A third priest who previously served at St. Titus Church has been found in the recently released grand jury report on sexual abuse in Pennsylvania Dioceses.

Monsignor Louis Lorei, who served in Titusville from June, 1976 to September, 1981, has an incident of abuse stemming from his time as Pastor at Our Lady of Peace school, in Erie, which was his assignment following St. Titus.

On the report itself, Lorei was not listed as having worked at St. Titus. However, a reader tipped off Herald reporters that Lorei was in the report and worked at St. Titus. Lorei’s name was found multiple times in archived Herald articles.

According to the grand jury report, a victim of Lorei’s alleged abuse said that he “was touched by Monsignor Lorei” sometime in either 1980 or 1981, when the victim was between 11 to 13 years old.

The victim was a student at Our Lady of Peace school, and worked as an altar server during early mass, which Lorei held.

The report states that Lorei invited the victim into his rectory and bedroom on multiple occasions. Lorei allegedly hugged and kissed the victim during these times.

The victim eventually refused to serve mass alongside the monsignor, and Lorei was eventually removed from office.

In December 2009, Father Mark Hoffman called the Bishop’s office to issue a report on the allegations against Lorei, after being approached by the victim.

Hoffman had previously documented a case involving another victim on March 30, 2007. According to a memorandum issued by Hoffman, the second victim was abused at a United Methodist retreat in 2000. Hoffman found out through the victim’s father.

The grand jury report states that a note found in the Hoffman memorandum said, “Review Board found no merit in processing since supposed victim did not come forth even after requests.” It is not clear whom the note is referencing.

While the grand jury made subpoena, no file for Lorei was given by the Erie Diocese, potentially explaining why his time at St. Titus was not included in the report.

According to a Sept. 25, 1981 Herald article, Lorei was ordained in 1947 after studying at Catholic University of America. He was assigned to Gannon College, where he worked as a librarian, after the ordination. He climbed the ranks, eventually being appointed dean of humanities at Gannon in 1956.

Lorei received recognition by two separate popes, being named a very reverend monsignor by Pope John XXIII in 1963, and named a right revered monsignor by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

According to the article, Lorei was elected dean of the Oil City area by the Oil City Deanery at an unspecified point in time. He also served as the deanery’s representative to the Senate of Priests until 1981.

During his time at St. Titus, Lorei oversaw many major renovation projects, with more than $400,000 spent across the various programs. This included a new parking lot for the church, a shrine area and installation of bells.

The report lists Lorei as having died in 1986.

Lorei joins Monsignor James F. Hopkins and Father Donald Cooper as St. Titus priests included in the report. Hopkins served as St. Titus’ pastor from 1928 until 1957, when he died. According to the report, Hopkins allegedly fondled and kissed a 13-year-old girl during his tenure at St. Titus.

Cooper worked at the church from 1964 to 1971, however like Lorei, his alleged abuse did not take place while he was in Titusville. Cooper is accused of abusing a 16-year-old boy between 1981 and 1982 while working at St. Charles, in New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The report

The grand jury report was released Tuesday by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and was the result of a two year investigation.

The 887-page report details 301 separate “predator priests,” who have a combined count of more than 1,000 victims.The grand jury suspects that number to be higher.

Six of Pennsylvania’s eight Dioceses were investigated for the final report. Both the Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown Diocese were not included in the report, as previous investigations had been performed looking into them.

Many of the priests included in the report have long since died, preventing any actions being taken against. Even in the cases where the accused are alive, the statue of limitations have run out.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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