Man opens up on alleged sex abuse from former Chicago priest known as ‘Father Happy Hands’


A man who says he was abused by a former Chicago priest known as “Father Happy Hands” told his story following a settlement last month.

Larry Kubbins, 60, held a press conference opening up about the alleged abuse by the Rev. Daniel Mark Holihan, who died in 2016, and had a message for survivors across the world.

Rev. Daniel Mark Holihan

“It’s been a weight I’ve had for almost 50 years,” Kubbins said. “They need to not be afraid to report it. I was not smart enough to listen to my mother and walked away from it.”

Kubbins alleges Holihan sexually abused him twice — once at Our Lady of the Snows and once at a lake house belonging to Holihan in Wonder Lake. During the alleged abuse, Kubbins and the attorney general’s office said children would call Holihan “Father Happy Hands.”

“He couldn’t keep his hands off boys, he took me to the boat and got me onto the lake,” Kubbins said. “He would get us behind the church, always pretending to straighten our alter boy uniforms and getting extremely close.”

In addition to Our Lady of the Snows, Holihan also worked at St. Patrick (1957-1965), St. Aloysius (1965-1968), St. Sylvester (1968-1969), St. Francis de Sales (1969-1973), St. Jane de Chantal (1973-1979), Our Lady of the Snows (1979-1990) and St. Jerome (1990-1991).

Holihan was ordained in 1957. In 1990, his ministry ability was limited with monitoring and the archdiocese removed his faculties to minister as a priest in 2002.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office said Holihan has 40 reported survivors.

According to a 2005 document written by Archbishop Cardinal Francis George, he decreed Holihan guilty and said “the accusations are so numerous against Father Holihan and the description of the actions are so clear that there can be no doubt that Father Holihan is guilty of the delict described.”

In 2005 Holihan was not laicized, which means officially removed from clerical duty, in what Cardinal George called “the ultimate penalty.” That happened in 2010, according to records.

“Because of the numerous offenses and the denial on the part of Father Holihan of what is so obvious to everyone else, I would be inclined to recommend dismissal from the clerical state in this case. However, given Father Holihan’s age and the face that it would be more dangerous to allow him out in public without being monitored carefully, I have decided not to ask for the ultimate penalty in this matter,” former Archbishop Cardinal Francis George wrote in the 2005 Archdiocese letter.

However, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office claims the archdiocese could have acted sooner.

“The Archdiocese of Chicago had more than one chance to stop Father Daniel Holihan from sexually abusing young boys. Holihan was an active pastor in several Chicago parishes until 1990 and is now known as one of the more notorious abusers in archdiocesan history. The archdiocese knew what Holihan was doing to children years before it removed him from the pastorate—but during that time, it did nothing to stop him, taking him at his word that he could turn over a new leaf of his own accord. And even after Hoder (the accused Rev. James Allen Hoder) resigned, archdiocesan officials sought to keep certain details quiet and established such lax control over his conduct that the priest was soon spotted socializing with children as if nothing had happened. More than a decade passed before the archdiocese finally decided to subject Holihan to strict monitoring. In the meantime, countless children had needlessly been put at risk,” the attorney general’s office wrote about Holihan.

Kubbins agreed with the attorney general’s office.

“He’s another example of the church knowing about him and then transferring him,” Kubbins said. “The Catholic Church got Father Holihan out of dodge every chance they could.”

Kubbins’ attorney said he reached a “low six-figure settlement” last month from the Archdiocese of Chicago related to the alleged abuse. His attorney said he has represented at least four other alleged victims of Holihan, who receive settlements as well.

The archdiocese told WGN News they do not comment on litigation when asked for a statement.

Resources for survivors for clergy abuse are available by visiting The Archdiocese of Chicago’s anonymous abuse hotline is 312-534-8300.

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