Assignment Record– Rev. Donald J. Whelan

Summary of Case: Donald J. Whelan was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, ordained in 1957. He was assigned to assist in Pearl River, Bronx and Nyack parishes before being named Administrator of a Newburgh parish in 1979. He left Newburgh in 1985 to return to Nyack as lead priest. He reportedly died in 1988.

Whelan was accused in a February 2004 lawsuit of having sexually abused a boy during 1964-1965, when the boy was ages 11-12 and Whelan was assigned to St. John Vianney parish in the Bronx. According to the suit, Whelan stepped in to help the boy's mother after she and her husband divorced, leaving her alone with seven children. The abuse, including penetration, allegedly took place in the parish rectory, in a beach cabana and during overnight trips to the Rockaways. Whelan was said to have told the boy not to tell because it would hurt his mother, and no one would believe him.

Ordained: 1957
Died: 1988


Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop was Francis Joseph Spellman (1939-1967).

1964 St. Margaret's Pearl River NY 3/3

St. Margaret's had a school with 233-404 boys and 215-400 girls.



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

1968 St. John Vianney

New York (Bronx)

Whelan was accused in a 2004 lawsuit of sexually abusing a boy during 1963-1964, when the boy between 11 and 12 years-old. Whelan was said to have stepped in to help the boy's mother after his parents divorced, leaving her alone with seven children. The abuse allegedly occured in the parish rectory, on overnight trips to the Rockaways and in a beach club cabana. Per the lawsuit, the abuse included anal penetration. Whelan allegedly told the boy not to tell because no one would believe him, and that telling would hurt his mother.

NY 2/3, 3/3

St. John Vianney's had a school with 454-450 boys and 445-605 girls.

The lawsuit misspells Whelan's name as "Whalen."

1968 1979 St. Ann's Nyack NY 3/3, 4/4 St. Ann's had a school with 442-247 students.


John J. O'Connor followed Cooke as New York archbishop (1984-2000).

1985 St. Patrick's Newburgh NY 2/3, 2/4 Administrator Auxiliary Bishop Austin B. Vaughn is the first priest listed at the parish.

St. Patrick's had a school and a CCD program.
1979 1985 Our Lady of the Lake Orange Lake NY   This was a mission of St. Patrick's in Newburgh.
1985 1987 St. Ann's Nyack NY 1/4

St. Ann's had a school with 146 students.

Whelan is not indexed beyond the 1987 Directory, nor is he included in the Directory's Necrology section. He reportedly died in 1988.

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, 1957-1985).

Complaint, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, February 26, 2004
15 Sue Archdiocese in Decades-Old Cases, By Stephanie Saul, Newsday, February 28, 2004
Donald Whelan,, accessed July 20, 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 Whelan'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 23, 2017.


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