GALLUP, N.M. - A Catholic priest in rural Arizona has been removed from ministry because of two recently reported and credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors that allegedly took place in North Dakota decades ago.
The alleged abuse by the Rev. Timothy Conlon, a member of the Crosier Fathers and Brothers religious order, was reported by the Diocese of Fargo. The Diocese of Gallup removed Conlon from his two Arizona parishes over the weekend.
"The alleged abuse took place approximately 40 years ago in North Dakota before Fr. Conlon was ordained a priest, but has just been reported to Church authorities and the Crosiers," media official Lisa Cassidy stated in a news release issued by the Crosier Province of Phoenix Monday. "The Crosiers have not been aware of any other claims of sexual misconduct against a minor by Fr. Conlon previous to this report."
According to a letter Gallup Bishop James S. Wall sent to his priests Monday, reports of the two credible accusations of sexual abuse came from the Diocese of Fargo.
In the response to questions from The Forum, the Rev. Luke Meyer, chancellor of the Fargo Diocese, released a statement that read in part:
"The Diocese of Fargo has a policy and process to encourage reporting of child abuse. This process was followed in the case of Fr. Timothy Conlon, a member of the Crosier religious community. We are grateful to have been able to assist those reporting the abuse, and we continue to encourage others to seek assistance and report abuse wherever it may occur," Meyer wrote.
"Fr. Conlon is not a priest of the diocese of Fargo, has never been a priest of the Fargo Diocese, and he has not had an assignment within the Diocese of Fargo," the statement said.
Crosier Prior Provincial Thomas Enneking, O.S.C., and Wall removed Conlon from ministry. The Crosier news release stated law enforcement has been informed of the allegation, but it did not name the specific law enforcement agency.
Conlon has been working in the Gallup Diocese since November 2011, according to Wall's letter. Conlon has served as the parish administrator at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in St. Johns and San Rafael Parish in Concho. The Crosier news release said Conlon was in the process of becoming an official Diocese of Gallup priest through incardination into the diocese.
Conlon was a crime victim himself on April 15, 2010, while he served as the pastor of the Sacred Heart Parish in South Phoenix for the Phoenix Diocese. When one of Conlon's parish employees was stabbed multiple times by an assailant off the street, Conlon came to her assistance and was also stabbed repeatedly. Both Conlon and his parish employee were hospitalized for their injuries. Their assailant, Carlos Miguel Manriquez, was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault.
According to Catholic media reports at the time of the attack, Conlon joined the Crosiers about 40 years ago and was ordained a priest in 1979. He has worked in ministries in Nebraska, New York and Arizona. Conlon was the vicar for Hispanic ministry for the Phoenix Diocese and was the national director of the fundraising Crosier Campaign.