Fr. Dennis Rigney – Diocese of Allentown

| Oct 22, 2018 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Fr. Dennis Rigney

Diocese of Allentown

Dennis Rigney Horowitz Law

Ordained: May 21, 1966

Retired: 2002

Named in civil lawsuit: 2004

Died: March 7, 2024 at Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital

Assigned as follows:

  • 1966: St. Peter (Reading, PA)
  • 1966-1974: Various diocesan chancery assignments
  • 1974: St. Peter (Reading, PA)
  • 1974-1977: Various diocesan chancery assignments
  • 1977-1978: St. Paul (Allentown, PA)
  • 1978-1986: Various diocesan chancery assignments
  • 1987: St. Francis of Assisi (Allentown, PA)
  • 1987-2002: Various diocesan chancery assignments

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Dennis Rigney:

Fr. Dennis Rigney was ordained a priest in 1966, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Allentown.  In addition to his work in parish ministry, Father Dennis Rigney worked in various administrative positions for Diocese for most of his 35 year career as a priest, including as a secretary of the Tribunal.  Additionally, while his assignment history was discussed in great length in the August 2018 Grand Jury report, where he was assigned to live (“in residence”) was not listed. It is entirely possible he lived and did supply ministry at parishes not listed above.

According to media reports, in 1987, the Diocese of Allentown received a letter written to Archbishop Daniel Pilarcyzk of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.  In the letter, a woman informed the Archbishop that Rigney fondled her vaginal area when she was about 12 or 13 years old.  No additional information about the dates or location of the abuse, or why the victim reported it to Cincinnati, was included in the grand jury summary of documents reviewed.

In 1988, another woman approached the Diocese of Allentown to report that Rigney had digitally penetrated her vagina as a child. In response, Rigney sent the Bishop of Allentown a 23-page document denying the allegations and attempting to discredit the accuser.  The grand jury did not disclose the dates of the abuse nor any action taken by the Diocese in response to the allegation.

In 1989, a former employee of Holy Family Manor, where Rigney was either living or working, wrote to Bishop Welsh of the Diocese of Allentown to inform him that she was recently forced to resign her position as a nurse’s aid at HFM because she refused to submit to Rigney’s sexual advances.  She told him that it was an ongoing problem with female employees and that she tried to complain about it to her supervisors, who in turn pressured her to resign.

In 2002, another woman reported to the Diocese of Allentown that she was sexually abused by Rigney as a 9 or 10 year old girl in 1966 or 1967.  Her sister later told her that Rigney had done the same to her.  The abuse is alleged to have occurred at St. Peter’s in Reading, when he took the sisters on a trip to the river to waterski.

Less than two weeks later, Rigney asked the Bishop of Allentown for early retirement, citing medical issues.  He is listed on the Diocese of Allentown’s August 2018 list of credibly accused perpetrators.  Dennis Rigney passed away at age 83 on March 7, 2024 at Geisinger St. Luke’s Hospital.

Monsignor Rigney was the founder of Kennedy House in Reading and the founder of the Catholic Housing Corporations of Pottsville, Queen of Peace Apartments; Saint Clair, Neumann Apartments; Northern Berks, Queen of Angels; New Philadelphia, Holy Family Apartments; and Bethlehem, Holy Family Apartments. Until September of 1999, he was also president of these boards, plus of Antonian Towers, Easton. He was president of the Catholic Housing Corp. of both Bethlehem and New Philadelphia. In 1998, he developed a 120-bed Catholic Nursing Home in Schuylkill County, Seton Manor Inc. and was vice chairperson of the board of directors.

Monsignor Rigney, from 1983 until retirement, was CEO of Holy Family Manor Inc., a 208-bed nursing home in Bethlehem, Holy Family Residential Services/Assisted Living Inc. and Catholic Senior Housing Development and Management Inc. He was the diocesan director of Project HEAD, Senior Citizen Clubs; diocesan director of Services and Housing for the Elderly; and since June 16, 1987, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Allentown. He was a third degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

On March 14, 1977, Pope Paul VI named him Chaplain of His Holiness with the title Reverend Monsignor, and on Oct. 11, 1987, Pope John Paul II named him a Prelate of Honor (Domestic Prelate). He added a new 60-bed wing at Holy Family Apartments in Bethlehem named the McShea Pavilion, three personal care/assisted living facilities and an adult day care center.



Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.