Former UP chaplain named in Indiana sex abuse report

By Madison Pfeifer | September 21, 2018 3:11pm

Fr. James Trepanier, as seen in this 1965 Log yearbook photo, served as UP chaplain from 1964 - 1967. He is one of 18 priests the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana recently named as credibly accused of sexual abuse of a child. Photo from UP Log (Yearbook)

A former University of Portland chaplain is listed in a report detailing 18 priests “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of minors in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana. 

Rev. James Trepanier, a Holy Cross priest, served as University chaplain from 1964-1967.

On Sept. 18, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades released the names of the priests. Rhoades vowed to release the names last month in response to a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that accused 300 priests of sexual abuse of minors. 

According to the information released by the Indiana diocese, there was one credible allegation against Rev. Trepanier. The report does not say when the alleged crime occurred, only that it occurred in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. 

James Trepanier photo from 2015 "Holy Cross Jubilarians" program in celebration of the 65th anniversary of his ordination. 

Some of the accused priests are dead or incarcerated. The statement from the diocese states that Trepanier, who is 89, had his “faculties for ministry removed from Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend” in Oct. 2002. He was allowed to remain a priest however, and in 2015, was invited to celebrate his 60th anniversary of ordination with other members of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

The program from the 2015 celebration Mass at Notre Dame features a one-page biography of Trepanier. It says he taught high school for two years prior to his time at UP and he moved to Holy Cross House (retirement facility for priests) near the University of Notre Dame in 2003. 

After serving at UP, the report of allegations released this week says Trepanier served at the Holy Cross Mission House and later served at Holy Cross parish in South Bend, Indiana from 1981-1987 and St. Pius X Parish in Granger, Indiana from 1987-1991. The report also says that in 1994 Trepanier served at St. Mary’s Convent in Notre Dame, Indiana. 

This is the second member of the Congregation of Holy Cross who has worked at the University of Portland to be publicly named in a sex abuse case within the past several weeks. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report released Aug. 15 said former University of Portland President (1978-1981) Br. Raphael Wilson admitted to sexually abusing a boy, although that report did not say when or where the abuse occurred. The Pennsylvania report says Wilson reached a $250,000 confidential settlement with the victim.

According to a report in the Catholic Sentinel, Wilson is still alive and 93 years old. 

Madison Pfeifer is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at