Lawlor: Father Joseph Lawlor

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Joseph E. Lawlor

J. Edward Lawlor

J.E. Lawlor

Priest, Archdiocese of Toronto.  Ordained 08 June 1946.  2010 lawsuit launched alleging sexual abuse of nine-year-old altar boy – abuse started around 1974.

The case was settled through mediation in late 2014


31 March 2010:  Statement of Claim (re Father J.E. Lawlor and Archdiocese of Toronto)


The following information is drawn from those copies of the Canadian Catholic Church Directory (CCCD) which I have on hand and the Statement of Claim (SC)

14 June 2003:  Died (Archdiocese of Toronto Shepherd’s Trust).

Buried in St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Orillia, Ontario) (Father Joseph Edward Lawlor St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Orillia, Ontario)

2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1998, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992:  315 Laclie, Apt. 7, Orillia, Ontario, L3V 4N9 (CCCD)

1985-85:  Lot 11, Con 13, Bass Lake, Cold Water, Ontario, L0K 1E0 Ph:  705-325-2072 (CCCD)

1980:  Pastor, St. Paul the Apostle, Alliston, with Permanent Deacons J. Duncan and G. Wilson.  (CCCD)  There was also a mission at Our Lady of Grace in Angus which seems to have been served by Fathers A. B. McRae and J.E. Boudreau.  (CCCD)

1973-74, 1971-72:  Pastor, St. Philip the Apostle, Oshawa, Ontario (CCCD)

approx. 1974:  sex abuse of nine year-old boy altar boy commenced.  The abuse transpired at Lawlor’s cottage on Bass Lake, Ontario (SC)

1973:   St. Philip the Apostle, Oshawa, Ontario  (SC)

1969Father J. E. Lawlor leaving St Patricks in Wildfield after nine years

“Rev. J. E. Lawlor, parish priest of the Wildfield-Bolton parish, is being transferred to the Parish of St. Philip, Oshawa. He had nine very active years here”

1960-1969:  Pastor, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Wildfield, Ontario. (Father J. E. Lawlor leaving St Patricks in Wildfield after nine years)

1968-69, 1967:  Pastor, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Wildfield, Ontario.  Residence RR #5 in Bolton, ON.  Mission at Holy Family in Bolton, Peel (CCCD)

1966:  Pastor when Holy Family Elementary School in Bolton, Ontario opened in 1966 ( www_holyfamilybolton_ca)

1959:  assisting at St. Anselme Roman Catholic Church.  Toronto.  Pastor Father F. Caulfield.  Also assisting was Father H. Ives  (CCCD)

1953-58:  St Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church, Oshawa, Ontario (external link)

June 1950:  Blue Banner, June 1950 Page 2 (Blue Banner is the Year Book of St. Michael’s College School Old Boy’s Association yearbook)

Father Thomas Lawlor, ’39-41, will sing his First Solemn Mass in Sacred Heart Church, Coldwater at 10 a.m. He will be assisted by Father A. Marshman, archpriest; Father Joseph Coleman, deacon; Father J. E. Lawlor, subdeacon. Father E. J. McCorkell C.S.B., will preach.

08 June 1946:  ORDAINED

1918:  Born  (Father Joseph Edward Lawlor St Michael’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Orillia, Ontario)

30 Responses to Lawlor: Father Joseph Lawlor

  1. M.McCauley says:

    What was the outcome of the lawsuit? I was a member of St. Paul’s Parish in Alliston

  2. Dan O'Reilly says:

    I stumbled on to your web site by accident. I wasn’t looking for it. I am very disturbed about the statements made in this claim, especially as I grew up and still live in Wildfield and knew Father Lawlor.

    I would respectfully suggestion that you need to publish the outcome.

  3. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Dan O’Reilly;
    I cannot answer on behalf of the website (only Sylvia can) but I answer your suggestion that “you need to publish the outcome”.
    In cases such as this (the defendant is deceased), very often there is a “gag” order attached to the settlement, prohibiting the plaintiff and anyone else associated with the action from divulging certain details of any settlement of the claim.
    Please bear in mind this is a civil case, not a criminal case so there will be no finding of criminal guilt and/or exoneration.
    I can understand your upset about the statements in the “claim”. The statements made in this claim are from the plaintiff and his/her legal representative, not from anyone on this website. Also of note is the fact that this “Statement of Claim” can be seen and perused by any member of the public.
    I don’t understand why you are “respectfully” suggesting that this site needs to publish the outcome.
    I would think if you want to know the details, contact the plaintiff’s lawyer. Mike.

  4. Chris Zeagman says:

    If this is true about him…he was a monster and destroyed childrens lives…for a long time..hope the Church has to pay a big amount in the settlement. Former member St.Patcicks Church….don’t believe in religion after this….

  5. judy munro says:

    this is very disturbing the fact is; how many others

  6. Terry Grant says:

    I was invited to Bass lake a few times in the mid 60’s and all I can say is he was
    a strange guy. He always said what happens in Bass lake always stays in Bass lake.

  7. Denis Lee says:

    Just stumbled across this site. Knew Fr. Lawlor well as a result of his time in Wildfield (St. Patrick’s). I was active as an altar boy. Each Sunday after the last Mass 3-4 of us would show up at the rectory to help count the collection and roll coins. There was always boxes of chocolates for our consumption. Always it seemed we had the place to ourselves while the good father would leave to do some work elsewhere, usually with one of the boys. It never happened with me and it wasn’t until many years later that I made the connection between the magazines of naked men we came across in the rectory and the darker side of our pastor. Lawlor was never on my favourite list. He destroyed the historic cemetery and his heavy handed closure of our very successful and popular CYO did little to endear him to me. While it is never good to speak ill of the dead I am not surprised in the least to see these allegations. There are means of finding the outcome of the suit against Fr. Lawlor and I will not hesitate in advising those who wish to know.

  8. 1yellowknife says:

    Denis: There are some of us who don’t quite believe we “stumble” across sites such as Sylvia’s. We believe we become aware for a reason. Prayer may help you understand what that reason might be.

    • Denis Lee says:

      Prayer in the formal sense is an exercise long ago abandoned. Just barely believe in some “supreme creator” but doubt if he/she has any real interest in our existence.

  9. 1yellowknife says:

    Fair enough.

  10. JP says:

    Rather stunned by this. I knew “J.E.” well but not that “well” obviously. It never occurred to me that he had a deviant side. J.E. accepted me as an altar boy at my father’s behest in 1976 and I never experienced any problems. I visited the now infamous residence on Bass Lake several times and there was never a problem. I never witnessed nor experienced a side of J.E. that would be considered out of the ordinary (although he had a penchant for smoking cigars). I saw him occasionally even into the ’90’s (even at a friend’s ordination) and he was always cordial and gracious. My parents knew him – and visited his cottage – and would be mortified to know of such allegations. I am heartbroken for the plaintiff and pray for the soul of J.E.

  11. TZed. says:

    Father Lawlor did not have a deviant side. He was one of the most amazing human beings that I have ever met. I became aware of Father Lawlor’s homosexuality in 1973 as a 12 year old. We all found his gay magazines as alter boys but he did not lay a hand on me in any disrespectful way. I knew him well for 30 years ! I am sure all the other alter boys at St. Philip’s in Oshawa would concur that he was an amazing person… except for one individual who I believe has tried to extort money. Shame on him. Big Time ! Being an alter boy with Father J.E. Lawlor and being with him at Bass Lake with friends AND alone was one of the best experiences of my life. Joseph Edward Lawlor was a great man and I will always love him !
    It is really sad if you google Father Lawlor and you get all this bullshit.

    • TZed. says:

      Oops Father Lawlor would not say bullshit. I would not use such language. 🙂

    • PJ says:

      Shame on you Tzed for being so shallow as to think the victim was trying to extort money. Not all a pervert collar’s actions are meant for every server…no, they prey on the ones they know will keep the “secret”. As the suit was settled out of court, it’s obvious that church wanted to keep the details under wraps as much as possible. Your hurtful and shallow words speak volumes for who you are.

  12. JP says:


    In the interest of disclosure, I worked at the Archdiocese for six years.

    The fact that the suit was settled out of court has nothing to do with the church keeping the details under wraps. The church may not have known there was an issue until the Plaintiff came forward – it “could” be an isolated case. I never knew JE was deviant, I never saw any gay magazines. It’s rather presumptuous to suggest the church had something to hide, just as Tzed believes the Plaintiff was trying to extort money. Sure institutions close ranks when they are under attack – I believe it’s called human nature. I think the best thing to do is pray for the Plaintiff and Defendant, we don’t know the whole story and probably never will.

  13. Shawn W. Lawlor says:

    Loved ones. My heart breaks, I am at loss for words. I am confused, my mind in turmoil as I have read this story over and over again. It has taken me a year to process this. J.E. Lawlor is (was) my father’s uncle ~ my great uncle. I quite loved him. I spent a long summer break (three weeks or so) as a 13 year old lad in 1979 with him at the Parish home at St. Paul, and at Bass Lake. My parents sent me to Alliston Ontario to “connect” with family (we live in Utah) and as a cultural experience for me. I was just a boy, I did not understand homosexuality, child molestation, abuses of power, and evil. I was just a 13 year old boy then. Good men do terrible things. I want as a direct relative of J.E. Lawlor to offer my prayers for the boys and their families, and for any who have ever been harmed by my great uncle, or any other priest/clergy. I want to offer my tears and support and pray our great Father who is in heaven and God of all creation to bless peace and some kind of healing to the victims here. I was never harmed by my uncle Ed. I was never exposed to anything inappropriate. I did not know he was gay, or see his magazines, he was noting but kind and loving/teaching to me. I have spent my life (I am now 51 years old) with fond memories of a quirky old priest who loved cigars, and his beach house he called “Camelot.” I pray for everyone affected here for healing and love. I pray for Ed’s family left behind who live in Canada, and now live with this terrible legacy of a man we love and believed in. I don’t know what has even transpired with any of them in the years since J.E. passed away. If I may, I pray Gods grace on ALL involved, such broken things we are ~ but for you boys and your families you have my truest heartfelt sorrow, and my families deepest regret. We beg your forgiveness. I am SO SORRY, I cry for the injustice and the innocents that was betrayed and taken from you. If my uncle did these terrible deeds ~ and who am I to say he did not, then he is at our Father’s judgement. I pray mercy for all here in the wisdom of the great I AM. May God bless you all I sincerely pray. Thank you for letting me say this, I hope it is not inappropriate. My name is Shawn W. Lawlor. ~Respectfully and sincerely.

  14. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Shawn – I am somewhat overcome with your feelings and sincerity. Your comments and prayers are graciously received, and I will return the prayers for you and your family!
    I cannot understand the grief you and your family feel, as I have never been in your shoes. I would ask you though to not blame yourself. The alleged actions of one member of a family does NOT paint the rest with the same brush. You are very well spoken and obviously come from a very good and ordered family.
    Thank you, and may God bless you and your entire family. Mike.

    • Shawn W. Lawlor says:

      Thank you so kindly Mr. Fitzgerald. What years I have left I will be lifting up in prayer all affected. Not just by J.E. but all, everywhere who are the victims and their families. Your response was comforting…

  15. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    I’m glad Shawn! As well, please be aware that your very own comforting response to victims of clergy sexual abuse will have a profound effect on the rest of THEIR lives as well.
    Well done, sir! I am one of them (not your uncle) and my heart is singing from your encouragement. Mike.

  16. says:

    Joseph M. Lawlor is a managing director with K2 Intelligence s Cyber Defense practice.

    • Sylvia says:

      Father Joseph E. Lawlor died in 2003.

      • Jackie says:

        I was shocked to say the least when I came upon this site. I was looking up Co-op Housing and knew that Father Lawlor was involved in this and a co-op was named after him, not too far from his church in South Oshawa. Now I know why that co-op may have changed their name. At the time I thought it was disrespectful – to remove his name…..amazing what you can find it in a simple search.

        • Maureen says:

          Jackie – I am also shocked as my parents were the happy new home owners in the second co-op that Fr. Lawlor organized. Stunned as I look at a photo with him shaking hands with the organizers of the co-op (with Msgr. Dwyer and Fr. Gignac posing along side them). There are numerous photos with him in Room 5 at St. Gregory’s Auditorium with samples and supplies for the co-ops. (There were 3 in total) Not many of that era left alive, but I will pay a visit to my former neighbours (not mentioning this but inquiring about the co-op stories.)
          Why did I stumble upon this site? The Durham Catholic District Board is writing their 50th anniversary and I received an email asking me if I knew what Fr. Lawlor’s first name was —- I saw in my parents photos that it was J.E. so naturally I googled “Rev. J.E. Lawlor”.
          FYI – Last month (Sept 2018) we went on a drive through the first 1956 subdivision in north Oshawa – there is a Fr. Lawlor Drive.

          • JP says:

            Maureen – I grew up in South Oshawa – attending Msgr. Philip Coffey in my elementary school years. I became an altar boy in 1975 and took delight when J.E. put a red rob on me. There were a lot of us who hung around the church and played ball hockey in the hall after 11:00 mass on Sunday’s. It wasn’t unusual for us to hang out at the rectory on Philip Murray Avenue. I never, ever experienced anything untoward from this man. He was gentle, kind and affirming. Although he had an annoying penchant for smoking White Owl cigars. I was sad when he left us because that meant an end to the annual parish picnic at his cottage. But I was soon elated with his replacement – Fr. Franc Skumavc – who quickly became my mentor.

  17. Steve Leacock says:

    This entire J.E. Lawlor thing is a sham. Father Lawlor had gay magazines… I agree. But he NEVER had sexual contact with his Alter Boys. I loved and respected this man dearly ! I went to his cottage at Bass Lake in 1984 for comfort. He advised me and worried about my life. I went to see him in January 1991 at his apartment. This person was as great a person that I could imagine. I was an Alter boy at St. Philip’s beginning on March 5, 1972. This person was amazing. Father Lawlor was a not a deviant. He was a person of great intellect and passion for people. Sorry but this is HUGE Fake News. SHAME on this website !! Unbelievable.

  18. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Steve – how do you know that Father Lawlor “never had sexual contact with his altar boys”? If you have personal knowledge of this, I would hope you spoke up back in 2010 when this case was being mediated.
    Further to this, I find it remarkable that nowadays Catholic priests are quite frequently identifying themselves by their personal sexual preferences.
    Have we all forgotten their vows of celibacy, and as a consequence chastity? Mike.

    • JP says:

      Mike – I have never encountered a priest who identifies with his sexual preferences. I think it is a bid disingenuous to generalize about the behaviour of priests.

      • Jean-Louis says:

        JP – Actually, I HAVE met several priests who DO identify with their sexual identity. Now, whether or not they actually ENGAGE in sexual behaviour is a different ball of wax (the whole chastity thing)…

        A more important point I would like to make is that homosexuality and child molestation are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!! Let’s not confuse sexual orientation (straight or gay) with SEXUAL INTERFERENCE WITH MINORS or RAPE, please!


  19. JP says:

    Jean-Louis – Why are you screaming at me?

    • Jean-Louis says:

      Actually, I am not screaming at you JP…. I am EMPHASIZING the words that I thought were very important to convey… If the entire message was in capital letters, then I would be screaming. Apologies for the misinterpretation. NO apologies for the content of the message.

      Take care,


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