Joliet Priest Lawrence Gibbs

Father Lawrence Gibbs

Father Lawrence Gibbs, considered Joliet’s “most notorious priest abuser,” was recognized early on in seminary as a “poor candidate” for the priesthood.  The Diocese of Joliet received repeated warnings about the character and propensities of Father Gibbs.  Although in 1964 the faculty at St. Mary of the Lake seminary voted against allowing Gibbs to continue with his vocation and subsequently asked him to leave, Gibbs continued on at St. Procopius seminary.  Again his superiors informed the Diocese of Joliet that Gibbs “bears watching.”  In 1971, Gibbs applied for ordination into the Diocese of Joliet but after three hours of deliberations, the Seminary Board voted 9 to 0 against allowing Gibbs to be ordained.  During their deliberations a number of the Board members stated that they cannot recommend him for the priesthood and they eventually gave him three options: 1) seek laicization, 2) take a leave of absence working as a layman and returning to an extended diaconate, or 3) continue as a deacon indefinitely.  Although he was subsequently rejected by the Diocese of Rockford in 1971 and again by the Diocese of Joliet in 1972, noting he “seems to lack good judgment and prudence,” Bishop Blanchette for reasons unknown ordained Gibbs in May 1973 as a priest of the Diocese of Joliet.  Problems arose almost immediately with Gibbs, and he was abruptly transferred to and from a number of parishes in Lombard, Lockport and Glen Ellyn.  During the latter half of the 1970s, allegations surfaced regarding Gibbs sexually abusing boys at a cabin.  Although Bishop Imesch was directly notified that several families intended to file charges against Gibbs, he simply transferred him to a different parish.  Numerous parishioners came forward to express their concerns, but Gibbs was still allowed access to children.  In 1992, the Diocese of Joliet finally suspended Gibbs from public ministry.

Read the secret priest file on Father Lawrence Gibbs