Former Springfield bishop has died at 83

iObserve - Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
January 04, 2017

SPRINGFIELD — In a short statement released on the evening of Jan. 2, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield announced it had been informed of the passing of former diocesan bishop Thomas L. Dupre at the age of 83.

The statement read, “(t)he Diocese of Springfield has been informed of the passing of Thomas L. Dupre, former Bishop of Springfield. He was 83 at the time of his death on December 30. He passed away outside the diocese and funeral arrangements have been scheduled to be private.”

Dupre has resided outside the diocese since his sudden resignation on Feb. 10 2004. Announced at the time as due to health reasons, it was subsequently learned he had engaged in inappropriate behavior with two young boys many years before, abuse that was about to be revealed by The Republican newspaper.

Then-district attorney William Bennett conducted an exhaustive investigation, leading to a grand jury indictment; however, no criminal proceedings were ever brought forward due to the statute of limitations. Dupre did eventually participate in a civil settlement with his two victims. 

Though the Vatican never announced the outcome of a church investigation, it was widely believed that he had been placed in a permanent restricted life of prayer and penance, never to publicly minister again. 

Until that fateful February 2004 day, Dupre was considered by many a well-regarded member of the clergy. Having risen through the ranks, serving as a pastor as well as diocesan leader and canon lawyer, he was named auxiliary bishop in 1990. Four years later he was chosen by the Vatican to lead the Springfield Diocese after the untimely death and very brief tenure of Bishop John Marshall.

Ironically, during his tenure as bishop, Dupre strengthened efforts begun by Bishop Marshall in removing priests with credible allegations from ministry. In fact, in one of his final public actions before his resignation he announced that the Vatican had agreed to the diocese’s request to laicize former Catholic priest Richard Lavigne, who had been convicted of child abuse. It was one of the first such Vatican rulings under what were newly expedited procedures.

Thomas L. Dupre was a native of South Hadley. His family relocated to Holyoke, where he attended Catholic high school. He went on to attend the seminary in Montreal and was ordained in 1959 by Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon. He went on to earn a degree in canon law in the mid 1960s.

During his active ministry he also was known for his advocacy and work towards the cause of improving Catholic/Lutheran dialogue.


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