Priest removed from ministry during investigation

UPDATE:  On August 27, 2020, Father Potts was restored to ministry by Bishop Alfred Schlert. 

See the updated news release by clicking here.


Father Robert J. Potts, pastor of St. Ursula Church, Fountain Hill (Bethlehem), has been removed from ministry pending investigation of an allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The allegation was made recently to the administrators of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, who then notified the Diocese. The Diocese had no prior knowledge of the allegation until being notified by program administrators. The program was established by the Diocese to provide compensation to abuse victims as one part of their healing.

On the day he was notified of the allegation, Bishop Alfred Schlert immediately removed Father Potts from ministry and immediately directed that law enforcement be notified. 

The removal of Father Potts from ministry at this time is not a determination of guilt, but rather a precautionary measure until the appropriate investigations are completed.

The abuse allegedly occurred when Father Potts, now 82, was pastor of the former St. George Parish, Shenandoah. He was ordained in March 1964.

As part of its cooperation with law enforcement, the Diocese sought the guidance of the Schuylkill County District Attorney’s office regarding the appropriate timing of a public announcement.

Parishioners of St. Ursula’s were informed of the allegation at all Masses this weekend.

Assignment History of Father Potts:

Immaculate Conception, Jim Thorpe   1964 - 1965

St. Joseph, Easton 1965 - 1966

St. Vincent de Paul, Minersville1966 - 1967

St. Ann, Lansford1967 - 1969

Notre Dame, Bethlehem1969 - 1970

St. Vincent de Paul, Minersville 1970 - 1978

St. Bernard, Easton1978 - 1979

Sacred Heart, New Philadelphia1979 - 1985

St. George, Shenandoah1985 - 2004

also Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Shenandoah 1986 - 2004

also St. Stephen, Shenandoah2001 - 2004

St. Mary, Ringtown and St. Joseph, Sheppton2004 – 2006

St. Ursula, Fountain Hill 2006-Present

Anyone who knows of incidents of abuse, in the Church or elsewhere, should report it to the State Child Line at 1-800-932-0313 or to local law enforcement. To speak directly to the Diocese of Allentown’s Victim Assistance Coordinator, please call her direct line: 1-800-791-9209.