Whalen: Father Lorne Whalen

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Father Lorne Peter Whalen (1956-2004)

Click here to access documents related to Father Lorne Whalen’s years as a priest with the Diocese of Pembroke Ontario, time served as a military chaplain, withdrawal of faculties by both the military vicariate and Archdiocese of Toronto 

THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION  The information entered at this time covers Whalen’s years pre-ordination and his first few months as a military chaplain


10 October:   Lorne Peter Francis born  Bell Island, Newfoundland

– assistant parish priest when he was in Grade 1 was Father John Corrigan (convicted clerical molester)

– one of 14 children


– sexually abused as a child by an older male

– graduated Grade 11 from Queen Elizabeth High Scool,  Foxtrap, Newfoundland

– started Honours Psychology at Memorial U, St. John’s, Newfoundland

– held jobs as census taker and in the Arcade at St. John’s

– said he applied for the military but was turned down because he had stomach ulcers


– worked as a youth counsellor at RC youth camp, Labrador City.  Said this was the summer he decided to become a priest and apply for seminary formation.  Vocations director for the Diocese of St. John’s at the time was Father James Hickey (convicted clerical molester) (said he “didn’t recall” if either Corrigan or Hickey ever approached him for sexual favours)

– commenced studies at U of Western Ontario – priestly formation at St. Peter’s seminary, London, Ontario.  (Said he had been accepted at Allhallows in Dublin but then his spiritual director recommended he stay in Canada.  According to Whalen, his Bishop [Skinner, St. John’s NFLD] applied to St. Peter’s, London Ontario and he was accepted there.

– while at St. Peter’s Seminary Whalen was observed both “zeroing in” on and spending an inoridinate time with new seminarians and drinking heavily


– did a one year internship in a parish Newfoundland.  The parish priest was a Fr. Cummings (The only Cummings I can find in Newfoundland is the one in the Diocese of Grand Falls.  Was Whalen by this time planning to become a priest in the Diocese of Grand Falls, Newfoundland?   If yes, he would have required consent of the Bishop of Grand Falls who at that time was Alphonsus Penney.  Penny became Archbishop of St. John’s NFLD. )


– at some point between 1976 and 1982 was sent to House of Affirmation in the U.S. for what he described as a  “bad drinking problem”

– after his one year of internship in Newfoundland Whalen  requested an LOA from parish work.  According to Whalen he had a “phobic reaction to parts of the Mass.”


January – April:  four months practical, location unknown

July:  started a five month stay at Southdown (Ontario).  Again he talked of “phobia” to parts of the Mass, and “phobic reaction” to drinking from the chalice.  However he also said that it was during his time as Soutdown that a doctor recommend cruise lines as a way to meet people.


 held a number of jobs prior to ordination.  Dates are unknown.   Most of these would seem to have been during the LOA years and after his time in Southdwon

 – unknown date:  substitute teacher, James R. Timmins School, Shefferville, PQ

unknown date: substitute teacher Holy Heart of Mary all girls school, St. John’s, Newfoundland

unknown date substitute teacher St. Edward’s school, Kelligrews, Newfoundland

–  unknown date: after a spell of substitute teaching, worked in a greenhouse somewhere in Newfoundland

unknown date:  after working at the greenhouse worked as a psychiatric assistant at the Health Sciences Centre, St. John’s, Newfoundland

– At some point during these years, and for an unknown time, on invitation of Fr. Dan Hawkins [msf – Missionaries of the Holy Family] Whalen moved to North Gore, Ontario (outskirts of Ottawa) to see if life as a priest with the Missionaries of the Holy Family was for him.  It is unknown how long he stayed with the missionaries, but he apparently decided against it


February:  moved to Pembroke, Ontario.  By this time Bishop Windle Diocese of Pembroke) must have agreed or offered to take Whalen into the Diocese of Pembroke to serve as a priest following ordination (meaning he would be incardinated in the Diocese of Pembroke).  Why Whalen was no longer pursuing ordination for a diocese in Newfoundland is unknown.

(I think possibly Whalen spent some of these months prior to ordination teaching at St. James School in Eganville


07  MAY 1988:  ORDAINED

– Said his desire was to be a pastor in a parish

– according to one source staff at St. Peter’s Seminary were opposed to his ordination right up to and including his day of ordination.  Bishop Joseph Windle carried on.

June:   assigned to duties in Eganville , Ontario


–   Taught at St. James School, Eganville, Ontario


September:  after two short years in Eganville was transferred to Pembroke Cathedral to serve as an Assistant.  According to Whalen,  the transfer transpired because “the bishop can move you around as he sees fit”  and there was a requirement or necessity for someone to go into the Cathedral.  (At another time said the bishop had promised him while he was in Eganville that he could go back to university full time to get a B.Ed  – the bishop had staffing problems at the Cathedral and Whalen would therefore serve one year at the Cathedral and then pursue his studies.)


August:  stated that he requested a move from the Cathedral – he felt his talents weren’t being used properly.  It seems also that  there may have been some sort of conflict between Whalen and the organist at the Cathedral.

–  while he was at the Cathedral Father Whalen helped out at nearby CFB Petawawa.  He alleged that one of the commanding officers wrote a glowing report about him so  he decided he would perhaps join the chaplaincy corps.    Whalen allegedly suggested to Bishop Windle that he either allow him to pursue his studies as previously agreed, or let him join the military.  Windle allegedly told him to join the military because the military was in need of priests.

Fall:  joined the military


  January:  to Chilliwack, BC for Basic Training

Spring:  – On Holy Saturday arrived in Gagetown, New Brunswick  for his service there.  That night, after the Easter Vigil, as he was hugging a woman he reached down and pinched her bottom.  He was hazy as to whether he did so with one or both hands.  He  referred to the act as “a friendly gesture.”

 Possibly June:   referring to the bottom-pinching episode the pastor at Gagetown asked Whalen if he had any concerns about acting inappropriately

August:  Assigned to military base CFB  Cold Lake, Alberta as an associate pastor

October:  said he sought help through the military to deal with past sexual abuse.  Said he was counselling victims of sexual abuse and it all came back to him.  He requested help similar to that given other chaplains with “sexual identity problems”  who were sent away for six months treatment at a residential centre in Texas.  Said that L/Col Gerard promised him that. (The program allegedly cost $75,000 at that time)


07 February 2004:  Died – cause of death unknown.

14 February 2004:  Funeral service in Newfoundland conducted by Father William Pomroy

5 Responses to Whalen: Father Lorne Whalen

  1. Peter Kelly says:

    I only heard od Lorne’s death yesterday.

    I met him in the early 90’s when I was a seminarian in Montreal. He was passionate about life although I sensed he was troubled. I will pray for him.

    How did he die? He was so young.

    May God bless and hold him in His arms!!!!!

    • Sylvia says:

      The cause of death was never to my knowledge made public Peter. I tried without success to find out . Yes, he was young. He was an extremely troubled soul.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am a relative of Lorne. We, his family, still have no answers on his cause of death. The news was given very abruptly to my elderly Grandmother and left her in shock for a very long time. From my understanding, my family tried numerous times to obtain an autopsy report with no luck.

  2. Sylvia says:

    My sympathies Anonymous. I often think how very difficult it must be for the family of priests such as Father Lorne Whalen. That is yet another special kind of pain and suffering.

    Has your family tried contacting someone in the Pembroke Diocese to get information regarding Father Whalen’s death?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes indeed we have. Whalen’s death continues to be a mystery for all of his family, even though they have a report that states it was cardiac related. The interaction with his so-called friends, from Pembroke, Gatineau, Hull and other areas, has led them to believe that there were other circumstances leading up to his death. To date, it is not certain if Revenue Canada has closed the file…due to death, because we have had no information from Lorne’s executor, who ceased all communication with the family years ago.

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