Area Pastor Ousted
Coal City Priest: Bishop Removes Minister Accused of Sexual Misconduct

By Joe Hosey
The Herald News
May 19, 2002

The Diocese of Joliet pulled the pastor of Coal City's Assumption church amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Donald O'Connor was removed from the Church of the Assumption, Bishop Joseph Imesch announced Saturday in a letter to parishioners. He is now residing at an undisclosed location.

"The abuse took place more than 30 years ago when Father O'Connor was an associate pastor at Assumption," Imesch said in his letter. "The victim was prompted to report the abuse after reading a letter from me encouraging victims to come forward. The report was made May 14 and Father O'Connor has been removed from ministry as of today."

O'Connor, 65, is the 11th priest with ties to the Diocese of Joliet to have been suspended or to have resigned.

Diocese officials last month turned over documents containing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests to the Will County State's attorney's office in compliance with a judge's ruling.

A motion to allow public access to the documents is pending before Circuit Judge Herman Haase. Haase is expected to issue a ruling on the matter June 6.

Church of the Assumption parishioners were informed of O'Connor's removal at 5 p.m. Saturday Mass. The bishop's letter was to be read at all of today's Masses as well.

In the wake of the disturbing revelation, Imesch planned to be available to Assumption parishioners, said Sister Judith Davies, chancellor of the Joliet Diocese.

O'Connor, ordained in May 1964, took over as pastor of Assumption in June 1999. He previously served as pastor of St. Bernard's parish in Joliet and Immaculate Conception in Braidwood. The allegation made public Saturday of a matter occurring 30 years ago is the first and only made against the priest.

O'Connor's alleged victim was an adolescent at the time of the incident, Davies said.

A team of counselors from Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center was to visit Assumption parish Tuesday. Davies and the bishop were to be on hand as well.

In his letter, Imesch urged parishioners to pray for all involved.

"I ask you to pray for the victim, for Father O'Connor, and for the entire parish community," he said. "Our whole church is sadly affected by this tragic situation."

Contact Joe Hosey at (815) 729-6054 or via e-mail at


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