The Diocese of New Ulm’s list of 16 men credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor while assigned as priests

As published in The Prairie Catholic – April, 2016

Names and brief biographical information of those credibly accused

This information is the result of careful review of clergy assignment information. If you believe there is an error or omission in this information, please contact 507-233-5313.

Of the 16 men whose names are disclosed, 13 are deceased. The three surviving men have been removed from ministry.

Four of the 16 men, J. Vincent Fitzgerald, Joseph (Louis) Heitzer, Rudolph Henrich, and Harry Majerus, do not have credible accusations against them stemming from incidents reported to have occurred in the Diocese of New Ulm. However, these four men have been credibly accused of abuse in other dioceses and all four men worked at some point in what is now the Diocese of New Ulm.

Cletus Altermatt
Born in 1907 in Comfrey, Fr. Altermatt was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Great Falls, Montana in 1934.
He returned to Minnesota in 1962 and was incardinated into the Diocese of New Ulm in 1968.
Fr. Altermatt’s assignments in the Diocese of New Ulm:

  • Associate, Ss. Peter and Paul, Ivanhoe, 1962-1964
  • Administrator, Ss. Peter and Paul, Ivanhoe, 1964-1968
  • Pastor, Our Lady of Victory, Lucan, 1968-1978

Fr. Altermatt died in 1978 at the age of 70.

Dennis Becker
Born in 1935 in Lynd, Minnesota, Fr. Becker was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of New Ulm in 1962.
Fr. Becker’s assignments in the Diocese of New Ulm included the following:

  • Administrator, St. James, Nassau, 1962
  • Associate, Holy Rosary, North Mankato, 1962-1963
  • Associate, Holy Trinity, Winsted, 1963-1966
  • Pastor, St. Mary, Cottonwood, 1966-1977 (assigned to weekend Mass at the Campus Religious Center
    at Southwest State University, Marshall, starting in 1976)
  • Administrator, St. Isidore, Clarkfield, 1969-1977 (while continuing as pastor at St. Mary in Cottonwood)
  • Pastor, St. Bridget, DeGraff, 1977
  • Co-Pastor, St. Francis, Benson; St. Bridget, DeGraff; and Our Lady of the Visitation, Danvers, 1978-1987
  • Co-pastor, St. Anastasia, Hutchinson, 1987-1998
  • Pastor, St. Patrick, Kandiyohi and St. Thomas More, Lake Lillian, 1998-2000.

Fr. Becker retired from assigned ministry in the Diocese of New Ulm in 2000.
The diocese removed him from ministry in 2015.

Gordon Buckley
Born in 1924 in Minneota, Fr. Buckley was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Pueblo, Colorado in 1953.
In 1959, he was incardinated into the Diocese of New Ulm. Fr. Buckley’s assignments in the Diocese of New Ulm:

  • Ss. Peter and Paul, Glencoe, 1959-1960
  • St. Mary, Seaforth, 1960
  • Associate, St. Mary, Bird Island, 1960
  • Administrator, Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Taunton, 1960
  • Pastor, St. Mary, Cottonwood, 1960-1961
  • Administrator, St. Isidore, Clarkfield, 1961-1963
  • Pastor, St. Andrew, Granite Falls and St. James, Dawson, 1963-1969
  • Pastor, St. Michael, Milroy, 1969-1978

Fr. Buckley retired from assigned ministry in 1978 and died in 1985 at the age of 60.

Robert Clark
Born in 1958 in Sleepy Eye, Fr. Clark was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of New Ulm in 1984.
Fr. Clark’s assignment history:

  • Associate, Holy Redeemer, Marshall, 1984
  • Associate, Holy Trinity, Winsted, 1984-1989
  • Associate, Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New Ulm, 1989-1990
  • Pastor, St. Anthony, Watkins, 1990-1993 (also assigned as Sacramental Minister to Our Lady, Manannah, 1992-1993)
  • Parochial Administrator, Our Lady, Manannah, 1993-1996
  • Pastor, St. Patrick, Kandiyohi, 1996-1997
  • Pastor, St. Thomas More, Lake Lillian, 1996-1997
  • Administrative leave, 1997
  • Religion Teacher, Saint Agnes High School, St. Paul, 1998-2002

In 2002, Fr. Clark was returned to the Diocese of New Ulm. The diocese removed him from ministry in 2002.

J. Vincent Fitzgerald, OMI
Born in 1919 in Troy Grove, Illinois, Fr. Fitzgerald was a priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate religious order ordained in Illinois in 1950.

In 1977-1978, Fr. Fitzgerald, then a priest assigned in the Diocese of Duluth, participated in a Clinical Pastoral Education program at Willmar State Hospital. While participating in the program, he engaged in temporary work at St. Thomas More parish in Lake Lillian.
Fr. Fitzgerald was never incardinated into the Diocese of New Ulm.

Fr. Fitzgerald left the Diocese of New Ulm in 1978 and died in 2009.

John Gleason
Born in 1921 in St. Paul, Fr. Gleason was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Paul in 1946. Fr. Gleason was incardinated into the Diocese of New Ulm when the diocese was formed in 1957. His assignment history is:

  • Associate, St. Luke, St. Paul, 1946-1949
  • Associate, Ascension, Minneapolis, 1949-1950
  • Associate, St. Anthony of Padua, Minneapolis, 1950-1951
  • Associate, St. Bridget, Minneapolis, 1951-1953
  • Associate, St. Joseph, Red Wing, 1953-1954
  • Associate, St. Thomas the Apostle, Minneapolis, 1954
  • Pastor, St. Anthony, Regal, with the mission of St. Patrick, Kandiyohi, 1954 -1961
  • Pastor, St. Paul, Nicollet and St. Michael, Belgrade Township, 1961-1969
  • Pastor, St. Michael, Morgan, 1969-1980
  • Pastor, St. Leo, St. Leo, 1980-1985
  • Pastor, Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Taunton, while remaining pastor of St. Leo, St. Leo, 1981-1985
  • Pastor, Our Lady in Manannah, 1985-1992

Fr. Gleason retired from the assigned ministry in 1992 and died in 1998 at the age of 76.

Joseph Louis Heitzer
Born in 1914 in Germany, Fr. Heitzer was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Paul in 1942. He was never incardinated into the Diocese of New Ulm. However, Fr. Heitzer was credibly accused of abuse in the Archdiocese and was assigned at parishes that are now within the Diocese of New Ulm. Fr. Heitzer’s assignment history:

  • Associate, Holy Trinity, Winsted, 1942-1944
  • Associate, St. Andrew, Fairfax, 1944
  • Associate, Assumption, St. Paul, 1944-1945
  • Associate, Holy Redeemer, Marshall, 1945
  • Associate, St. Mary, Sleepy Eye, 1945-1948
  • Associate, St. Joseph, Waconia, 1948
  • Associate, St. Aloysius, Olivia, 1948-1950
  • Administrator, Sacred Heart, Franklin, 1950-1954
  • Pastor, St. Joseph, Rosen, 1954-1955
  • Pastor, St. Michael, Gaylord, 1955-1956
  • Pastor, St. Luke, Clearwater, 1956-1958
  • Pastor, St. Scholastica, Heidelberg, 1958-1966
  • Associate, St. Richard, Richfield, 1966-1967
  • In residence, St. Peter, Forest Lake, 1967-1968
  • Sacramental and supply ministry, clergy retreat house, Nevis (in the Crookston diocese), 1968
  • Chaplain, Divine Providence nursing home, Ivanhoe, 1969

Fr. Heitzer died in 1969 at the age of 55.

Rudolph Henrich
Born in 1906, Fr. Henrich was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Paul in 1933. He was never incardinated into the Diocese of New Ulm. However, Fr. Henrich was credibly accused of abuse in the Archdiocese and was assigned at parishes that are now within the Diocese of New Ulm. Fr. Henrich’s assignment history:

  • Associate, St. James, St. Paul, 1933-1937
  • Associate, Holy Trinity, Winsted, 1937-1938
  • Associate, St. Mark, Shakopee, 1938
  • Chaplain, State Training School for Boys, Red Wing, 1938-1942
  • Chaplain, U.S. Navy, 1942-1946
  • Chaplain, State Training School for Boys, Red Wing, 1946-1952
  • Chaplain, U.S. Forces, 1952-1954
  • Pastor, St. Boniface, Stewart, 1954-1957
  • Pastor, St. Margaret Mary, Minneapolis, 1957-1976

Fr. Henrich retired from assigned ministry in 1976 and died in 1992 at the age of 86.

Harry Majerus
Born in 1917 in Minneapolis, Fr. Majerus was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Paul in 1942. He was incardinated into the Diocese of New Ulm when the diocese was formed in 1957. Fr. Majerus was credibly accused of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, after he left the Diocese of New Ulm. Fr. Majerus’ assignment history:

  • Associate, St. Columba, St. Paul, 1943-1944
  • Assistant Director, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1944
  • Associate, Cathedral of St. Paul, 1944