Cross to Bare

For 20 years Dale Fushek was the golden boy of the Phoenix Catholic Diocese. Now, his golden boys are talking

The most serious accusations against Fushek are that he watched the sexual assault of a child by Lehman and once put his hand down a boy's pants.

Mostly, he variably is accused of watching, groping, running around naked, suggesting others do the same, and obsessing over young men's underwear and masturbatory practices.

What is highly inappropriate behavior, especially by a spiritual leader in charge of young people, is not always illegal behavior.

Fushek's parish, St. Timothy's, is considered one of the Valley's most successful churches.
Peter Scanlon
Fushek's parish, St. Timothy's, is considered one of the Valley's most successful churches.
Pedophile Life Teen employee Marc Gherna (forefront)
Mark Poutenis
Pedophile Life Teen employee Marc Gherna (forefront)

According to his alleged victims, Dale Fushek seemed much more aware of the lines between legal and illegal than the lines between appropriate and inappropriate, helpful and devastating.

After high school, Fushek attended St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, California, just north of Los Angeles. The seminary, it was later documented, was a breeding ground for pedophiles and pedophile protectors in the church. Fushek received his master's in divinity there.

He was ordained in 1978. His first assignment was at St. Jerome's in Phoenix under Richard Moyer, who later became vicar-general, second in command under Thomas O'Brien, Phoenix's former bishop. In 2000, Fushek joined Moyer as co-vicar-general under O'Brien.

At St. Jerome's, Fushek began building a youth program that would become the precursor to Life Teen. During his stay at St. Jerome's, Fushek pursued his master's of liturgy from the University of Notre Dame by spending summers in South Bend, Indiana. As he studied the church's liturgy, he said he became increasingly convinced that the church had to speak to young Americans in ways that were relevant to their lives.

Under Fushek, teens became involved with all levels of the liturgy, from planning to acting as Eucharistic ministers and readers.

Besides a Sunday evening Mass designed specifically for teens, a high-energy Mass full of fun and rollicking music, Fushek's program also involved lengthy group and individual discussions of the issues teens were facing.

Sex, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, anything that affected teenagers and challenged their faith.

Fushek moved over to St. Tim's in 1985 and began Life Teen in 1986. Within only a few years, Life Teen was picked up by churches around the country. And Fushek was becoming a star both at home and nationally.

It was quickly apparent, too, that Dale Fushek was Bishop Thomas O'Brien's golden boy. Fushek's Life Teen program brought the Diocese of Phoenix the most positive local and national press ever. Fushek also proved himself to be a whiz at organizing major events, and a charismatic spokesperson when those events arrived. And as Fushek ascended the diocesan chain of command, he increasingly became in charge of forging O'Brien's own legacy as "The Builder Bishop."

In turn, Fushek's critics say, O'Brien refused to hear critical words about his beloved henchman.

By 1990, it seemed clear that Dale Fushek would someday succeed O'Brien.

Jim Partsch had always been a huge fan of Dale Fushek's. Using Fushek's Life Teen program at his own parish in Grand Junction, Colorado, Partsch had watched a whole generation of the city's Catholics become excited and inspired by their faith.

"It was a great program," says Partsch, who is not a priest. "We took the model and made it our own, and it ended up being extremely successful."

Dale Fushek became a fan of Jim Partsch's, too. Here was an energetic, charismatic and well-organized young man who ran one of the most successful programs outside of the Valley.

Partsch attended Life Teen conferences at St. Tim's in 1990, when Partsch was 20, then again in 1991.

After the visits, Partsch says, Fushek began calling him often in Colorado. Fushek told him he was worried about Partsch's spiritual growth. But the topic always seemed to be sex -- whether Partsch was having sex with his girlfriend, whether he masturbated, whether she masturbated him, whether he thought about men.

Partsch kept a journal through the early and mid-1990s. He showed that journal to New Times.

From July 1992:

"I returned home from Mesa July 2. On July 5, Fr. Dale called me to see how I was doing. He questioned me about my sexuality with my girlfriend. He wanted to know how I was doing with masturbation, had I done anything with my girlfriend? He would ask very bluntly questions like: 'Did she masturbate you? Did you finger her? How far would you go?' I said, 'I didn't know,' he then asked: 'Would you have intercourse? Would you shower with her? Would you have oral sex?' I responded to his questions. Then he talked about the Life Teen Program, and he told me how things were in Arizona, but he never asked about our program. He then left a number of messages for me on my answering machine."

Although Fushek's questions made him uncomfortable, Partsch trusted Father Dale, who told him that he wanted Partsch's sex life to be right with God.

One year later, in June of 1993, Fushek offered Partsch the full-time paid position of director of Life Teen at St. Tim's. The job had been held by Phil Baniewicz, also a layperson, who was moving on to become director of the national Life Teen program.

One thing quickly struck Partsch in the first few weeks of his work in the Valley.

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

Bishop Olmsted after reading Dale Fushek book, you are one dirty bastard and you need to go to hell, what a scum bag MF it's to bad your mother could have avoid us this pain that we are feeling by having an abortion. We hate you bastard don't come to Sun City West any time soon.

Sun City West Bill
Sun City West Bill

Bishop took action on Fushek, we have a PERVERT from Canada David Ostler has been here five years at two catholic churches he can't live in Sun City West he is not 55years old the bishop assigned him here to keep him away from children.


The New Times is a joke. To even consider your liberal paper would even give this great man the benefit of the doubt would be impossible.

Your paper, your staff and writers are a despicable bunch of anti-Christian type.. we know this. You might fool a few underaged kids, but not us who are in the know.

I know this man and very well I might add. You, along with your noisey evil followers, the AZ Republic, jumped all over this man with vigorous hate.. I have never seen the like. And why? Because some snot-nose little jerks (including Mark Tropio - his dad never did like "FD") didn't get to head Life Teen - so they plotted revenge. Yes I know the facts, and Msgr. Dale was/is totally innocent.

The sumbag lawyers and shrinks all had a hand in manufacturing this bunch of lies - to what end??? For $40,000.. Wow.. To ruin a man for money while your ignorant stinking paper writes the lies to condemn this man. Shame on you and your staff for adding insult to injury.

Msgr. Dale is innocent, whether you like it or not. That is fact and truth. He also built Life Teen, and the most awesome parish in the country.. and it took a bunch of loser liberal evil newspapers, filty lawyers, and corrupt shrinks over many years to crucify this great man.. and he carries his cross well.

Msgr. Dale will not seek revenge. He is a man of God and one who forgives.. He is bigger than us.. He is better than us... He has done God's work.. I am proof of this. He brought me back "home" - back to Church, back home to God and Jesus Christ!

I thank God for Msgr. Dale Fushek.. If you read this "FD", know that you are loved and missed by thousands of your flock.

To the New Times.. your paper is trash.. it caters to people who are unknowning, unsuspecting, ignorant, people who have yet to realize the love of God.

I pray your paper goes out of business by 2010.

Phoenix Concert Tickets