Assignment Record – Rev. Joseph A. Balfe, s.j.

Summary of Case: Balfe was a Jesuit priest ordained in 1927 whose career took him to Indian missions in Alaska, Washington state and Montana. He was also assigned to several parishes and hospitals. Balfe was accused in a lawsuit settled in 2011 of having sexually abused children residing at the St. Ignatius Mission boarding school in Montana. He died in 1969.

: 1927
Died: 1969


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes
1927 1928         Balfe is not indexed in the 1928 Directory.


Seattle archbishop was Edward John O'Dea (1896-1932)

1931 Manresa Hall Port Townsend WA    


Helena bishop was George Joseph Finnigan, c.s.c. (1927-1932), followed by Ralph Leo Hayes (1933-1935)

1935 St. Ignatius Mission St. Ignatius MT 1/3 Superior St. Ignatius Mission had a school with 70-16 boys and 103-88 girls, described as "a boarding and day school for girls and little boys". It also had a high school for both day students and boarders.
1931 1935 St. John Berchman's Arlee MT   This was a mission of St. Ignatius Mission.
1931 1935   Jocko MT   This was a mission of St. Ignatius Mission.


Great Falls bishop was Edwin Vincent O'Hara (1930-1939)

1937 St. Paul's Mission Hays MT 1/2, Superior

St. Paul's Mission had a school with 119 students, and a religious vacation school with 31 students.

Balfe is indexed in the 1937 Directory as at this mission, but he is not listed as there in the Great Falls diocesan pages.

1935 1937 St. Thomas Lodge Pole MT   This was a mission of St. Paul's Mission. It had a religious vacation school with 18 students.
1935 1937   Zortman MT   This was a mission of St. Paul's Mission.


Spokane bishop was Charles Daniel White (1926-1955)

1939 St. Mary's Indian Mission Omak WA 1/2, 1/1 Superior St. Mary's had a school with 65-72 students.



1940 St. Aloysius Spokane WA 2/3 St. Aloysius had a school with 317 students.


Seattle archbishop was Gerald Shaughnessy, s.m. (1933-1950)

1943 St. Joseph's Yakima WA 1/2 St. Joseph's had a grade school with 199 boys and 193 girls, and a high school with 154 girls.
1940 1943 St. Mary's White Swan (Indian Reservation) WA   This was a mission of St. Joseph's in Yakima.


Bishop of the Vicariate-Apostolic of Alaska was Joseph Raphael John Crimont, s.j. (1904-1945)

1944 Immaculate Conception Fairbanks (Tanana Valley) AK 2/3 Pastor The first priest listed is Most Rev. Walter J. Fitzgerald, s.j.
1943 1944 St. Joseph's Hospital Fairbanks AK   Also noted under Chapel is "Visits Nenana".


Helena bishop was Joseph Michael Gilmore (1935-1962)

1945 St. Francis Xavier's Missoula MT 1/4 Superior St. Francis Xavier's had a school with 160 boys and 132 girls.
1945 1953 St. Ignatius Mission

St. Ignatius

A native american man who resided as a child at this mission school said in 2011 that Balfe once asked him to assist mass, and when the boy showed up, Balfe was standing naked in the sacristy. The accuser lived at the mission for two years, beginning at age 6.

Another accuser who lived at the mission as a child said that Balfe asked him during confession what bed he slept in.

Balfe was accused of sexually abusing an altar boy at St. Ignatius Mission between 1959 and 1960.

MT 1/3, 1/4 , 1/5 Superior  
1945 1953 Sacred Heart Arlee MT   This was a mission of St. Ignatius Mission.
1945 1953 St. John Berchman's Jocko MT   This was a mission of St. Ignatius Mission.
1945 1953 St. Leonard's Dixon MT   This was a mission of St. Ignatius Mission.


Great Falls bishop was William Joseph Condon (1939-1967)

1957 St. Jude Thaddeus Havre MT 1/4 St. Jude's had a school with 191-216 boys and 204-224 girls, and a religious vacation school with 33 students.
1953 1957 St. John's Cottonwood MT   This was a mission of St. Jude's in Havre.


Spokane bishop was Bernard Joseph Topel (1955-1978)

1958 St. Aloysius Spokane WA 3/5 St. Aloysius had a school with 769 students.


Seattle archbishop was Thomas Arthur Connolly (1950-1975)

1959   Seattle WA   Balfe is indexed as at 1103 16th Ave., Seattle, WA.
1958 1964 St. Mary's Indian Mission Omak WA 1/3 Superior  
1958 1964 St. Joseph's East Omak WA   This was a mission of St. Mary's Indian Mission in Omak.
1964 1965 Seattle Prep. High School Seattle WA   Seattle Prep. had 495 students, all male.
1965 1967 St. Joseph's Seattle WA 4/5 St. Joseph's had a school with 459-428 boys and 390-387 girls.
1967 1969 Jesuit House, Gonzaga University Spokane WA In residence.  
1967 1969 Mt. Carmel Hospital Colville WA chaplain Balfe died Sept. 29, 1969


Sources: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1928-1970)

Fr. Joseph A. Balfe,, March 09, 2009
Anguish Has Never Healed for Natives Physically, Sexually Abused at St. Ignatius Mission, By Gwen Florio, The Missoulian, June 5, 2011
Lawsuit Filed Alleging Sexual Abuse by Nuns at St. Ignatius Mission, By Gwen Florio, The Missoulian, September 27, 2011
Complaint for Damages, Montana First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County, October 8, 2011

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 Balfe'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 April 21, 2013