LifeTeen Founder Laicized

Today the Diocese of Phoenix announced that the former Father Dale Fushek has been dismissed from the clerical state (i.e. the Priesthood).

Fushek, best known for founding the Life Teen Ministry, was laicized after a Vatican investigation into charges of the sexual abuse of minors. Fushek actually left the Church in 2007 and was formally excommunicated by Phoenix bishop, Thomas Olmsted’s in December 2008.

The Diocese of Phoenix has a great Q&A resource on laicization.

While Life Teen has yet to comment on the laicization, you can probably gage their response to it by reading their statement on Fushek’s excommunication.

While I have plenty of problems with Life Teen’s methodology, it is pretty clear that Fushek’s dismissal does not reflect on  Life Teen at this point. However, it does raise other questions about the leadership of Catholic organizations and initiatives. When you take Fushek and Fr. Maciel together, you have a sense of what can happen when founding something goes to your head.  Lets be sure to pray for the renewal of humble and obedient leadership in the Church. Of course, let us not forget to pray for Mr. Fushek and his victims as well.



  • Francis

    Dale Fuschek aside, the Life Teen program has some great points, too. Teen outreach in parishes is a must. I have watched so many teens absolutely grow in their faith through the Life Teen program in our parish. It is an opportunity for them to articulate their own faith in front of their peers and to encourage each other in what otherwise might seem a very adult community of believers. The faith is the faith, but it must be communicated appropriately to each segment of the community. We don’t teach second-graders about the Eucharist in the same way that we teach older folks about the same topic. The young people that I know who are involved in Life Teen have really benefited from it.
    Are there problems? Sure, but there will be problems in any program for young people simply because they lack the maturity of adults.

  • SJG

    I certainly hate the thought of linking Life Teen itself to the scandal of Dale Fushek, but I have to say that my few experiences with Life Teen as a teen were totally repulsive to me. I don’t feel the need to go into too much detail, because there was nothing downright awful in the sense of being heretical or corrupt, but the approach Life Teen takes to catechesis of young people is just to give the happy-clappiest, watered-downest idea of the faith imaginable with a heavily Protestant feel.

    I remember learning from a Life Teen event that the “five” spiritual works of mercy were: Console the Sorrowful, Instruct the Ignorant, Counsel the Doubting, Forgive All Injuries, and Bear Wrongs Patiently. No mention at all of the Admonition of Sinners or to Pray for the Living and the Dead. In fact, now that I think about it, it may even have been that Instruct the Ignorant was left off, but “Pray for the Living and the Dead” was reduced to something like, “Pray for All Things”. Because, you know, it’s “unchristian” to suggest that people might be ignorant or sinful, and it’s “morbid” to pray for the dead.

    That’s the legacy of Life Teen, in my life at any rate. I don’t like it. And I don’t think it’s altogether coincidental that the men who started it were apparently corrupt to the core. Of course, I think it’s silly that catechetical programs feel the need to address teens AS teens, anyway. The faith is the faith is the faith… for teens as for seniors, for men as for women, for sinners as for saints. I don’t like the modern emphasis on turning the Church into some vehicle for identity politics.



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