O’Hanley: Father Peter O’Hanley

Share Button

Peter R. O’Hanley (Father Peter O’Hanley)

Priest – Diocese of Saint John, New Brunswick.  Ordained 1978.  1988 GUILTY plea. Contributor to 1993 CCCB sex abuse guidelines From Pain to Hope – identified in “Acknowledgements” as a “collaborator” and  “priest actively involved in issues relating to sexual abuse and pastoral care (Saint John, N.B.).”

August 2011 NOTE: There is no record of Father Peter O’Hanley in the Canadian Catholic Church Directories from 1998 to the present.  Has O’Hanley been laicized? or did he seek incardination out of the country?  I contacted  Msgr. Henneberry, Vicar General of the Diocese of Saint John, to find out.  Msgr. Henneberry thought O’Hanley might be in Toronto but didn’t know for certain, nor could he tell me if O’Hanley has been laicized.  He suggested I contact the Bishop.  I did so.  Twice by email.  No answer.


Bishops of St. John, New Brunswick from time of Father Peter O’Hanley’s ordination:  Arthur Joseph Gilbert  (03 April 1974 –  02 April 1986 ); Joseph Edward Troy (02 April 1986 –  24 September 1997 ); Joseph Faber MacDonald (23 October 1998 – 0 9 September 2006 ); Robert Harris (08 May 2007 – – )


Unless otherwise indicated the following information is taken from the Canadian Catholic Directory (CCCD) of the same date to which I currently have access , media (M) and personal information (P).

1998 to present:  not listed in CCCD

1996, 1997: One Bayard Drive, Saint John, New Brunswick (address for Diocesan Centre.  Phone number for receptionist for various offices, i.e., Family Life, Adult Religious Education, Pastoral Counselling Ministry to Divorced and Separated Catholic and Youth Ministries Coordinator 506-653-6800

1993, 1994, 1995 :  One Bayard Drive, Saint John, New Brunswick 506-632-9220 (address for Diocesan Centre.  Phone number for receptionist for various offices, i.e., Family Life, Adult Religious Education, Pastoral Counselling Ministry to Divorced and Separated Catholic and Youth Ministries Coordinator.)

1992: One Bayard Drive, Saint John, New Brunswick

I have been told by a reliable source that O’Hanley returned to university in or around Toronto and attained an MBA.  The tab was picked up buy the Diocese of St. John.  The word is that the diocese paid the bill in the hope that O’Hanley would become self-sufficient (P)

I have been told but have not yet confirmed that after his conviction he was out somewhere in Alberta for a short spell. Once parishioners heard of his background he was forced to leave.  (P) I don’t know when this occurred and don’t know where in Alberta.  If anyone can help with this corner of the puzzle please let me know.

June 1992Assisted in compilation of From Pain to Hope, sex abuse guidelines published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Under “Acknowledgements” O’Hanley is described as “priest actively involved in issues relating to sexual abuse and pastoral care”

1988:  GUILTY plea (at age 37).  Sentenced to 3 months in jail.  I am told that after three weeks Bishop Troy got him out and he was sent off to Southdown (P)

1983-1988:  Pastor, St. Theresa’s Church, Fredericton, New Brunswick (P)

chaplain to the Fredericton Police Department and an auxiliary member of the force (M).

1985-1986: Pastor, St. Theresa’s Church, Fredericton, New Brunswick

1980-83:  St. Pius Roman Catholic Church, St. John, New Brunswick (P)

chaplain at St. Malachy Boy’s High School, and St. Vincent Girls High School (P)

gave retreats in the diocese (P)

1978-1980: assisting at the Cathedral (P)

1978:  assisting at Assumption Roman Catholic Church (P) I have been told that the assignment was supposed to be for two years but after nine months and some sort of big fight with the rector he was re-assigned to the Cathedral.


attended St. Paul University/seminary in Ottawa, Ontario (P)


12 August 2010: I cringe at the thought


July 8, 1988 12.16 EDT

Canadian Press


A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced Friday to three months in jail after pleading guilty to three sex-related offences involving three teenage boys.

Rev. Peter O’Hanley was charged with sexual exploitation and sexual interference.

Provincial court Judge Hazen Strange dismissed a defence request for a suspended sentence, saying O’Hanley had abused a position of trust.

O’Hanley was also placed on probation for two years.


June 28, 1988 16.43 EDT

Canadian Press


A Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty here Tuesday to two charges of sexual exploitation and one of sexual interference involving young people.

Peter O’Hanley, 37, a native of Saint John, was barely audible as he answered to the charges before Provincial Court Judge Hazen Strange. It was not revealed whether the victims were male or female.

A pre-sentence report was ordered and the Roman Catholic cleric will appear for sentencing July 18.

The offences occurred between January and May of this year.

O’Hanley was released on his own recognizance pending his sentencing.

A church spokesman said O’Hanley is still a priest but has been removedfrom all of his parish responsibilities and from any active ministry.

No further church action will be taken until after he is sentenced.

O’Hanley had been chaplain to the Fredericton Police Department and an auxiliary member of the force.

178 Responses to O’Hanley: Father Peter O’Hanley

  1. PJ says:

    Don’t worry Leona, God already knows you are good and holy…unlike the pervert collar that abused you…he’s damned.

  2. Sylvia says:

    Roy, do you know for certain that he has not been laicized? I tried to find out one way or the other from the diocese two years ago: no luck! That made me quite certain that he is still a priest. Why else not confirm that he has been laicized? It seems to me that giving a straight answer becomes problematic for the bishop only if he has to divulge that this man is still a priest, floating around the country who knows where and doing who knows what and still sullying the priesthood by his presence?

    The word is that the diocese financed his return to university to get his MBA so he could be self-sufficient (vs serving as a priest and drawing a full salary), and that he is somewhere in the Toronto area.

    Roy, if you know for a fact that Peter O’Hanley is still in the priesthood (ie NOT defrocked) could you let us know please? I really would like to be able to sort out what is going here.

    Leona, I may be mistaken but doubt that O’Hanley celebrated his 50th in a Church. Has anyone heard that he did? If yes, can you please pass on the details, ie, which church and which priests were in attendance? I don’t think he has faculties to say Mass or hear confessions – usually when a priest is out working like that he has been stripped of his faculties.

    I must give the diocese a try again to see if, on the heels of all the recent New Brunswick clerical sex abuse scandals in the Bathurst Diocese and Moncton Archdiocese, the Diocese of Saint John is prepared to be more forthcoming regarding the status and whereabouts of one of it’s convicted molesters.

  3. M says:

    Peter O’Hanley is not 50 years a priest. He didn’t want to be laicized I hear, because a priest is all he ever wanted to be. So I was told by another priest I know in this diocese. He is not actively serving as a priest.

    • Sylvia says:

      You’re right M. It looks like this year would be 35 years.

      Ridiculous is it not that presumably whether a clerical molester does or does not want to remain in the priesthood should influence whether he is or is not defocked?

  4. M says:

    Sorry. Firstly. in my old age, I confused laicization and dispensation. Secondly, I’m not positive he was ever laicized- forbidden from acting in priestly capacity.

  5. M says:

    In the hierarchy of the church, the priest is the servant of all.

  6. M says:

    By the way, is Leona’s comment supposed to be on a different page ? Peter O’Hanley wasn’t her abuser and he didn’t abuse girls, as a couple of comments seem to suggest.

    • Leona says:

      My apologies to everyone for the confusion my comment may have caused. It definitely belongs on this page. Chalk my mistake up to the beautiful weather we’re having in B.C. right now, my rapidly deteriorating eyesight, and lessons I am trying to apply regarding the language I use when speaking about the priest who abused me.
      I was heading to the beach with my husband on Sunday when I read Roy’s comment and I felt compelled to respond on my iPhone. I began referencing my perpetrator Jack McCann, and then remembered a conversation I had with a wise woman. He is not MY perpetrator. He is the priest who abused me. While this may be long winded, it helps me come to terms with what happened, and puts the blame where it belongs. Unfortunately in all of that effort, I somehow omitted the entire reference. I was not speaking about O’Hanley, I do not know him at all. I do know that his story has an eery similarity about it that I am becoming more and more used to as I meet clergy abuse survivors around the world. I do know that in the hierarchy that is church he will always have a higher status than me, as will all of the priests who have committed sexual offences. That’s a difficult thought to wrap my head around.

  7. JG says:

    Anyone else you don’t agree about being anywhere in particular? Sad if you have your “pick” …does M stand for moderator?…
    You could be left by yourself…
    Leona has been a great contributor with insight, caring and very inspirational, wherever on this site. She seems to read quite thoroughly and her point of view comes across very clearly. I ALWAYS take pause to consider what she contributes.
    Your four-(yes four-4 in-line )entries sound like you are clearing your throat…
    Nobody needs to be sent away. If old age is getting in the way, think twice and write once.
    No offense intended….but maybe that won’t matter since I am not a victim in the same way you were. Maybe I should go away and talk to myself?…
    If I were you I would say: “Very sorry for my selfish slip, Leona! “….
    Because you know a lot about “priests” you shouldn’t forget about the ways of “Christ”
    you may claim for your own….


    • JG says:

      “I am sorry for my selfish slip”….I shouldn’t have been posting the last few days as I am having to deal with “issues” that have ruffled my feathers as much as my dealings with vienneau and bastarache, if that was possible. More irritable and possibly hurtful to or defending the people close to my heart…
      I am to be ignored for another week!…


    • Leona says:

      Hi JG

      I’m sorry to hear you are having a difficult time. Just to let you know that one of my big learnings from attending the S.N.A.P. conference in Dublin was about the collateral damage to my children. I’d been somewhat aware of it, but now have a much greater understanding of the ways that it has manifested itself in our relationship.
      Thanks for your supportive words, but I do understand M’s confusion and take no offence. I had noted the error, but just didn’t have the energy to go online and change it.

  8. Sylvia says:

    M, people are free to comment whether or not they were abused by a particular priest.
    As for Father O’Hanley not abusing girls, I really don’t know with certainty. I can tell you that there was courtroom of very surprised people in a Windsor courtroom when we discovered that there was one female victim amidst the 16 male victims. Is it possible such is the case with Father O’Hanley? I have learned over the years not to assume that because a number of victims are male not to exclude the possibility that one or two girls may have been molested by a particular priest, and vice versa when the victims are female.

  9. roy says:

    Sylvia you are right. Does anyone remember the young girl (presumably from Saint John) that Father O’Hanley had hired as the organist while she attended UNB? He went to great lengths to find an apartment close to the church and she was often at the rectory. He had a gold color car that she had a MV accident in.

  10. Roy says:

    Oh the irony of it all… the Diocese of Saint John undertaking a $10 million dollar campaign to repair their cathedral. I must say it takes a lot of balls to ask that this structure and property be deemed a historic landmark with the expectation that both the Government of New Brunswick and Canada will step forward with taxpayer’s dollars.

    The money may be used to pay for legitimate repairs but it still remains that a large part of this organization’s former fortunes have been spent to pay for years of cover up, paying off the victims of their abuse and hiding the perpetrators. I see the steeple protruding high into the sky as a symbolic phallus reminding me of the pain and misery suffered by so many. I am sure I do not stand alone.

    Why not have the chaps like Father Peter O’Hanley, that created this mess, give up their savings and retirement funds? Why should ordinary people that live very moral lives, work hard, support their families and pay their taxes (most of whom don’t even subscribe to the Roman Catholic religion) be expected to pay?

  11. Roy says:

    26 years and still little if no justice.

  12. TG says:

    who’s site is this? This guy is why I do not believe in the church!! I have talked about Father ‘Peter’ for years. St. Theresa’s Church still has his pictures in their church. Disgraceful!

    • Sylvia says:

      I operate the site TG. My name is Sylvia MacEachern.

      Please share any information you are comfortable sharing on Father O’Hanley. If you have sex abuse allegations against him, and fell strong enough to do so, I suggest you contact your local police.

      • Ron says:

        As a child and into my early teens I knew Peter , as all the kids know everyone else in the neighbourhood and I lived just a few houses from the O’Hanley family. Everyone thought Peter was gay ,which ,at the time allowed for negative comments but it was no big deal. It was not until I heard he had been ordained did I think of him as a child molester.
        While living in Edmundston NB in 1980, I would often swim at a local hotel pool. One day I saw Peter at the pool with a youth group ( all boys) ,he said he was taking the boys on a trip, I still have pangs of guilt thinking of the poor, unsuspecting boys he would have damaged for life and not following up on it by contacting authorities, however fruitless that would have been. Now the church has the audacity to ask for $10,000,000 to fix the steeple. They should tear it down and compensate those most unfortunate children, now adults , for the horrible deeds of Peter O’Hanley

  13. Roy says:

    I am quite certain that he is still a priest. Regardless the church just will not come clean… I would like to see someone review all the documents during the original investigation and court case through the Freedom to Information Act. As I said earlier the person in the know would be the housekeeper, whose first name a friend recently reminded me, is Marg.

    • M says:

      The house keepers might not know much. You can’t assume he’d let them be in the know. Peter had a full time house keeper and let her go. Then there was a woman who cleaned and sometimes cooked meals.

  14. M says:

    I do know for a fact there are men in a mission church Peter served in the early 80s who said things when we were all young, and as grown men now, they are away from the church and say he tried things with them. However, they won’t come forward, out of respect, false may-be, of the strong faith of their mothers and grandmothers.

  15. Maureen says:

    Peter O’Hanley showed up at St. Agnes in Edmonton when Bill White was the Pastor in the late 80’s. He baptized my daughter when she was 2 and I cringe when I see the photo of him holding her. After that we found out about Bill White being an abuser and O’Hanley being an abuser. Then they brought in Albert Laisnez to help heal the congregation. Well guess what, he was an abuser too. I would sure like to know how O’Hanley ended up in Edmonton performing the sacraments. Does anyone know?

    • M says:

      I remember O’Hanley had friends/connections to Edmonton before he ever went to Southdown. Priests usually have connections from across the country, some of them made while in seminary. I feel for you. I remember O’Hanley holding babies he had baptized and people remarking that ” he shone as if he had a halo about him.” He was like that. Part of the reason he bamboozled people so easily. Still lots of hurts and bad memories.

  16. Maureen says:

    I just read the post at the top of this page. O’Hanley must have met Bill White at Southdown. He figured no one would know that he had pled guilty to sexual abuse of children. He was right – we didn’t know, until later.

  17. Roy says:

    In the Telegraph Journal, January 9, 2015, Karissa Donkin has an article “Preventing future cases like Donnie Snook’s means we can’t forget what happened.” She writes about the crimes, the investigations and the aftermath. She recalls the case of Ken Estabrooks and Karl Toft but fails to mention Father Peter O’Hanley. Ironic because the O’Hanley case broke in the same time frame (late 1980’s) as the Toft Case.

    She closes with:
    “But in order to prevent future abuse, it may be useful to remember: the shock, the disgust, the disappointment and the will to make sure we do everything in our power to never feel that way again.”

    I realize that the O’Hanley case was handled in the most stealth way possible. In this case as in the others the victims need to be heard and society needs to be held accountable. What is missing are the opportunities for the community to remember the social travesties that allowed these crimes to happen. Please include the O’Hanley Case along with any others so that we have the complete history.

    • M says:

      There wasn’t much to the O’Hanley case. As I recall, the parents of the victims wanted them protected from the public, probably because at the time, the public was ready to crucify the victims. Everybody was sure they were falsely accusing the greatest man they had ever met. Apparently, there was knowledge in Saint John, which hadn’t made it to Fredericton yet.

  18. Roy says:

    I don’t believe it was the victims or their families. It was a church/legal system/political nightmare for many people. What agency actual did the criminal investigation? (remember O’Hanley was a member of the Fredericton and Saint John Police Departments) Just how did the NB Department of Justice and the Solicitor General manage the processes in this case? Was this plea bargained out so that a guilty plea got the charge, saved face for the justice system and avoided a larger investigation in return for a minimal sentence with the understanding that after a few weeks O’Hanley would be transferred to Southdown? How much pressure did the provincial government put on the Bishop to get rid of this problem and to minimize the government’s liabilities? (remember O’Hanley was in and out of the provincial school system as a chaplain and teacher/and the Department of Social Services in his role as a priest and there was a risk that an investigation would turn up a lot skeletons that would place a huge liability on the province)

    • Sylvia says:

      The only way we will get an idea of what happened is by people speaking out.

      Never forget for a moment that despite his sins and crimes this clerical molester was chosen to contribute his thoughts and opinions to the Canadian Bishops’ sex abuse guidelines, From Pain to Hope.

      • M says:

        The victims and the families were certainly a part of it, but I was in a place to know that, yes, all the above happened. The bishop not wanting to cause harm to the people’s faith was also a consideration. Misplaced, may-be, but at the time they really felt it was the best way to handle it. O’Hanley hoped to continue on in active ministry, but , of course, it didn’t work.
        I’m not trying to excuse them, but , for one thing there were and are, priests in the diocese with strong liasons to courts and government. The web may be more tangled than we know.
        I’m not sure who did the investigation, but I think it was RCMP.

  19. Roy says:

    Really ~ the Bishop not wanting to cause harm to the people’s faith??? You are giving the Bishop a lot more credit that I certainly would.

    I know that even today he has a lot of supporters in the Diocese of Saint John that would have him back in a New York minute.

    The only reason is the complaints that have continued to surfaced since 1988. They only go to reinforce the risks of having him in New Brunswick. This is seen in the fact that when Mr. Roy O’Hanley (who lived and worked out of Saint John the majority of his life) died in July 2014 there wasn’t even an obituary put in the local paper.

    Flying under the radar…

  20. Roy says:

    What would it take to get these events researched, written and published?

  21. Sylvia says:

    A fair bit of time, many people willing to talk, and a little bit of money.

  22. M says:

    Wouldn’t you be opening yourself up to be sued for slander ? By the way, Roy, I heard at the time it happened, exactly what you alluded to above. Plead guilty fast, avoid more investigation and publicity, then move him out to Southdown. You are right. That was the plan, and it worked well.

    • jJeff says:

      Remember you can’t be sued for exposing the truth. Threat of slander is only an intimidation tactic to silence. I think all the priests charged should be compiled and the sentences thèy get and put it on a special website and post the link on you tube facebook or other social media. That way you get more international exposure .

  23. Roy says:

    Thank you M for affirming what I have said however in reviewing your posts I question your motives and what side of the fence you are sitting on. In this case by raising the question and planting the fear of being sued for slander aren’t you supporting ‘the plan’ and assuring that I don’t come forward. I firmly believe that this history should be written although the safety and welfare of the victims is most paramount. My uncertainty is that I don’t know if there is a way this can be done so no one is ever re-victimizing. (I do not consider either o’hanley or the church to be, as morrisey and o’hanley himself claimed in their report, victims). My hope would be that ‘the plan’ never works again.

  24. M says:

    Mmmm, may-be I do appear to siton the fence, because I’m a thinker by nature. Good luck with your book, should you choose to write it. It’s not that I want to protect O’Hanley, nor people like him.

  25. M says:

    Just had a flashback memory of something from long ago. I’m surprised it popped up out of the blue after all these years. As a child, I came from a poor rather dysfunctional family, although Catholic. It was actually because of my best friend’s mother that I started going to church, as my parents had stopped attending Mass. Anyway, I remember O’Hanley, telling me one day that I didn’t have faith, and was attending church to be socially acceptable. He said it with scorn in his voice. What a comment to come out of his mouth !! My family were not bad people,so to this day, I don’t know why he said that. Actually, my faith grew and grew and I’m still a devout Catholic.

  26. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    So typical, eh? O’Hanley chastised you for going to mass, because it was a “social event” for you. My abuser was exactly the same – very conceited, judgemental, self-righteous, and looked down his nose at the poorer parishioners as if he was Nero.
    At least you were going to mass, and that says a lot about you!

    O”Hanley and his ilk really should take a long hard look in the mirror. Who is the REAL hypocrite here?
    What was O”Hanley and his ilk doing for their own personal “socialtime” and trying to hide their sad and pathetic lives from the parishioners, with the full help and support of their bishop (s)? Mike.

  27. Roy says:

    “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou.

    Thank you Sylvia for all you do to tell these stories.

  28. Roy says:

    Has O’Hanley been part of the new paper “Moving Towards Healing ~ The Canadian Experience?” which as reported in the October 7, 2016 edition of the New Freeman (page 7) as a continuation of “From Pain To Hope (1992).” “Our experience is so much broader and so much deeper,” says Bishop Douglas Crosby.

    They are forgetting their basis Catechism ~ The Act of Contrition and penance.

  29. roy says:

    Does going through a trial that brings out the evidence and facts, exposes the cover ups and validates the victims and their stories re-victimize them? Does looking the person who violated you so badly in the face and knowing that they will be forever exposed for the heinous crimes they have committed against you not in some way free you from your past?

    I believe that the victims of Father O’Hanley live every day with the hope that the day will come when they will have their day of reckoning.

    “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou.

  30. Roy says:

    29 years ago today ~ and justice is yet to be served.

  31. Sylvia says:

    You can do it Roy! Let justice be done.

  32. Roy says:

    Joseph MacNeil was Bishop of St. John, N.B from June 1969 to July 1973. MacNeil was his bishop when he headed off to St. Pauls. Even if that were not the case I would imagine that one way or the other MacNeil knew O’Hanley from his years as Bishop of St. John, N.B.
    Perhaps this might explain how O’Hanley, a convicted molester, was slipped into the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

  33. T says:


    I stumbled across this site when I was trying to recall a name of someone I attended university with. I am a graduate of the U. of Toronto Rotman School of Management – Class of 1990. I was trying to find someone from the Class of 1991 (it was a two year program back then and I knew some of the students in the year behind me) and while searching the yearbook –
    http://www-2.rotman.utoronto.ca/alumninewsletter/Yearbooks/1991YB.pdf – I decided to check out what some of the students were up to. While Peter O’Hanley wasn’t the person I was searching for, I do recall him, mainly because he is one of the few (maybe the only) priests that I have ever gone to school with. His photo is in the yearbook in the link I posted.

    I am sorry that some of the people writing comments on this site were subjected to O’Hanley’s sexual molestation. I had no idea. I hope you find peace.

    I do not know what has happened to him but if you like, I may be able to track him down through the Alumni Association. Let me know if that is helpful.

  34. Jon Armand Hicken says:

    Hi there,

    These men of God, remind me of Marlon Brando’s depiction of the Godfather, criminals, immaculately dressed, with such airs of respectability yet they are fundamentally flawed individuals, with pathological profiles. Testimony to their absence of remorse over their criminal coverup and the absence of normal fellings are their appeals to reduce indemnity payments to victims and their lobbying against the reform of the Statute of Limitations. They have the nerve to dictate to us non-catholics how we are to run our sex lifes when they are so emotionally immature themselves.The lay catholics should be held responsible by association for racketeering, enabling the abuse and harbouring these criminals. The Federals are finally doing something about these pedophile pimps.Wolves in sheperds’ clothings.

  35. Roy says:

    The anniversary of the original sentencing ~ should have been much more.

    • Phil Johnson says:

      Roy, the sentences handed out are almost all a crying shame. Our collar’s sentence was maddening but at least the 13 of us were able to tarnish him. I’ve moved on as best I can but there are still days where I fall into an abyss…hang in there!

  36. bob says:

    Any word on sylvia. Sure hope she,s okay. God Bless

    • Phil Johnson says:

      Nothing yet but I’m sure she is around…just keeping a low profile for now I hope. I think she has had some events which are keeping her from spending time here…I get that. I too hope and pray she gets back to this site in time, I really miss her posts and support.

Leave a Reply