Assignment Record– Rev. Joseph L. Theisen

Summary of Case: Joseph L. Theisen was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, ordained in 1959. He was assigned to parishes in Manhattan, Staten Island, Garnersville and the Bronx. There is an unexplained gap in his assignments 1983-1984. In 1987 the archdiocese began to receive allegations of child sexual abuse against Theisen. He was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete's treatment center in New Mexico, and was "Absent on Leave" until 1994 when he was voluntarily laicized. Three young men reported to the archdiocese in 1994 that Theisen had sexually abused them in the early 1980s, when they were teens. One of them alleged abuse by the priest from 1980-1984. Each of the three received settlements of $20,000, and were required to sign confidentiality agreements.

Theisen went on to live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he died in 2013.

: 1959
Born: June 18, 1933
Died: January 25, 2013


Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop was Francis Joseph Spellman (1939-1967).

1960 St. Agnes New York (Manhattan) NY 6/7

St. Agnes' had a school with 141 boys and 145 girls.


Spellman was succeeded as New York archbishop by Terence James Cooke (1968-1983).

1970 Immaculate Conception New York (Staten Island) NY 2/2, 2/3, 3/3 Immaculate Conception had a school with 213-282 boys and 145-257 girls. Theisen's middle initial is J. in the 1961 Directory.
1970 1981 St. Gregory Barbarigo


In 1994 a young man came forward with allegations that Theisen sexually abused him from ages 15 to 18, beginning in 1980. He said Theisen also sexually abused some of his friends during a month-long trip to the beach in the summer of 1981.

NY 2/2 St. Gregory's had a school with 657-563 students. Theisen's middle initial is indexed as J. in the 1970-1976 Directories.
1981 1983 St. Raymond's New York (Bronx) NY 2/6 St. Raymond's had a grade school with 594-598 students, a boys' high school with 812 students and a girls' high school with 433 students.


Cooke was replaced as archbishop by John Joseph O'Connor (1984-2000).

1984         Theisen is not indexed in the 1984 Directory, nor is he listed in the New York pages as at St. Raymond's.
1984 1987 St. Raymond's New York (Bronx) NY   St. Raymond's had a grade school with 520-498 students, a boys' high school with 777-720 students and a girls' high school with 310-301 students.
1987 1994 Absent on Sick Leave      

The archdiocese began to receive allegations against Theisen of child sexual abuse in 1987. At some point he was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete's treatment center in New Mexico.

Theisen's last name is spelled "Thiesen" in the 1988-1994 Directories. He is not indexed beyond 1994.

Three young men told the archdiocese in 1994 that Theisen had sexually abused them when they were teens in the early 1980s. Theisen's accusers received settlements of $20,000. each, with the stipulation that their accusations remain confidential.

Theisen was voluntarily defrocked in 1994. He is last known to have been living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Theisen died January 25, 2013.

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, 1960-1994).

Priest Targeted Rockland Boys' Need for Affection, By Noreen O'Donnell, Journal News, April 19, 2002
Documents Reveal How Priest Gained Trust of Teen, By Gary Stern, Noreen O'Donnell, and Bruce Golding, Journal News April 19, 2002
The Accused, USA Today, November 11, 2002
St. Gregory's Pastor Misappropriated Church Funds, Archdiocese Says, By Hema Easley, Journal News, August 10, 2010
I Was Molested By A Priest, By Anonymous, The Experience Project, December 12, 2013
Joseph L. Theisen Obituary, French Funerals-Cremations, accessed July 18, 2017

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 Theisen'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 July 18, 2017.


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.