Assignment Record– Rev. John B. Berning

Summary of Case: John B. Berning was ordained for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 1934. He assisted at parishes in Cincinnati, Hamilton, Middletown and Dayton, then led parishes in Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg, Lebanon and Waynesville. He retired in 1970 and relocated to St. Petersburg FL.

In 2003 a man filed suit, claiming Berning sexually abused him as a boy from 1957 to 1965, while the priest was pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Sedamsville. Five more men subsquently sued, claiming abuse by Berning at two different parishes in the 1950s and 1960s. Berning admitted to archdiocesan officials that he had abused children during his priesthood. He died in FL at age 97 on November 19, 2004.

Born: July 26, 1907
: 1934
Retired: 1970
Died: November 19, 2004


Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Archbishop was John Timothy McNicholas, O.P. (1925-1950).

1935 St. Catharine's Cincinnati OH 2/2

St. Catharine's had a school with 164 boys and 181 girls.

1935 1939 St. Joseph's Hamilton OH 2/2, 3/3 St. Joseph's had a school with 181-136 boys and 169-158 girls.
1939 1946 St. John's Middletown OH 2/2, 3/3 St. John's had a grade school with 100-117 boys and 115-82 girls, and a high school with 28-16 boys and 36-26 girls.
1946 1950 Sacred Heart Dayton OH 2/3 Sacred Heart had a school with 46-67 boys and 60-51 girls.


McNicholas was succeeded as Cincinnati archbishop by Karl Joseph Alter (1950-1969).

1953 St. Michael's Mechanicsburg OH 1/1  
1950 1953 Immaculate Conception North Lewisburg OH 1/1 This was a mission of St. Michael's in Mechanicsburg.
1953 1956 St. Francis de Sales Lebanon OH 1/1  
1953 1956 St. Augustine's Waynesville OH   This was a mission of St. Francis de Sales in Lebanon.
1956 1965 Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Cincinnati (Sedamsville)

Berning was accused in a 2003 lawsuit of sexually abusing a boy 1957-1965 while assigned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Berning admitted to archdiocesan officials that he abused children during his priesthood.

Five men filed suit in October 2003, claiming Berning sexually abused them repeatedly as altar boys, some at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, others at St. Margaret of Cortona.

OH 1/2 Our Lady of Perpetual Help had a school with 120-93 boys and 122-90 girls.


Paul Francis Leibold replaced Alter (1969-1972).

1970 St. Margaret of Cortona


Five men filed suit in October 2003, claiming Berning sexually abused them repeatedly as altar boys, some at St. Margaret of Corton Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

OH 2/3, 1/2 St. Margaret's had a school with 226-161 boys and 228-166 girls.


Leibold was succeeded by Joseph Louis Bernardin (1972-1982).

1976 Retired, Sick or Leave of Absence Cincinnati OH   Berning is listed in the Cincinnati pages under "Retired, Sick of Leave of Absence," without specifics as to his status. He is indexed with the address 1270 Grace Ave., Cincinnati. His obituary states that he moved to St. Petersburg FL in 1972, but news accounts indicate he moved there in 1970.
1976 1982 Retired Cincinnati OH   1270 Grace Ave., Cincinnati.


Cincinnati archbishop was Daniel Edward Pilarczyk (1982-2009).

2003 Retired St. Petersburg FL  

Berning was placed on leave in 2003 after accusations of past child sexual abuse emerged.



2004         Berning is not indexed in the 2004 Directory. He died in FL at age 97, November 19, 2004.

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1935-2004).

• Priest Admits Long-Ago Molestation, By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer, August 29, 2003
 10 Area Priests to be Reviewed, Dayton Daily News, September 18, 2003
 Archbishop Places Abusive Priests on Leave, Dayton Daily News, September 23, 2003
Claims of Abuse by Priest Tossed Out, By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer, October 10, 2003
New Lawsuit Filed against Archdiocese, By Neil RelyeaWCPO, October 18, 2003
14 Still Priests Despite Sex Cases, Dayton Daily News, March 12, 2004
 Justices to Consider If Time Limits Apply to Church Abuse Claims, Beacon Journal (AP), June 29, 2005 
Obituaries, St. Petersburg Times, November 20, 2004

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Berning's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on December 28, 2016.


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.