Fr. Joseph McKenzie – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Joseph McKenzie

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Fr. Joseph McKenzie Horowitz Law
Ordained: 1951

Leaves of absence: 1953-1955, 1955-1959, 1960-1972, 1972-1977, 1983-1989

Inpatient treatment: 1972, 1972-1977, 1981

Faculties Suspended: 1981

Faculties Reinstated: 1982

Died: 1989

Assigned as follows:

  • 1951-1952 Holy Rosary (Reading, PA)
  • 1952-1953 Holy Saviour (Norristown, PA)
  • 1953 Convent of Our Lady of Angels, Chaplain
  • 1953 St. Agnes Medical Center, Chaplain
  • 1953-1954 St. Joseph’s Abbey (Spencer, MA) – leave of absence
  • 1954-1955 Padua Retreat House – leave of absence
  • 1955 St. Mary of the Assumption (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1955-1958 Padua Retreat House – leave of absence
  • 1958-159 Nativity (Warminster, PA) – leave of absence
  • 1959-1960 St. Athanasius (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1960-1971 Padua Retreat House – leave of absence
  • 1971-1972 St. John Vianney Center (inpatient treatment)
  • 1972 St. Jerome (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1972-1977 St. John Vianney Center (inpatient treatment)
  • 1977-1981 St. Patrick (Malvern, PA)
  • 1981 St. John Vianney Center (inpatient treatment)
  • 1981-1982 in residence, Goshen Manor (West Chester, PA)
  • 1982-1983 St. Francis Country House, Chaplain
  • 1982-1983 in residence, Villa St. Joseph

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Joseph McKenzie:

According to the 2005 grand jury report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received at least four sets of reports relating to sexual abuse of minors by Father Joseph McKenzie. He had a staggering five leaves of absence during his relatively short priesthood, and went for evaluations/treatment at St. John Vianney, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, three times.   

The first allegation against McKenzie, made in 1971, alleged that he sexually abused a boy while on a leave of absence at the Padua Retreat House, which was in itself an unusual assignment that may suggest McKenzie had some difficulties with parish ministry.  Priests accused of abuse are sometimes sent to retreat houses to “reflect” upon their behavior and pray for God’s assistance in controlling their behavior in the future. Of course, we cannot say this was the case with McKenzie with certainty until we have reviewed his personnel file, but this certainly is a red flag that merits further investigation.    

In September 1972, a 16 year old boy reported that he was sexually abused by McKenzie at St. Jerome in Philadelphia.  McKenzie was removed from the parish and sent to St. John Vianney Center for evaluation and treatment. He remained there for five years, at which time he was reassigned to parish ministry.  

In October 1981, a third victim came forward.  This time, a a boy of an undisclosed age alleged that he was sexually abused weeks before at St. Patrick in Malvern. McKenzie was suspended from ministry and sent back to St. John Vianney Center for additional evaluation and treatment.  Three months later, he was returned to ministry.

McKenzie’s name appeared on a secret February 1994 memo from William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Secretary for the Clergy, to James Molloy, the Vicar for Administration for the Archdiocese.  The purpose of the memo was to catalog the sexual abuse allegations kept in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Secret Archives, which are files traditionally accessible only by the archbishop and, sometimes, one of his designees.  Under Canon Law, the Archdiocese is required to maintain any potentially scandalous information in the Secret Archives. Of the summary nature Lynn wrote, “only basic information is contained in this report so as not to have too much in writing on this matter.”  McKenzie’s name appears in the section labeled “Allegations of Sexual Misconduct with Minors with No Conclusive Evidence.” No additional information was provided about the allegations, except to say they related to misconduct prior to 1989.

In 2001, a fourth victim came foward to report that he was sexually abused by McKenzie at St. Ignatius of Loyola from approximately 1966-1967.  The Archdiocese took no action except to tell the victim that McKenzie was dead and offer to pay for his counseling.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Philadelphia now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Contact us at (954) 641-2100 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com today.