Assignment Record – Rev. Clarence J. Vavra

Summary of Case: Clarence Vavra was ordained a priest of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese in 1965. In his 38 years of active ministry, he was transferred 17 times. The Official Catholic Directory reveals several gaps in his assignment history which include a "sick leave" in the early 1970s, an unspecified "special assignment" in the mid-1980s and an unexplained absence from the 1997 and 1998 Directories. He is known to have received inpatient psychological treatment in 1996. In 1975-1976 Vavra worked at a Jesuit mission on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota; he admitted in a 1996 psychological evaluation to having sexually abused several boys ages 9-12 and a teen boy while there. Vavra agreed to retire in 2003, in exchange for an extra $650 per month from the archdiocese. In November 2013 he is living in a residential New Prague, MN neighborhood, a block away from a school. Also in November 2013, Rosebud Indian Reservation law enforcement officials opened an investigation.

: 1965


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State/Country Position Notes

June 9, 1965

St. Paul-Minneapolis archbishop was Leo Binz (1961-1975).

June 16, 1969 St. Rose of Lima

St. Paul


MN 3/3 St Rose of Lima had a school with 850-639 students.
June 16, 1969 Oct. 1, 1970 St. Philip's (Polish) Minneapolis MN 2/2 St. Philip's had a school with 154 students.
1970 1971 St. Peter's North St. Paul MN 3/3 St. Peter's had a school with 459 students.
Oct. 4, 1971 July 2, 1972 Guardian Angels Hastings MN 2/2  
July 2, 1972 June 19, 1973 Sick Leave        
June 19, 1973 June 17, 1975 St. Matthew's (German) St. Paul MN 2/2 St. Matthew's had a school with 525-542 people.

June 1975

Rapid City bishop was Harold Joseph Dimmerling (1969-1987).


June 1976 On Duty Outside the archdiocese/Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation Jesuit Mission


In a 1995 psychological evaluation, Vavra admitted to sexually abusing several young boys, ages 9-7, and a teenage boy while at the Mission.


Vavra is indexed as on duty outside the archdiocese in the 1976 Directory, but his name is not listed in the "on duty outside" section of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan pages.

Per news reports in 2013, Vavra served during this time on the Rosebud Sioux tribe's reservation, at a Jesuit mission.


Binz was succeeded St. Paul-Minneapolis archbishop by John Robert Roach (1975-1995).

1977 Holy Spirit St. Paul MN 2/2 Holy Spirit had a school with 461 students.
June 15, 1977 June 14, 1978 Sacred Heart Rush City MN 1/1  
June 15, 1977 June 14, 1978 St. Gregory's North Branch MN administrator This was a mission of Sacred Heart in Rush City.
July 4, 1978   State Training School Red Wing MN chaplain This assignment is per news reports. Vavra was initially appointed full-time chaplain at this juvenile correctional facility, but went to part-time after two weeks.
July 1978 Jan. 15, 1979 St. Joseph's Red Wing MN in residence This assignment is per news reports.
Jan. 15, 1979 Dec. 1, 1979 St. Wenceslaus' New Prague MN 2/2 St. Wenceslaus' had a school with 385 students.
Dec. 1, 1979 June 16, 1981 St. Jerome's Maplewood MN 2/2 St. Jerome's had a school with 200 students.
June 16, 1981 June 18, 1986 Holy Redeemer Maplewood MN 1/1  
1986 1987 Special Assignment       Vavra is indexed in the 1987 Directory as on "special assignment", but his name is not listed in the "special assignment" section of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan pages. Per news reports, he was "unassigned" June 18, 1986-March 11, 1987.
March 11, 1987 July 1, 1987 St. Genevieve's Centerville MN temporary administrator This assignment is per news reports.
March 11, 1987 Nov. 11, 1992 St. Nicholas New Market MN 1/1  

Nov. 11, 1992

Harry Joseph Flynn was St. Paul-Minneapolis archbishop 1995-2008).

Aug. 9, 1996 St. Philip (Polish) Minneapolis MN 1/1 Although he admitted in 1995 that he had sexually abused boys in 1975, Vavra was not removed from ministry.
1996 1997         Vavra is not indexed in the 1997 or 1998 Directories. Per news reports, he went on "sabbatical" in 1996 and received inpatient psychological treatment.
Jan. 6, 1997 July 30, 1997 Nativity of Mary Cleveland MN associate priest This assignment is per news reports.
July 30, 1997 May 17, 2003 Most Holy Redeemer Montgomery MN associate priest This assignment is per news reports.
1997 May 17, 2003 St. Patrick's (Irish-Czech) Shieldsville MN 1/2

St. Patrick's had a religious education program with 108-76 students.

Vavra is not indexed beyond the 2003 Directory. Per news reports, Vavra agreed to retire in exchange for an extra $650 per month payment from the archdiocese.

May 17, 2003

John Clayton Nienstedt replaced Flynn
(2008- ).

    New Prague MN  

In November 2013, Vavra was living in a New Prague, MN, residential neighborhood, a block from a school.

Also in November 2013, Rosebud Indian Reservation law enforcement officials opened an investigation into the allegations of abuse of children by Vavra.


Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1966-2004)

Abusive priest hid in plain sight for years, retired quietly to New Prague, by Madeleine Baran,
Tom Scheck and Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio, November 11, 2013
Archbishop Pledges to Release Names of Priests Who Sexually Abused Children, by Madeleine Baran, The Minnesota Public Radio, November 11, 2013
Open Letter from Archbishop John Nienstedt Regarding Clarance Vavra, By John C. Nienstedt, The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, November 11, 2013
SD- Predator Priest Admits Molesting Sd Kids, The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, November 11, 2013
MN- " Worse Revelation Yet" in Mn Archdiocese, SNAP Says, The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, November 11, 2013
Archdiocese to Name Abusive Priests, By Tony Kennedy, The Star Tribune, November 11, 2013
Archdiocese to Release Names of Priests Who Abused Children, The Valley News Live, November 11, 2013
SD Reservation to Investigate Minn. Priest, The Associated Press, November 12, 2013
Neighbor 'Totally Shocked' to Hear Clergy Allegations, By Jana Shortal, KARE, November 12, 2013
SD Reservation Opens Investigation into Minn. Priest's Alleged Sexual Abuse, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio, November 12, 2013
Court-ordered Disclosure Would Offer Best Hope of Full Accounting in Priest Sex-abuse Cases, By Beth Hawkins, MinnPost, November 15, 2013
Twin Cities Crisis Gets Worse & Weirder, By Barbara Dorris, The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, November 18, 2013
Pioneer Press 11.03.93; St Paul & Minneapolis List of Credibly Accused Priests, released Dec. 5, 2013

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 Vavra'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 Dec. 9, 2013

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