Wayne priest removed from ministry after sexual abuse allegations

Local News

A retired Catholic priest from Wayne, Nebraska has been removed from the ministry after allegations of sexual abuse came to light, according to the Archdiocese of Omaha. 

Reverend Donald Cleary was permanently removed from public ministry by Archbishop George Lucas after the retired priest refused to deny an allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the mid-1980s.

The archdiocese received the allegation in early October and immediately reported it to the Wayne County Attorney.

The complainant reported that the abuse occurred in Wayne. Cleary was pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wayne from 1986-1998.

Cleary, 73, had been living at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Omaha since his retirement in 2015. He was celebrating weekday and weekend Masses at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. James Parish in Omaha.

According to Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha, parishioners at St. Elizabeth Ann, St. James and St. Mary parishes were informed of the allegation at the weekend Masses, as well as parents whose children attend St. James School.

McNeil said the archdiocese has never previously received an allegation of sexual misconduct against Cleary.

Cleary was ordained in 1971 by Archbishop Daniel E. Sheehan. He served as associate pastor and pastor of a number of urban and rural parishes during his 44 years in active ministry.

McNeil emphasized that anyone who has been sexually abused by church personnel should contact law enforcement. Allegations of sexual abuse can also be reported to Mary Beth Hanus, the archdiocese’s manager of victim assistance, at 402-827-3798.

For a complete timeline of events or to read the official press release from the diocese click here

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