where he lived in a convent and led adult spiritual retreats.
Ordained bishop: March 19, 1981.
St. Augustine bishop was Joseph Patrick Hurley (1940-1967)
• Symons admitted in 1998 that he had molested five altar boys four decades earlier. The admission came after a man in his 50s surfaced with an accusation that Symons molested him over a three year period, begining when the man was 13 years old.
|1958||St. John Manor||FL||Director||This was an overnight camp and retreat for children and youth of the diocese.|
|1958||1959||St. John's||Crescent City||FL||This was a mission of St. Monica's in Palatka.|
|1958||1959||Interlachen||FL||This was a station of St. Monica's in Palatka.|
Hurley was succeeded by Paul Francis Tanner (1968-1979)
|1968||Diocesan Tribunal||St. Augustine||FL|
|May 1959||Good Counsel Camp||Floral City||FL||Assistant Director||Symons founded this camp for children.|
|St. Jude's||St. Petersburg||FL||This assignment is per news articles.|
|St. Ignatius||Tarpon Springs||FL||This assignment is per news articles.|
|1959||1961||St. Patrick's||Pinellas Park (Largo)||FL||2/2||St. Patrick's had a school with 87-198 students.|
|1959||1961||Espiritu Santu||Safety Harbor||FL||This was a mission of St. Patricks in Pinellas Park.|
|1961||1962||Sacred Heart||Pinellas Park||FL||1/2||Sacred Heart had a school with 161 students.|
|1962||1966||St. Paul's||Leesburg||FL||1/1||St. Paul's had a school with 98-165 students.|
|1966||1968||Episcopal Vicars||St. Augustine||FL|
The diocese split in 1968. St. Petersburg bishop was Charles Borromeo McLaughlin (1968-1978)
|1971||St. Joseph's||Bradenton||FL||1/2, 1/3||St. Joseph's had a school with 202-417 students.|
|1966||1969||St. John the Apostle||Samoset||FL||This was a mission of St. Joseph's in Bradenton.|
McLaughlin was replaced as St. Petersburg bishop by William Thomas Larkin (1979-1988)
|1981||St. Mary Our Lady of Grace||St. Petersburg||FL||6/6, 7/7, 6/8, 5/8, 4/7, 3/5, 3/6, 5/6 In residence. "Very Rev."|
|Liturgical Commission||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1968||1983||Liason Commission for Interdenominational Affairs/Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1968||1983||Commission for Communications Media||St. Petersburg||FL||Chair/Director 1970-1975|
|Realty Board||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1971||1983||Vicars General||St. Petersburg||FL|
|Diocesan Consultors||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1971||1974||Vicar for Religious Women||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1971||1981||Financial Advisory Board||St. Petersburg||FL||Chair|
|1973||1981||Chancellor||St. Petersburg||FL||While he was Chancellor, in the early 1970s, Symons accepted into the diocese admitted perpetrator of child sexual abuse, Rev. Rocco Charles D'Angelo. D'Angelo remained there as an active priest for 25 years. The mother of two of D'Angelo's victims confronted Symons when he was Palm Beach bishop in 1995. Symons denied knowing about D'Angelo's abuse history, and subsequently began to leave weekly allotments of cash for the mother, for her sons' needs.|
|1974||1980||Master of Ceremonies||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1981||1983||Incardination Commission||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1978||1983||Priests' Personnel Committee||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1981||1983||Diocesan Advisory Board||St. Petersburg||FL|
|1981||1983||St. Catherine of Siena||Largo||FL||1/3||Symons was elevated to Auxilliary Bishop in 1981.|
Pensacola-Tallahassee bishop was Joseph Keith Symons (1983-1990)
|1990||Symons was appointed Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee Sept. 29, 1983, and installed Nov. 8, 1983.|
Palm Beach bishop was Joseph Keith Symons (1990-1998)
Symons was appointed Bishop of Palm Beach June 2, 1990, and installed July 31, 1990.
In 1995 a man came forward to Bishop John Smith of the Pensacola-Tallahasee diocese with an accusation that Symons had sexually abused him when he was a boy. Symons admitted the abuse, said there was "only" one victim, and was allowed to continue in ministry.
Symons resigned in 1998 after admitting to sexually abusing five boys early in his career. He said his abuse of boys ended twenty-five years earlier.
|1998||St. Luke Institute||Suitland||MD||patient|
|1999||Alma||MI||Symons was back in ministry in Michigan by 1999, living in a convent and conducting retreats for adults.|
Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1959-1998)
• Catholic Bishop Resigns after Admitting to Sexual Abuse of Children, By Lori Rozsa and April Witt, Miami Herald, June 2, 1998