The man who allegedly sexually abused two boys at St. Agnes Cathedral in the 1980s was a priest for 25 years who coordinated the cathedral’s 1982 renovation.
The Rev. John J. McGeever died suddenly of a heart attack on Nov. 21, 1993, according to an obituary in the Dec. 9 issue of the Long Island News and the Owl. By that time, he was a pastor at St. Joachim’s Church in Cedarhurst. He spent seven years at St. Agnes as an associate pastor.
Twenty-five years after his death, the reputation of “a man featuring Irish charm with a wide grin,” as described in “To Believe in a Vision” by James M. O’Neill, was tarnished after two men shared what McGeever had done to them.
Sean O’Brien, a former altar boy at St. Agnes, told the Herald last month that McGeever repeatedly sodomized him in the basement of the St. Agnes rectory over two years in 1981 and 1982. Earlier this year, a man who asked the Herald not to reveal his identity said that McGeever sexually abused him more than 100 times from 1983 to 1993, convincing him to shower with him. Both filed claims in the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, and received a monetary settlement.
Former co-principals of St. Agnes Cathedral School who worked there at the time McGeever served as a pastor said they had no information to share. A woman believed to be McGeever’s niece did not respond to the Herald’s request for comment.
McGeever, ordained in 1968, grew up in the Bronx, attended Canisius College in Buffalo and studied for the diocesan priesthood at St. Bernard’s Seminary and at St. John Vianney Seminary, the News and the Owl wrote. In addition to working at St. Agnes, he had served as associate pastor at St. Patrick’s in Huntington, Holy Spirit Church in New Hyde Park, and spent a year as associate pastor of Corpus Christi Church in Mineola before being appointed pastor of St. Joachim’s. He was named dean of the Five Towns Deanery in 1992.
McGeever helped found the St. Agnes Cathedral Gaelic Society 10 years before his death, and was instrumental in writing the by-laws of the organization and in securing a charter from the church council through Msgr. Edward Melton, according to the News and the Owl. A Gaelic Society spokesperson stated in the obituary, “His quiet Irish wit and love of things that were Irish will always be remembered by those who knew him.”
The Rev. Thomas Gallagher, pastor of Sacred Heart Church at the time of McGeever’s death, told the News and the Owl that his former classmate was “tickled pink about being a priest.”
Sister Mary Albert, a woman who worked under McGeever at St. Joachim’s Church, said last week that she remembered only his name.