Assignment Record Rev. John J. Owens

Summary of Case: John J. Owens was ordained for the Bismarck, North Dakota diocese in 1960. He assisted at parishes in Minot, Mandan, Williston and Trenton and went on to pastor parishes in towns including Leipzig, Douglas, Wilton and Menoken. Owens was longtime director of diocesan communications and editor of the diocesan paper. He also hosted a radio program which focused on outreach to area youth. He retired in 1999 to Forest Lake Minnesota, where he provided temporary assistance in parishes until 2004. Forest Lake is part of the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese.

In 2002 a report was made to the Bismarck diocese that Owens had engaged in sexual misconduct toward a minor. Owens' faculties were removed by the diocese, but he was allowed to continue as a fill-in priest in Minnesota until 2004; his faculties were removed there in 2005. The accusation wasn't made public until October 23, 2014, when the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis included Owens' name on a list of clergy with substantiated claims against them of child sexual abuse. Details of the abuse have not been released, except that it is said to have occurred in North Dakota. He is said to be living a "life of atonement."

Ordained: 1960



Start Stop Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes


Bismarck bishop was Hilary Baumann Hacker (1956-1982).

1962 St. Therese of the Little Flower


ND 2/2

St. Therese had a school with 465-397 students.


1964 St. Joseph's Mandan ND 3/3, 2/3 St. Joseph's had a school with 695-683 students.


1967 St. Joseph's Williston ND 2/2 St. Joseph's had a school with 471-430 students.
1964 1967 St. John the Baptist Trenton ND   This was a mission of St. Joseph's in Williston.
1967 1971 St. John the Baptist Leipzig ND 1/1  
1967 1971 Mary Immaculate Miner ND   This was a mission of St. John the Baptist in Leipzig.
1967 1971 Sacred Heart of Jesus Bently ND   This was a mission of St. John the Baptist in Leipzig.



1989 Diocesan Radio and Television Bismarck ND Director Owens hosted a weekly radio show called "Padres Platters." Its target audience was area youth; it addressed a range of topics including substance abuse, sex, and acne.
1971 1974 Holy Cross Douglas ND


Administrator 1971-1972

1971 1974 St. Charles Borromeo Ryder ND   This was a mission of Holy Cross in Douglas.
1971 1974 St. Elizabeth Makoti ND   This was a mission of Holy Cross in Douglas.
1971 1992 Diocesan Newspaper: Dakota Catholic Action Bismarck ND Editor  
1974 1990 Sacred Heart Wilton ND 1/1  
1974 1982 St. Edwin Washburn ND   This was a mission of Sacred Heart in Wilton.


Hacker was succeeded by John Francis Kinney (1982-1995).

1990 St. Ignatius Wing ND   This was a mission of Sacred Heart in Wilton.
1989 1999 Diocesan Communications Office Bismarck ND Director  


Paul Albert Zipfel replaced Kinney (1996-2011).

1999 St. Hildegard Menoken ND 1/1 St. Hildegard had a CCD program with 106-63 students.
1990 1999 St. Anthony Driscoll ND   This was a mission of St. Hildegard in Menoken.


St. Paul and Minneapolis archbishop was Harry Joseph Flynn (1995-2008), followed by John Clayton Nienstedt (2008-2015).

2010 Retired Forest Lake MN Per the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, Owens was a fill-in priest in and around Forest Lake 1999-2004, even though his faculties were removed by Bismarck in 2002 after that diocese received a report of sexual misconduct toward a minor by Owens. St. Paul-Minneapolis removed his faculties in 2005.

Owens is not indexed beyond the 2010 Directory.

Per the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese in October 2014, Owens was living a "life of atonement" in Forest Lake.


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1961-2010)

Names of 17 Priests Added to Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis' List of Abusers Today, Press Release, Jeff Anderson and Associates, October 23, 2014
Statement Regarding Disclosure of Additional Names, Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, October 23, 2014
Former Bismarck priest, DJ Named in Sex Abuse Claim, By Andrew Sheeler, The Bismarck Tribune, October 23, 2014
Archdiocese Releases Four New Names of Priests Accused of Abuse, by Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, October 23, 2014
17 More Twin Cities Priests ID'd as Probable Pedophiles, By Emily Gurnon, Pioneer Press, October 23, 2014
Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment, John Owens, Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, October 23, 2014
17 more priest offenders are identified by St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune, October 23, 2015

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.

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 Owen's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation 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 August 10, 2015.