Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth
October 6, 2013

The Diocese of Duluth announces that a retired diocesan priest, Father Cornelius Kelleher, has recently been credibly accused in the sexual abuse of a minor female during his time as pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Chisholm from 1975 to 1986. When the accusation was made, Father Kelleher was immediately removed from any public ministry and is no longer able to function as a priest in his retirement. He retired July 11, 2012. There are, at present, no formal criminal charges or litigation in connection with this accusation.

Father Kelleher worked in the diocese as a priest from 1956 to 2012. He served at the following parishes: St. James, Duluth; St. Joseph, Crosby; Holy Family, Eveleth; St. Mary, Cook; St. Bridget, Greaney; St. Benedict, Duluth; St. Joseph, Gnesen; St. Joseph, Lakewood; St. Joseph, Chisholm; St. Andrew, Brainerd; St. Patrick, Hinckley; and St. Joseph, Beroun.

Since 1992, the Diocese of Duluth has had in place a sexual misconduct policy that has been conscientiously enforced. Subsequently, the United States bishops issued their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in June 2002. The Diocese of Duluth is committed to helping identify sexual misconduct on the part of all those who work with children and youth, to offering help and healing to anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy, and to preventing this terrible crime from happening in the future.

“I deeply regret the long-lasting and devastating effects of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy and am completely committed to assisting its victims and preventing any recurrence of these crimes,” wrote Bishop Paul Sirba in a letter to the faithful of the diocese. “I ask you to join me in prayer for all those who have been wounded by sexual misconduct on the part of the clergy.”

A press conference with Bishop Sirba has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at the Pastoral Center.

The diocese urges anyone who has suffered such abuse to report it to the civil authorities and to the diocese at 2830 E. 4th Street, Duluth, MN 55812; at (218) 724-9111; or through one of the Diocesan Assistance Coordinators whose contact information is available in the diocesan newspaper, The Northern Cross, and on the diocesan website,


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