[Update: On November 24, 2015, files were released with information about this matter. Please view the update… Here ]
When Fr. Thomas Gillespie was yanked from the Catholic church in Saint Joseph, Minnesota on February 23, 1996, replacement priest Fr. Dan Ward and Abbot Timothy Kelly refused to provide an honest answer — the real reason — for Fr. Gillespie’s removal.
The reason provided by St. John’s:
“Assuming duties as temporary administrator of the parish in Saint Joseph, MN, is Father Daniel Ward. The former pastor, Father Thomas Gillespie, is on sabbatical to take care of some health problems.” Abbey Banner (Winter, 1996)
Some parishioners, absent the truth, were left to believe that a 1992 abuse allegation (by another parish employee), a recent suicide in the parish, or the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling might have been too much for Fr. Gillespie to handle. Poor Fr. Tom…
When the parishioners finally received an official answer, from Abbot John Klassen in 2002, many of the details were missing. The Abbot reportedly claimed that Gillespie was pulled because of an allegation of abuse that occurred in a different parish, many years earlier.
In truth, Fr. Tom Gillespie had at least four victims before arriving in St. Joseph and, during his time at the parish in St. Joseph, had at least one more. While wrestling with a 10 year old boy, Fr. Gillespie put his hands down the boy’s pants. The people of St. Joseph, not just the few who attended the meeting with the Abbot deserved then, and deserve still today, to know that truth.
Later, Abbot John Klassen delayed the announcement of Fr. Tom Gillespie’s molestation of young boys for at least two reasons. First, Fr. Gillespie had spent time with Jacob Wetterling’s family following Jacob’s disappearance in 1989. The abbey could not afford to have Jacob’s disappearance — or the suicide of a young parishioner, Christopher Klehr — linked to Fr. Gillespie’s pedophilia.