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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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….