Dale Fushek Goes Freelance

Msgr. Dale Fushek was a star in the Catholic world. He was pastor of St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Mesa, vicar general of the diocese of Phoenix, and founder of LifeTeen, a popular program for teenagers used by Catholic churches around the nation.

He’s been suspended from ministry for two years because of accusations of sexual abuse, for which he has been indicted and is awaiting trial. A civil suit was settled for $100,000.

He faces one count of assault, five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of indecent exposure. He is accused of engaging in sexually related discussions with teenagers during confessions and exposing himself to teens as he got into his hot tub.

A Phoenix newspaper has the latest, which is sure to shock many of his defenders: he’s started a “Praise and Worship Center.” He says it isn’t a church, that it is meant to supplement what people get in their churches. Another former priest, Mark Dippre, is working with him. Via Rod Dreher.

The “Praise and Worship Center” webpage has this FAQ:

8. Because of Rev. Dale’s legal situation, will children under 18 be able to attend?

Rev. Dale has carefully adhered to the current requirement of the Justice Court of having no contact with individuals less than 18 years of age. The justice of the peace has allowed him to attend church and to visit other public places where children may be present.

More articles. Amy Welborn comments.

Update: The Diocese of Phoenix isn’t very concerned about Fushek’s actions.

“When he was put on administrative leave, he was told not to administer the sacraments and to not present himself as a priest,” Jim Dwyer, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, said Friday. “If he is not violating that, we wouldn’t have to know specifically what he is doing.” …

“We heard about some of the promotional materials that were done, but we didn’t know if it was ever going to take place,” Dwyer said. “We made it clear to the Catholics at St. Timothy’s that it wouldn’t be (regarded as) an official Catholic service. But other than that, we have no control on what he does as a Catholic citizen.”

So, he can preach, he can lead worship, he can organize a new ministry–just so long as he doesn’t administer the sacraments or “present himself as a priest.” Even though he is a priest. And a very visible one. A priest with a following. A celebrity. An indicted celebrity. And the diocese has already settled claims with an accuser.

Update (11/27): The current pastor of St. Timothy‘s, Jack Spaulding, says of Fushek’s move:

As his friend for over 30 years, and now as pastor of St. Tim’s, I say, with sadness, that I cannot, and do not, support him in this, and that the parish cannot and does not support him on this.

Update (11/28): Statement from the Diocese of Phoenix:

On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2007, Dale Fushek, a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix on administrative leave, conducted a praise and worship service that was in opposition to directives given to him to cease all public and sacred ministries. Mark Dippre, a priest who left public priestly ministry to enter into a civil marriage and is not a priest in good standing, also participated in the service. The service was not Catholic nor was it endorsed by the Catholic Church. We encourage the Catholic faithful to keep the Holy Mass, the ultimate form of praise and worship, as the center of their lives.

Update (8/28/2008): Fushek’s trial on sex charges will begin November 17.

Update (10/27/2009): I noticed this post still gets several hits each day, and was curious about the status of the trial. Well, they’ve been haggling for a year over whether he’d get one trial on all counts or separate trials. Judge ruled there was no “pattern” to his misconduct, and so each accusation gets treated separately. This bizarre ruling was upheld on appeal. He continues to do this thing at the Praise and Worship Center.

Update (2/18/2010): He was excommunicated in December 2008 for his actions with the Praise and Worship Center (not for sexual misconduct), and now has been laicized (removed from the priesthood) by Pope Benedict XVI (another story). His first criminal trial is set for April 30.

Update (8/11/2010): Once more I lost track of the case. In April 2010 Fushek pled guilty to a single count of misdemeanor  assault. The other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to 364 days  probation and fined $250. Fushek commented on it on his church’s webpage (scroll down to April 2010 posting).

23 thoughts on “Dale Fushek Goes Freelance

  1. I can tell you, as we are at St Tim’s weekly – that it was NEVER “made…clear to the Catholics at St. Timothy’s that it wouldn’t be (regarded as) an official Catholic service” – – They didn’t make ANYTHING clear – they didn’t say ANYTHING at all – we never even HEARD about it until we read it in the paper. And we are shocked. And a little sickened.

  2. There is something really yucky about this whole thing. “Suspended from ministry” should mean exactly that- even though this Praise and Worship thing is not sacramental, it is still a form of ministry and Fushek is clearly capitalizing on his reputation as a Catholic priest to draw a crowd. Hopefully the Diocese of Phoenix is having a “little chat” with the man, even though they are not willing to admit it publicly.

  3. I am the father of 2 boys that were molested by a Catholic priest who we knew for 25 years. He had similar characteristics as Mons. Dale Fushek. The priest, Donald McGuire, S.J. was recently discovered to be a predator for more than 40 years. Even with a trial 2 years ago, where he was found guilty of 5 counts of indecent behavior with a child, he still remains free. Parents, please don’t wait for “proof” for Mons. Fushek’s guilt before keeping your children away from him. Statistics show 98% of accused priests are guilty. Do you want to take your chances with 2% odds in your favor? Think about it! There are dozens of stories about Priest McGuire on the web. Read some of them. You’ll see how this particular pervert operates. Knowing that McGuire is the antithesis of the Priesthood, I love my Catholic faith more than ever.

    • J.R.C.

      Please SITE your source for this statement:
      “Statistics show 98% of accused priests are guilty.”

      That is SCANDALOUS.

  4. Here’s one link to an article about McGuire: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15683354

    It concludes:

    McGuire remains free pending his appeal and has been seen on many occasions with young men. He lives in a private residence in Oak Lawn, Ill. The Jesuits have not indicated that they are monitoring him in any way. McGuire remains a Jesuit priest, and the Jesuits have not indicated any intention of removing him.

    I will be posting a review of Leon Podles’ book, Sacrilege. It is horrific in its detail.

    The Diocese of Phoenix is noteworthy for its cover-ups and lies–Bishop Thomas O’Brien, who made Fushek his vicar general, was the key player in this, both as bishop and, under the prior administration of Bishop Rausch, as chancellor. Podles relates that Fr. Joseph Ladensack, diocesan vicar of Christian formation, opposed O’Brien’s transfer of a known molester, Fr. John Giandelone, to a high school, O’Brien said, “That’s my decision,” and, “as a matter of fact, Joe, I think you’re al little bit too obsessed with this gay pedophile issue. I think, Joe, you have some kind of problem. Maybe you need to go get some counseling and deal with the problem.” Ladensack had instituted screening to keep homosexuals out of the seminary–O’Brien ended it. Ladensack resigned. Ladensack told one family to call police when they found Giandelone performing oral sex on their son. O’Brien exploded, and told Ladensack he was to go to him, not the police, and was to tell the family to take it all back. When in 1986 Ladensack informed O’Brien that he had “severe problems” with O’Brien’s methods, O’Brien suspended him. Ladensack left the priesthood. O’Brien, in 2003, was involved in a hit-and-run accident–he killed a pedestrian and then drove home. Podles notes that O’Brien’s predecessor as Bishop, Bishop James Rausch, was an active homosexual even as bishop. He quotes Richard Sipe, who says Rausch had at least one sexual encounter with a minor–and “referred at least one of his own victims to these priests.” Sipe further said: “Bishop Rausch was certainly a good man, and he did many very good things. … But he was also sexually active, which sets the tone for the diocese through easy forgiveness and understanding and too great an acceptance of violations by other priests.” (Podles, Sacrilege, pp. 212-216).

    AZCentral.com summary of priest abusers in Phoenix.

    See what Diogenes reports about the Phoenix police attitude toward Fushek. And this article from the Phoenix New Times about Fushek’s history.

    Bottom line: everything about the Diocese of Phoenix stinks. And Dale Fushek was at the center of it all.

  5. Bill,
    You’re right; The Chicago Province of the Jesuits aren’t monitoring him at all. That’s finally being done with an ankle bracelet. The Jesuits, to their credit have dismissed him from the order. McGuire is fighting it though. His final dismissal is pending approval from Rome, which should be forthcoming. He will likely be laicized sometime after that (hopefully). Thanks for posting your comment. My sons are victims 5 & 10 on the NPR website.

  6. Dale Fushek is seeking to be relieved as a priest. I don’t know if this has already happened. Meaning he will no longer be a priest. (He doesn’t seem to be wearing his collar or presenting himself as a priest). The DOP can’t do anything about it except say they don’t support his shady behavior. Which has already been established.

    It truly is scandalous what he is doing. This could lead people away from the fullness of Truth and further toward the religion of Fushek. Still, what can the diocese do to a man who (if he already isn’t) will be laicized?

    Don’t get mad at the DOP…get mad at Fushek and the people who are supporting him financially, EMOTIONALLY, and physically present.

  7. I have a big problem on my hands. Despite raising my children in the DOP, I have a teenager who has not been back to mass since Msg. Dale left. She was thrilled to hear that he was speaking again and insists on going to see him. I have talked and talked to her about not going to church to for a particular priest but instead, to experience Christ through the eucharist. She insists that Msg. Dale was the only one able to reach her. HELP!
    I find myself wondering what his true motive is behind this “ministry”. Does he feel called by God to spread God’s word or does he miss being on stage and being revered himself???

  8. kk,
    I grew up in St. Tim’s community my entire life. As a matter of fact, my two younger (now adult) sisters are no longer practicing Catholics mainly due to the fact that they despised F.D. and all his antics and constant pleading for financial support. I’m truly saddened by the news that he has started this ‘worship center’. I pray that your child will not stray as my sisters did and return to the Church!

    God bless!

  9. As I just read, Phx. Police Dept. had the nick name for Monsignor “Dale Evans”, that O’Brien seemed to know well, is really funny, all the gay priests in the diocese called his successor at St. Tims and his good friend Fr. Jack Spaulding , “The Virgin”… Has anyone heard this? The RCC is crumbling, as it should. Fr. Jack is a good man & should leave this hypocritical church.

  10. I think it’s important to remember the reality of the charges against Msgr. Dale – they are misdemeanor charges – none of the men or “boys” that he had “encounters” with were under the age of 18. I don’t think the man is a pedophile although he may struggle with homosexuality. I’m just sorry that certain weaknesses in his character got in the way of his true gifts – preaching and leading people to Christ.
    I converted to the Catholic faith at the age of 20 – I attended Life Teen as a teen and a protestant and it was Msgr. Dale’s message of the Eucharist that led me to the church.
    That said – I’m not blind and I’m actually baffled by these latest developments – the P & W center and the rumor that he states he has resigned. I’m withholding judgement until I have all of the facts but what I’m hearing is not good.

  11. I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Most recent thing was that the DOP was going to do something, ie get Dale to cease and desist. Potentially, he could be defrocked and excommunicated, yet he still does what he wants to do.
    I empathize with Fr. Jack. He had been friends with Dale for 30 years, best friends. He can no longer associate with said best friend because of his DISOBEDIENCE to his Bishop and the Roman Catholic Church

  12. I attended St. Tim’s for many years and I too was a part of Life Teen. When I was a teenager, Msg. Dale was a very important part of my life. If it weren’t for his interaction in my personal life, I would not be alive, nor would I be able to exist in such a peaceful manner. My parents didn’t believe in depression as a disease and he called them to urge that they help me, and he himself took me to a free parish counselor until we found one through my family’s insurance. He continued to follow up with me via Life Teen after my confirmation and beyond, and was always a very sincere and beautiful man of faith.

    Whether he is homosexual or not has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is still a human being. And, the fact that none of the charges against him were able to go through court quickly says something about the allegations and the accusers.

    Anyone who is Catholic should think seriously about passing judgment on him, and even non-Catholics would agree that it is not anyone’s place to formulate such strong and degrading opinions about something that we are not involved in.

    I think the only notable fact is that Msg. Dale is a kind, caring, compassionate man. He has and continue to bring people to their highest and most positive form of spiritual praise and worship. That is a gift and a blessing; and maybe he doesn’t belong in the Church any longer, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t in some way serving God.

    Pray for honesty and peace.

  13. I have attended St. Tim’s for 20 years, and I can say that Dale Fushek was a great speaker. I also can say that he lied to all of us. He said he loved the Lord our God. He said that the Eucharist was the body of Christ. So if he truly believed this, why did he turn his back on Jesus Christ for Satan’s throne. I loved Dale because I thought he was bringing us closer to Christ, but all he was doing was turning us away from Christ. When you can look your community in the eye and act as if you are not committing horrible crimes againest others, in Gods eye as well as Man’s eye you are evil. When the accusations came out of the one man in the Life program, we all acted like that guy was evil and we did nothing to help him. We believed Dale, and what did Dale tell us that all he did was hug the young man. This man misinterpeted the affection. O’brien settled out of court for 40,000, this man was made to feel unwanted and went back to Colorado. Then when the newer accusations came out, we still didn’t believe. I went to mass crying and praying for him and anyone who could accuse Dale, boy was I a fool. I even sent money to help with his finances, because there was no way Dale could have done any of this. We all had a special meeting in the church, with a representitive from Bishop Olmsted. We were angry, this was a lie, Dale is to good to do this, to close to God. But it all changed for me in Nov. of 2007 when Dale decided he was better than God. He could not be silent, He had to be heard, but not about his inocents but only about himself, not about fighting these lies, but about leaving the Church and Christ he claimed to love more than LIFE!!!!!!! We all fell for it we all put him on this pedistool, and he did not want to come down. Christ himself never was on a pedistool and he is the Son of God!!!!!!! I will never believe anything that comes out of Dale’s mouth. I still go to St. Tim’s I still practice my faith, and as Fr. Jack say’s we go to Mass to be in the presents of Christ and that is the only reason

  14. How very sad that we are unable to recall that Fr. Dale was oftentimes a very good priest. Do I agree with his behavior? No. Did he always agree with mine? No. And he, at times, told me so during confession. Whether I agree with his behavior or not, I have to admit that his comments, blessings and direction changed the course of my life for the better. This situation, for both Fr. Dale and Fr. Mark, is very sad. On one hand, we’re taught to show compassion and support for our friends, but when Fr. Mark did so, the diocese excommunicated him as well. Sad. Someone once said, “we shouldn’t refuse to attend a wonderful feast because we don’t care for the butler.” Uh….something to that effect anyways. It was Fr. Dale. I hope that we will all be able to return to the best of all feasts, the eucharist, and put this sadness behind us while holding the good meories of Fr. Dale and Fr. Mark dear.

  15. I am personally shocked that all of this has happened. I can’t beleive a Catholic Church would state that people refrain from any type of Praise and Worship. It is in our faith in Jesus Christ to relate to him in any way we feel it works and if Praise and Worship is the answer then by all means the Phoenix Diocese should not state we should refrain. It apepars to me from being a past memeber of St Tims that the diocese is just upset that thier money maker (Monsignor Fushek) is no longer there. Look at the statistics…..years ago when Fusek was there we had hundreds of teens at mass now it is down to hundreds…even the amount of people attending mass has changed tremendously…..there is nothing wrong with what Fushek is doing…unless bringing people to christ is a now considered a catholic crime….get real….those that continue to see this as a wrong doing will just have to pay the price for that later when they have to meet the one who will judge them…….Dale Fushek if you read this…continue on….I am only sad that I moved away and can not be a part of it.

  16. Innocent until proven Guilty. Dale and Mark are both wonderful human beings …they are also Gods CHILDREN, as Catholics… we should treat others with compassion and respect… I found it sad to read such hurtful and mean spirited words on this forum- please think about your words.

    • You are in serious denial. He has been removed from ministry because of his actions. He was ordered to obey. He refused. Your blind defense is just testimony to the fact that Life Teen was largely a personality cult; one more acting out of priestly narcissism.

  17. Is the Father Joe Ladensack the same as the Joe Ladensack who served with the First Infantry Division in Viet Nam?

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