Chances are if you live in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia you might never have heard of Fr McGoldrick. He was ordained in 2003, and had a few parish assignments before seeming to end up a young unassigned priest. In 2013, when he was approved by Archbishop Chaput for an assignment outside of the Archdiocese, there was no assignment listed that he was leaving. The above screen shot of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia clergy assignment announcements in July 2013, reflects his lack of assignment in Philly. Priests’ current assignments, that they are leaving to go on to a new assignment, are always listed in the clergy announcements. Even when priests are returning from sabbaticals or sick leave, it is listed in their new assignment announcement. For McGoldrick, just the announcement that he has taken an assignment outside of the Archdiocese.
So where did this young Philly priest end up? In the Nashville diocese, at Aquinas College and the St Cecelia Academy and Overbrook School. For those readers local to Philadelphia, it would be similar to the campus of Immaculata University and Villa Maria Academy. Why would the Archdiocese of Philadelphia “loan out” a priest to another diocese for an assignment at such a small college and academy when there is a shortage of priests in Philly? In podcasts, McGoldrick speaks of heading to Nashville and fulfilling some musical dreams. A year after leaving Philly he raises funds for his first album. He is a wannabe John Mayer in a collar. A rock and roll priest released from his home diocese. Did Archbishop Chaput honor the wishes of every priest who decided they wanted to fulfill a dream or take up a talent? Or only the priests that the Archdioceses wanted to get rid of? Pass their problem on to someone else? Maybe get an unassigned priest off of the payroll of the Clergy Office? Send him off to a small campus community 800 miles away and have no eyes on him. Just hope it works out.
It Didn’t Work Out
In July 2020, The Catholic Herald published a sad and tragic article of the report of an alleged sexual assault by McGoldrick against a college student at Aquinas College. Read here. The article is lengthy and detailed with the first hand information from the victim, “Susanna”, and reports of McGoldrick to both the Nashville and Philadelphia dioceses. Susanna first reports to the Nashville Diocese in March 2019 and then to McGoldrick’s home diocese Philadelphia in July 2019. McGoldrick had never been incardinated to the Nashville diocese, he was still the responsibility of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Susanna seems to do all the heavy lifting in the case. She writes to John Delaney, Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office of Investigations in September of 2019, to let him know that McGoldrick is playing a music festival in the Duluth diocese. This is now two months after Philadelphia knew of the alleged sexual assault. She asks how this can happen and we wish we knew Susanna at the time that she was reporting and advocating to the Philly Archdiocese. We would have explained to her that we completely lack policy as to what happens with priests while they are under investigation and a known possible threat to others. While other dioceses have actual steps and policies, in Philly they have “conversations” and basically priests who could pose a threat are anywhere and everywhere and many investigations are done in secret. So that is how a priest from Philly, under investigation for alleged sexual assault, ends up in the Duluth diocese singing Sesame Street songs on a stage. No one in the Archdiocese administration would probably bat an eye at that, it’s totally normal to them. It concerned Susanna deeply. It’s concerned us deeply for years.
Archdiocese on Lockdown
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia allowed a troubled priest to take an assignment in another diocese and now will not answer even the basic questions of providing McGoldrick’s assignment record from 2003 to 2013 when he was in Philly. Repeated emails and phone calls to Ken Gavin, Archdiocese Office of Communications, and the Clergy Office have not been successful, other than some standard regurgitated nonsense that they call an answer.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia found that McGoldrick violated the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. He is choosing voluntary laicization. No one would know this if not for the article in the Catholic Herald because there has never been one press release regarding the McGoldrick case from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Sending a priest to another diocese, an alleged assault, a secret investigation, and no announcement, is what the Archdiocese considers progress. They will tout their transparency to any uniformed ears that will listen. In other dioceses priests are placed on admin leave during investigations, a public announcement is made, and their assignment history is published
Putting the Pieces Together
We know from our C4C followers that McGoldrick was stationed at Our Lady of Mt Carmel for a few years and also was associated with the Theology of the Body Institute in Downingtown. He is described as troubled and seemed to be unassigned in Philly when he left for Nashville. The Catholic Herald does an excellent job of breaking down the story from the time in Nashville. We are interested in the prequel. How did this happen? Why was Susanna ever put in a position to encounter McGoldrick, 800 miles away from his home diocese, in a random assignment on a small Catholic campus as he pursued a musical dream. It does not add up.
If you have any information concerning McGoldrick during his time in Philly, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com. We’ll put the pieces together that the Archdiocese refuses to, we always do.
- Update we found yet another podcast that McGoldrick taped before the investigation. He claims he left Philly for Nashville because he doesn’t like the cold weather. The podcast host at one point even stops and asks how a diocesan priest ends up a chaplain in Nashville. McGoldrick claims he knew the Dominican sisters for a few years prior and they invited him to the assignment and it was God’s providence. He then goes on to sing one of his songs that sounds like an SNL parody. He describes himself as a chant Nazi in seminary. He is a self described melancholic and a square peg in a round hole. So if any Philly priest wants to move to better weather, tape podcasts while singing songs about coffee, just plead your case using the McGoldrick example. Because this all makes so much sense….
9 thoughts on “The Case of Fr. Kevin McGoldrick”
This feels like the movie with Bill Murray in it where he wakes up every day repeating the same day over and over again. I think it’s Groundhog Day, The movie. When I read this article all I could do is keep shaking my head the fact that nothing all these years nothing has changed. This archdiocese continues to protect protect protect their pedophiles and the hell with your children. I am so sorry that this young woman Suzanne went through what she did she’s brave and I have great respect for her. It’s like banging your head against A brick wall. What we need to do, is never give up hope. We do what we can do to the best of our ability. I believe with all my heart that God will deal with the rest.
Vicki I see some hope in the Catholic press. If you have a chance to read The Catholic Herald article, the attention to detail on this complicated case that spanned two dioceses, and the comfort that Susanna felt in choosing them to tell her story. The Catholic press has been the most hopeful change that I have seen in the past ten years…the dioceses not so much.
Unbelievable. They are destroying our faith, our church, and peoples lives! My heart goes out to Susanna.
I still don’t understand why people even go to – or stop at – reporting these people to a diocese. Why are police not involved from Step 1??
This is exactly why I have not given one cent to the Catholic Church in over ten years, and I can’t believe that people are so stupid or clueless to give money to this evil organization. Things will never change as long as the money continues to pour into their pockets.
Please understand that I am not condoning what happened to Susanna (though she tells only her half). Everything else aside, Fr. Kevin did not go down to Nashville to “pursue a music dream”. That had nothing at all to do with why he went down there. Nor did it have anything to do with the Philadelphia diocese trying to hide away a priest they didn’t know what to do with. He was ASKED to come down by the sisters at Aquinas Collage, who were very dear friends of his. And they only asked him because they knew the heart of this man. I know it may be hard to hear this, but I promise you that Fr. Kevin was one of the best, most “in-love-with-Jesus” priests I have ever encountered. Like so many diocesan priests in this country, he spent years laboring in the baron wasteland of dying faith know as the Catholic parish, and was asked to do so with little to no support from the diocese, and devoid of the brotherhood/comradery that should exist among fellow priests. If you are a diocesan priest in most diocese these days, essentially you graduate seminary and then are thrown to the wolves. I’ve seen too many incredible men, who truly love the Lord and desire to see his kingdom come, get so burnt out and lonely in their ever shifting assignments, that they have to leave ministry for mental health reasons. I watched Fr. Kevin fight this for years while being met with very real hostility in the Philadelphia parishes where he was assigned because he tried to make changes that would bring the parish in line with actual Catholic teaching and practice. They preferred the way they had always done things to authentic Catholicism, and so protested Fr. Kevin in the middle of Mass.
I do not want to make light of what Susanna suffered, because it never should happen to anyone. However, there is more to the story, and yes inappropriate things happened, but it was far less predatory and more mutual than how Susanna paints it. That doesn’t matter though because if you are a Catholic priest you are guilty until proven guilty. It was a heartbreaking thing to find out about no matter what the factual details were. BUT, what I don’t appreciate is people like the author of this article who fabricate assumptions on a story they only heard about, and then PUBLISH those assumptions without knowing facts. That does nobody any good. Instead Pray for our Priests…they are the devils most hated targets.
Okay, so according to your comment he was not supported by the diocese, had no brotherhood/ comradery with other priests, did not get along with parishioners, and then of course the allegations from Susanna. Well that certainly is a lot going on with one priest. You seem to describe someone with a martyr complex rather than a healthy priest. What was his assignment before leaving Philly? Oh that’s right, it seems from the local laity who contacted us, he did not have one. The assignment record that we were able to put together with help from Philly laity shows that he was at more than the usual number of assignments for his relatively short career here. Also how many priests would be allowed to leave the Philly diocese for an assignment at a very small school/college outside of the diocese?
Thanks for the comment, a good reminder that we need to write an updated blog with the info gathered since this last blog post
Also what “actual Catholic teaching and practice” would have McGoldrick finding himself in an “inappropriate” and” mutual” situation with a young woman. And this happened at an assignment where you claim he was dear friends with the sisters and they knew his heart. So it didn’t work out for McGoldrick in Philly where he was “unsupported’ and it also did not work out in Nashville at an assignment surrounded and supported by his “dear friends” Sit quietly and think of all that you have been told by him and soon you will realize that supported or “unsupported”….things don’t work out well when he’s involved.
Also the allegations were investigated by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Are you an investigator to make such assumptions about Susanna? You claim that she suffered, but basically allude that she is not truthful at the same time. What investigation did you conduct?
In Philly he was unsupported and unassigned, in Nashville he was very supported and accused of an assault.
If you are so sure about your good friend McGoldrick then why not post with your name? Seems very unfair to Susanna to have McGoldrick’s friends commenting anonymously about her. Why not stand by your comment and post with your name.
I am sorry that I disagree with your assessment of the assault of Suzanne. Suzanne says that she vomited after consuming much alcohol with Fr. Kevin. My husband mentioned that in his fraternity many guys were known for taking advantage of girls or women. He mentioned when he read Suzanne’s account of vomiting after drinking so much he said most good guys with morals would not have proceeded with what they might have had on their minds. He said his plan of proceeding after she did vomit tells him that he had more of a predatory thought and behavior. I happen to agree with my husbands thought. I think assault is definitely what happened to that young girl. I am so disappointed in the Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse of children, men and women. I think there needs to be more lay people involved. Priests are human and we need to quit acting like they are Gods. Also they are citizens in this country and should have to pay for their crimes. Wake up people!!!
Needless to say Jesus suffered and died for us and we are letting him down which is sad because we are wrecking his Church.