Msgr. Drake R. Shafer

Summary of Case: Sued by an abuse victim in 2003, vicar general Shafer asked that the complaint be kept confidential, and then went public himself to deny the abuse. But then on 3/19/04, it was revealed in court that Shafer had admitted the abuse in a 4/5/02 email to the victim. As vicar general, Shafer's responsibilities had included investigating abuse cases, and even before he was appointed to that post, he had been given responsibility for monitoring the behavior of an accused priest. Shafer began his career (unusually) as pastor of a small parish, and after a year at the American School in Louvain and a year at another Davenport parish, he worked for 23 years at St. Ambrose University, his alma mater. Shafer began as a faculty member, then became Vice President of Student Services, and then chaplain and Vice President for University Ministry. In 2000 Bishop Franklin chose Shafer to be vicar general. He is now on leave.

: 1973
Seminary and Other Schools: Graduated from St. Ambrose College in 1969
Incardinated: Davenport IA

Shafer assists Bishop O'Keefe during the blessing of the new St. Ambrose gym in 1983. Vicar General Shafer in 2002.  

Start Stop Parish Town State Position Comment
1973 1975 St. Mary's

Fort Madison

In 2003, Shafer was accused of sexual assault on a 14- or 15-year-old boy during this assignment. Shafer denied the accusation, but an email to his victim came to light, in which Shafer admitted the abuse.
IA Pastor 1/1 into 1974. Then associate pastor 2/2, with Rev. Omer Kiefer as pastor. The school (to the left of the church in an early illustration) was run by the Sisters of Notre Dame. It had 102 pupils in 1974-75. Shafer was made a pastor as soon as he was ordained, a highly unusual preferment. He abused a 14- or 15-year-old boy during this assignment, and was sued by the victim in 2003 (see below).
1975 1976 American College

Louvain Belgium    
1976 1977 Sacred Heart

Clinton IA 2/2. Pastor was Rev. Edmund J. Weeg. School run by the Sisters of St. Francis had 164 students in 1976-77.
1977 2000 St. Ambrose College and University

Davenport IA 4/19 on priest faculty, with William J. Backrow as president. Then 5/17, 4/15. In 1980-81, Shafer became Vice President for Student Services. In Fall / Winter 1983, the St. Ambrose Scene magazine identified Shafer as chaplain, assisting Bishop O'Keefe (president of the university board of directors) as O'Keefe blessed the new gym. In 1989-90 Shafer's office became Vice President of University Ministry. In the 1993 Official Catholic Directory, with its separate section on Catholic colleges, Shafer is also identified as a faculty member. In 1977-78, there were 1,033 male and 624 female students.
2000 2003   Davenport IA Vicar General Shafer came in with Ms. Irene Prior Loftus (the new chancellor), when Bishop Franklin replaced Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Morrissey and Rev. Msgr. Leo J. Feeney. Shafer was put on leave when he was accused of abuse. Shafer asked through his lawyer that the complaint be kept confidential, and then went public himself to deny the abuse. But then on 3/19/04, it was revealed in court that Shafer had admitted the abuse in a 4/5/02 email to the victim.

Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy and Sons, 1974-2004).

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 Shafer's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with his admitted abuse of a boy at St. Mary's in Fort Madison. Shafer has written to his victim that this "was the only time in my priesthood when anything remotely like it happened." But until that email came to light, Shafer had claimed that the victim's charges were false. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and 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 10/28/04.