Chapel's Namesake under Fire
Ex-Pastor Has Sex Allegation against Him

By Mandy Zatynski
Desert Sun
April 11, 2007

A Palm Springs pastor who may have a high school chapel named in his honor is one of three Coachella Valley priests the Diocese of San Diego says has been accused of sexual abuse.

The Rev. Malachy McGinn, who died in 1997 after serving at St. Theresa Church in Palm Springs since 1985, was one of 38 priests with "credible" allegations included on a list published on the diocese's Web site March 30.

Still, officials at Xavier College Preparatory High School in Palm Desert said they may stick with plans to name their soon-to-be chapel on the school's new campus, which opened at its permanent location last month.

"The placement of Monsignor McGinn's name on the Web site is the result of an allegation," said DoeDee Rover, president of the Xavier board. "At this point, it would be unfair or unjust to make any determination or alteration concerning the naming of the Xavier chapel."

Palm Springs philanthropist Dolores Hope donated $1 million for a chapel in McGinn's honor in 2005.

"We wanted a chapel for our darling Monsignor McGinn. He was a great priest at St. Theresa," Hope told The Desert Sun in April 2005.

A spokesman for Hope at Bob Hope Enterprises declined comment for this story.

St. Theresa School Principal Cheryl Corey also declined comment.

Lynn Mallotto, who knew McGinn, said the campus should keep his name.

"He was held in very high regard throughout the Coachella Valley," said Mallotto, a St. Theresa parishioner since 1984. "He was an extension of family, someone I trusted implicitly."

The Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Diocese of San Bernardino that includes Riverside County, said the diocese had not received complaints about McGinn.

He said the 109 parishes in his diocese - the 10th largest in the country with 1.2 million Catholics - will place announcements in bulletins notifying parishioners of the online list.

Officials also will make announcements at the end of Mass at each of the parishes where an accused priest once served, including St. Theresa's, this weekend, Lincoln said.

Other priests on the list who had stints in the valley include the Rev. Frank Sierra, who served as an associate pastor at Our Lady of Soledad in Coachella from 1974-75 and the Rev. John Keith, who served as an assistant at St. Louis in Cathedral City from 1965-70.

Both are dead, the diocese reported.

Each church declined comment and referred questions to Lincoln.

The list includes 38 priests from the Diocese of San Diego who have "credible" accusations of sexual abuse. Half are deceased. None is assigned to a church.

Micheal Webb, attorney for Bishop Robert Brom, said the bishop agreed to release the names. All investigations are concluded, and Webb said he does not anticipate any charges.

To view the list, log on to


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