O’Donnell: Father John O’Donnell

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John A. O’Donnell

Priest, Archdiocese of Toronto.  Ordained 01 June 1958.  Lawsuit launched 2010 alleging sex abuse of young boy in 1974.  (This boy was also molested by Father Joseph Murphy).  Spent several years as Pastor at St. Thomas More in Scarborough with convicted molester Father Angus McRae assisting in the parish.  McRae, quietly recycled from the Archdiocese of Edmonton, molested two boys from St. Thomas More. McRae was caught in 1989 and convicted.  It was around this time that Father O’Donnell left St. Thomas More – he does not seem to have been assigned to parish after that.  He was about 59-years-old – very young to retire?

12 September 2016:  lawsuit settled out of court


TRIAL date for above civil action has been set for 11 October 2016


Archbishop of Toronto from time of Father John O’Donnell’s ordination: James Charles McGuigan  (22 December 1934 – 30 March 1971); Philip Francis Pocock  (30 March 1971 – 29 April 1978); Gerald Emmett Carter  (29 April 1978 – 17 March 1990) ; Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic  (17 March 1990 – – 16 December 2006 ) ; Thomas Christopher Collins (16 December 2006 – – )

Auxiliary Bishops of Toronto from time of Father John O’Donnell’s ordination:    Francis Valentine Allen  (02 Jul 1954 – 07 October 1977) ; Francis Anthony Marrocco  (01 Dec 1955 – 10 June 1968);  Thomas Benjamin Fulton (28 December 1968-August 1978;) Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic (26 March 1976 – Coadjutor Archbishop: 22 May 1986); Michael Pearse Lacey (03 May 1979 – 31 May 1993); Robert Bell Clune  (03 May 1979 to 27 December 1995); Leonard James Wall  (03 May 1979 — 25 February 1992); John Stephen Knight (27 Apr 1992 – 9 Apr 2000); Anthony Giroux Meagher  (30 April 1997 – 27 Apr il2002) Nicola de Angelis, C.F.I.C. (Auxiliary Bishop: 27 April 1992 to 28 December 2002);: Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J. ( 22 February 1995  – 30 June 1998);  Richard John Grecco (27 April 2002 – 11 July 2009) Peter Joseph Hundt ( 11 February 2006 – 01 March 2011); Wayne Joseph Kirkpatrick (18 May 2012 – )


The following information is drawn from the copies of the Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, the 1980 Ontario Catholic Directory (OCD80), and the Amended Statement of Claim (SOC)

16 January 2004:  Died (Father John ODonnell deceased 2004 Archdiocese of Toronto website)

2002:  Not listed in CCCD

2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994,1993, 1992, 1991:  Apartment 316, on 67 Curzon St., Toronto (CCCD)

There is no indication that Father O’Donnell served anywhere after his 1989 departure from St. Thomas More (the same year Father Angus McRae was caught again)

June 1980-1989:  Pastor St. Thomas More, Scarborough, Ontario (P)

1985-86:   Pastor St. Thomas More, Scarborough, Ontario (The listing in the index is for a Father John A MacDonald ordained in 1959.  I am quite certain that this is a typo as I can find no John A. O’Donnells ordained in 1959.  ) (CCCD)

– In charge of Catholic Scouting for the Archdiocese of Toronto (CCCD)

–  assisting him at St. Thomas More was Father Angus McRae.  McRae , a former military chaplain and priest of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta, was recycled into the Archdiocese of Toronto and St. Thomas More after serving 10 months of a four year military sentence for the sex abuse of three boys age 10-15. Prior to his arrival in Toronto and after his brief spell in jail McRae had spent an unknown period of time at Southdown.  According to a blogger on this site, while at St. Thomas More McRae was placed in charge of altar servers.   http://www.theinquiry.ca/wordpress/charged/mcrae-father-angus-mcrae/comment-page-1/#comment-145100

Father McRae was there from around 1983-1989.  In 1989 McRae was charged with sex abuse of two boys in Toronto – he was put on probation.  Father O’Donnell seems to have left St. Thomas around the same time McCrae was caught.  There is no indication that Father O’Donnell, then around 59-years-of-age,  served at any parish after his departure from St. Thomas.

1976-1980: St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church, Bramlea, Ontario (P)

1980:  St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church, Bramlea, Ontario (with Fathers C.J. Tipping and G. Lehigh) (OCD80)

June 1973 – 1976:  St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, Toronto, Ontario (P)

1974: sex abuse  of young boy began(SOC)

1973-74:  St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church, Toronto, Ontario (Pastor, Father F. Perna) (CCCD)

1971-72:  assistant, St. James Roman Catholic Church, Toronto (Pastor, Father P. A. Rosettis) (CCCD)

1970 ?:  St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church, Toronto, Ontario (P)

1969:  assistant, St. James Roman Catholic Church, Toronto (CCCD)

1967, 1968-69:  assistant, St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church, Toronto, Ontario (Pastor, Father J. Nealon) (CCCD)

1967:  assistant, St. Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic  Church, Richmond Hill, Ontario. (Pastor Father F.C. Robinson)  (CCCD)

1964: assistant, St. Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic  Church, Richmond Hill, Ontario (P)  Spent a spell as Administrator of the parish (P)

also in 1964 assisting at St. Dunstan Roman Catholic Church, Richmond Hill, Ontario (P)

– Served as chaplain for Boy Scouts, Cubs and Girl Guides for many years starting some time in the early 60s (P)

1962: St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church, Scarborough, Ontario (P)

1959:  Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Toronto, Ontario (with Father D.V. Hickey and L. Leah) (CCCD)

1958:  assistant at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Collingwood (P)

01 June 1958:  ORDAINED (CCCD)

26 Oct 1930:  DOB,  in Toronto, Ontario

3 Responses to O’Donnell: Father John O’Donnell

  1. Leona says:

    Your courage is to be commended in bringing forth this lawsuit. It’s not an easy task to acknowledge the harm done to those of us victimized by clergy sexual abuse.
    I’m just wondering if there any publicity in the media regarding these suits? We have only been able to get the church to wake up and pay attention to the need for vigilance around child safety when victims are willing to step forward and speak out of the harm done to them. We no longer have to prove that that the church has done everything in its power to minimize the harm done to victims, and to protect its reputation at the expense of young children.

  2. Mark says:

    I am also a survivor of sexual abuse while I was an alter server and custodian at St Anne Church. The abuse started the summer Father O’Donnell arrived at St Anne and continued shortly after he was transferred to Bramalee. Though I had a horrible time recovering from addiction and PTSD I finally have my life back and no longer have the guit and shame I lived with. Ken you are so brave for going forward. Your statement of claim sound exactly the same as my story. He used confession and god to keep me quiet. Over the years I believed through his manipulation that I was at fault. Stay strong Ken your a survivor and your voice needs to be heard.

  3. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    I understand that O’Donnell’s legacy continues. More to come in the near future.
    I really hope that the Toronto hierarchy is really proud of this creature. He destroyed at least two lives that I know about now. I hope there aren’t any more, but I stopped believing in Santa Claus years ago.
    O’Donnell and McRae were a perfect pair, something I am sure that the Archdiocese of Toronto is incredibly proud of. Mike.

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