Rev. Thomas H. Economus, 46
March 27, 2002
Rev. Thomas H. Economus, 46, a Chicago resident who spoke for victims sexually abused by clergy--years after his own assault by a priest was met by silence--died of bone cancer Saturday, March 23, in Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Born in Highland Park and raised in Highwood, Father Economus attended high school in South Dakota, where he was abused. Years later, when he spoke of the incidents, no one believed him, his sister Deborah Economus Scherer said, spurring him in 1991 to co-found the Chicago-based organization Linkup Survivors of Clergy Abuse. As president and executive director, Father Economus organized annual conferences for victims, raised funds, tracked abuse allegations in a database, assisted in numerous lawsuits and spoke, often critically, to the media about the Catholic Church's handling of sexual abuse issues. While working at his sister's restaurant, "victims would come in and he would always make a phone call for them or just talk to them and put them in the right direction for help," said another sister, Margaret Dimmerling. After studying in various seminaries throughout the United States, Father Economus became an ordained minister in the Independent Catholic Church in the early 1990s, his sister said. Other survivors include his mother, Shirley; a grandmother, Dorothy Spradlin; and a brother, David. Services have been held.