Fr. Thomas Wisniewski – Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Father Thomas J. Wisniewski

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Ordained:  1974

Absent on Sick Leave: 1992-1993

Placed on administrative leave: 2002

Assigned as follows:

  • 1974-1978 St. Monica (Berwyn, PA)
  • 1978-1982 St. Clement (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1982-1987 Nativity BVM (Media, PA)
  • 1987-1991 St. Bernadette (Drexel Hill, PA)
  • 1991-1992 St. Pius X (Broomall, PA)
  • 1992-1993 Absent on Sick Leave (Villa St. John Vianney Center)
  • 1993-1995 Office of the Metropolitan Tribunal
  • 1995-2002 Chaplain, Immaculate Mary Home (Philadelphia, PA)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Thomas Wisniewski:

In July 1992, Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua received information that Father Thomas Wisniewski abused a 15 year old boy from 1984 to 1987 at Nativity BVM parish in Media.  According to notes, they engaged in “everything sexually two man can do.” The priest also brought the child to New York, the Jersey Shore, and Canada.

Wisniewski admitted to the allegations when confronted soon thereafter.

Consistent with what the Philadelphia grand jury said was “Cardinal Bevilacqua’s policies and practices in dealing with priests accused of sexual crimes,” Wisniewski was removed from ministry and sent to Villa St. John Vianney, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  The purpose of “acting quickly,” as the Cardinal directed, was “to minimize legal ramifications” to the Archdiocese. Nothing about his policies and practices involved reporting the danger to law enforcement. He specifically forbade the Priest Personnel Board – responsible for advising him on a priest’s fitness for ministry – from knowing about allegations.  He even limited the impact a therapist’s recommendations would have on his decisions to reassign priests after inpatient treatment for sexually abusing kids.

Based upon these factors, Bevilacqua’s subordinates had little choice but to recommend Wisniewski’s return to ministry despite his admission that he abused a child.  The recommendations of the therapist that Wisniewski have constant and ongoing supervision were also discarded at Bevilacqua’s decree.

Only after a very public scandal befell the Archdiocese of Boston following the Boston Globe’s Spotlight exposes of the countless protections afforded pedophile priests did Bevilacqua finally decide that Wisniewski should stop public ministry – and then only to protect the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  As noted by the grand jury “Archdiocese managers put the avoidance of scandal and lawsuits ahead of their duty to protect the public and to end a sexual offender’s misuse of his priestly status.” Despite his “removal” as a priest in 2002, Bevilacqua was aware that Wisniewski continued to celebrate mass with the Knights of Columbus as its chaplain.  The Secretary for Clergy was directed “not to create a scene and to let Tom have the mass if he insisted.”

Wisniewski was subpoenaed to appear in front of the grand jury and was given a chance to answer questions about the allegations made against him over his career.  He opted not to cooperate with the grand jury.

Wisniewski is still alive and believed to be residing in the Springfield, Pennsylvania, area.  He is 70 years old.

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.