Sunday, 28 April 2013
Abuse takes away everything.
The Indian Agent came into our home and told my mom and dad, ”She is old enough to go." I remember my dad putting up a fight and saying, “These are my children. They don’t have to go anywhere I don’t want them to go.” My dad was then threatened with going to jail and having the rest of his children taken away.
Mom and Dad had no voice. This was the first time I realized fear; I did not know what was happening or where I was going. I was five years old. Those first few days are burned into my memory. I can remember almost everything to that point. I remember thinking why me? crying, asking my parents, “Why do I have to go?”
The Indian Agent came and accompanied my dad and me to school. I remember when I got into the boat I turned around to look at my mom and she was standing in the doorway with a baby in her arms. She was crying. This is the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear residential school: crying. What my parents were witnessing was a part of them disappearing little by little.
I think I was there for three years however I’m not sure of the actual length of time. Whether it was a few months or a couple of years, when you are five years old and separated from your parents and siblings, time is forever. It is never-ending.
On our way to the school I remember checking out the river shores. The minute I got a chance, I was going to run away. I had big plans as to what I was going to do. Once we arrived at the school we went upstairs and into the parlour. There was a sister waiting there. The Indian Agent left and my dad stayed to answer questions. I just remember being so scared. I felt my stomach tighten; I did not know what was happening. I was scared to death. I did not want my dad to go, but I didn’t dare cry.
We said our goodbyes and my dad left. I have lived with that fear all my life. To this day I fear the unknown.
The first thing we did was put my things away. I had my clothes in a suitcase and I never saw my clothes again. They took me upstairs to the dormitories and I remember seeing all these toilets, sinks, soap dishes, and toothbrushes. They stripped me naked, ran a bathtub full of water, put me in the tub and scrubbed me hard. Years later I was thinking, what were they trying to do, scrub the Indian out of me? Then they dried me off. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. I was five and did not even know these words. I was totally naked in front of this sister and she was wiping me off.
Then the sister put these ugly bloomers on me. I hated those things! I had to put on a blue cotton uniform, stockings and brown shoes. Then the sister took me to another room where they proceeded to cut off my hair. I was devastated because I loved my long hair and my mom always had it in ringlets. I remember sitting on this high stool and having them chop away; it was an ugly haircut and looking down at my hair on the floor, I started to sob and she slapped me hard. I was terrified of that sister every time I saw her. The only sister I liked was Sister St. James.
They were French sisters. Our music teacher taught us how to sew, and by five years of age I was doing embroidery work. I still love doing embroidery work.
After they cut my hair, I don’t remember much. The first night I remember crying. There might have been eight of us in this one room in these little white beds. There were several little ones crying, and this sister came in and told us to be quiet and to stop our crying, we were not babies. But we were our momma’s babies. I remember being so terrified.
As a parent, in your mind you can hear your child crying, you can feel it in your heart. You know when something is wrong when you are connected to your kids.
I remember being in the classroom and I felt so lonely, I missed my family. I just wanted to go home, and that longing was painful. There was this red plastic car that belonged to one of my brothers and I brought it with me. It was the last thing I grabbed before I went out the door. This became the thing that connected me to my family and the life I had known before. I carried it in my pocket; it carried my tears and my loneliness.
One day I wasn’t paying attention to what the teacher was saying. I was playing with the car. I didn’t realize I was making the car sounds until Miss Brooke, the teacher, said “Who’s making that noise?” Everybody said, “It’s Patricia!” I got the strapping of my life and she took my little red car. I tried to grab it and she slapped me again. She put it into her drawer. I watched where she put the car because I planned on getting it back, but I never did. It was the one thing I hung onto from home. Mrs. Brooke kept me after class that day and I got it again. She hit me and by that night I was black and blue, and all puffy. I was never hit like this before. At home as a child I got a couple of spankings but not like this. This was a beating.
I remember her pulling my hair and telling me to get back in the classroom. “You are here to learn something. You are here to learn how to read, write and to spell;. You are not here to play with that toy.” I remember just sitting there frozen, scared. After that day, it was like going through the motions. I remember not feeling anything, just a void, for the rest of the year I was there. I hated school, being in that environment, those teachers were mean.
I was a good reader and speller.
I remember being in the dormitory one night, sitting up wondering what we were being processed for. We each got a number. That’s when I lost my name, I was no longer Patsy. My Mom and Dad always called me Patsy, but now I was number 100. When my name was gone that had quite the impact on me. When the teachers would come to the play room and they wanted to talk to you they would call your number, clapping their hands.
“Number 100!” I would get up and go see what she wanted. Then I would be taken upstairs because I wet my bed again from being scared. The sister would say, “What’s this again?” and I would get slapped hard. I had never experienced this from my Mom and Dad. This was when the new feeling of humiliation came in.
I was made to carry my wet sheets downstairs to show everybody what I did. This was done to anybody who wet the bed. How embarrassing! This is about shame. This experience impacted my life. I’m just starting to talk about this and these feelings.
I got frozen in time. I always thought there was something wrong with me. Sometimes I cry but my emotions are still twisted. I’ll ask myself what is wrong with me. When something happened to me in my life, I didn’t care, and that scared me. I couldn’t feel compassion because they did not have compassion for us.
We were not allowed to look at the boys at the school or speak our language. I remember this little girl and I were sitting in a corner. I could speak English a little better than her. She was talking to me in Indian. She was scared and there were big tears on her face. She wanted to run away. Then Mrs. Odess caught us. We were put in a room and had to sit there all day. This was my first experience of isolation. I’m not sure how long they kept us in there but I never spoke my language again.
My Dad spoke to us in English at home, but Mom always spoke the language. Today I can understand what they are talking about, but I have problems answering in the language. I’m trying to get the language back. I like going back to M’Chigeeng to visit my cousins; they all speak in Indian. When they are laughing if I can catch one word, I’ll know what they are talking about. I miss the language, I miss it everyday, and it brings back the feeling of my Mom and Dad. At home I’d lie in bed and I could hear them in the kitchen talking and laughing. I miss that. This is a longing I cannot describe. When I hear the language it brings back a flood of memories and feelings.
I got to go home when school was over; I do not remember going home for Christmas or Easter. Your parents could come and see you. My parents came twice during that year, my Dad once by himself and then again with my Mom. My parents seemed like strangers. I was broken. When I did go home it did not seem like I was at home. I felt like a stranger. I was the oddball. I had other brothers, there were new babies. I did not even know them. I just felt very different and nothing was the same. Going back never felt like home again.
When I went to school I experienced and witnessed mental, physical, emotional, sexual and cultural abuse by teachers and religious sisters. They stole my language, my name, my hair, my parents, my childhood and my identity.
Before the age of 5, I remember a lot of laughter, we were happy, carefree, and I was quite adventurous. My Dad worked in the lumber camps. He would build boats and sell them. My Mom stayed home and took care of us. Mom tried to live a traditional life but Dad would not allow her to.
It had to do with the church. The church was very involved at Sagamok; this had quite an impact on my parents and caused a lot of discontent between them. My Mom was from Manitoulin Island, M’Chigeeng First Nation (West Bay) and Dad was born at Wikwemikong. When I was a year old they transferred over to Sagamok First Nation.
My father was a good man, but what got in his way was alcohol abuse. He cared about his children. What tore my Dad apart was the day the Indian Agent came and told him and my Mother tbat I had to go the next day to residential school. Nobody spoke that day, Mom and Dad were real quiet and I heard them mentioning Shingwauk. I asked my Mom, “What is Shingwauk?” She said, “Oh, it’s a school, you have to go to school, but I think they are going to be sending you to Spanish.” Spanish was close to home, but to me it might as well have been a thousand miles away. We always traveled by boat. We lived across the river in Sagamok.
I remember my Mom and I would go for a walk, and she would tell me about her experiences at the residential school, Spanish. She told me she felt luckier than my Dad because she was only there for a short time, after she became ill. They did not want to take care of sick children so they sent them home. She developed scarlet fever and it damaged her heart. My Dad went to Spanish to the boys’ school; he was there till grade 8. He was there for 8 years, a long time.
I remember my Dad telling me a few things about his time at Spanish. It broke my heart. One particular time he answered someone in his language and the Jesuit Brother pulled him aside and slapped him as hard as he could along the side of his face by his ear. He remembered his ear popping and afterwards he was deaf, on that side of his head. He remembered something about his wrists being bound, and now I wonder about my dad being sexually abused. Why would they bind his wrists? My Dad would not go into that, so it’s just something I suspect. Eight years, what went on in that school? I’m just hearing the stories about it in these last few years. It’s devastating.
Both my parents understood how I felt. We shared a common experience but they felt powerless and they could not help me. I had no sense of belonging anywhere. When my Dad found out he had no power over how his children were going to be educated, he disenfranchised from the reserve. He gave up all rights in order to keep his children and moved off the reserve. Going to residential schools was like being kidnapped and the ransom was surrendering our native rights.
After the residential school my Dad moved us off the reserve. My first school was in Walford, Ontario. Our first house was by the cemetery. Moving into that house was the happiest day of my life. How excited I was! I did not have to go back to residential school, as long as we lived off the reserve. They could not come and pick us up or send us off. My dad could be violent when he was drinking, but I will always remember what he did to keep us together. His own family turned against him because he gave up the family farm on the reserve.
Later on, I was molested by two teachers and raped when I was 13. The sexual abuse happened mostly to the native women. My mother would tell me don’t go near those white men, they will do bad things to you. An incident happened at school and I could not tell anybody. I felt so utterly ashamed, I never told anyone. This teacher took me behind an old fashioned furnace that looked like a spider, and did what he wanted to do. I just stood there crying, ashamed. I could not tell anyone, I felt so dirty, I never felt like that before. I use to wish I was one of those white girls, so this would not happen to me. This was happening to me because I was native.
The teacher humiliated me. It seemed like it did something to my learning because I was not able to learn anything after that. Nothing would stay in my brain. I could read and write, but not do math. I had to stay behind after school and the teacher took advantage of me. It is just starting to wear off now. When I’m working with numbers that memory comes back.
I’m so happy that the government is recognizing the damages and our elders are working with us. A lot of us, I believe, are still stuck there. I just do not want to stay stuck so I go to these retreats; where we can talk about the past and not feel silenced. You can talk, cry, scream and understand each other’s pain. It is beyond me how the perpetrators could look at themselves in the mirror or sleep at night doing what they did to us. It has damaged whole generations.
My kids are affected because of the way I was. My husband drank a lot when we were young. I use to think, “Oh yeah, it’s party time.” I use to look forward to that. We did not have any parental skills. I raised my kids the way I thought was right. Instead of talking with them I would hit first and call them names. No one is calling my grandchildren names.
You are so busy raising your children you do not get a chance to pay attention to what they are doing. I never had interest in what they were doing, I just raised them. As long as they were fed, clean and went outside to play. Not being with my parents for only one year broke me. One day of residential school could break a child’s spirit.
After residential school I was very timid and shy. It’s been my experience that timid children are the ones being taken advantage of because they have been groomed. With my children I saw the shyness in them. They had no self esteem. That is what happens when you call them names instead of building them up. This is what I was doing to my children. This is what I had learned. My dad had learned the same thing; we lived in a real violent time. Children were never thought of as human beings or as a little person with feelings and emotions. Children were not allowed to speak.
I still struggle with being raised Catholic as I try to learn my own culture. I struggle with who I want to be or what I was meant to be. It is hard to break this mind control, the fear of going to hell.
I told a member of my family that I’m going to go back to my cultural ways and I am going to pray the way my people prayed. She said, “Pat, what about Jesus Christ, don’t you believe in him?” I told her, “No, I pray to the Creator now.”
She got quiet and I said, “What’s wrong?” Her response was, “I feel like someone in the family just died.”
After that, I could not sleep for weeks. I was wrestling with the same unworthiness that I felt at the residential school. I thought oh my God, what did I do, denying Jesus Christ. Now I am going to go to hell.
One of the elders said to me, “Pat, Jesus Christ -- God created him, he’s the same thing.” It is trying to connect those things. Jesus was a tribal man, maybe he was Anishnabe.
I look at the traditional elders and when they are praying, they are so deep into it. I have never seen a Christian that deep into prayer. The elders are totally absorbed, one with the Creator. I want that feeling, but something is blocked. When you are in nature you see it, you just have to look around and you see the Creator and all his Creation in constant communication. I feel it every time I come here, (Wharncliffe Farm)2 and I dread going back to the city.
This is reality; I feel so loved and connected to the earth mother. My spirit whispers, “I am here and here is home.” Surrounded by the support by all the other Grandmothers, I have never felt that kind of love in my entire life. But I have longed for it: the hope and the memory of love before I went to residential school.
Loneliness, fear, anger, abandonment were buried in my heart. I was silent and forgotten. You can park those feelings somewhere but you know those feelings are going to come back and you have to deal with them. That is what I am finding out talking with our elders and these other Grandmothers; you have to open up those feelings. Letting out the bad things. Lots of bad things happened to a lot of us. I was ashamed of being an Indian, I did not want to be an Indian, and I wished I was not born an Indian. Meeting the other Grandmothers I found comfort in discovering I was not alone in my shame.
I’m going to be 70 soon and I’m getting involved with my people, the elders. The future is coming and there is hope. I’m getting old now and I don’t mind. The healing is coming. My daughter is a social worker, my youngest son is an operation manager and paramedic on a reserve and my other daughter Connie has her own business. The kids are successful. The next generation is talking about college and university. My grandchildren are in high school and one of them is going to University. My life wasn’t such a failure. Life is good!
1 - For further information on Spanish Residential School contact the Shingwauk Project htp://www.shingwauk.auc.ca/welcome_index.html
2 – Wharncliffe Farm – http://www.grandmotherslodge.com
& Anne Higgins
Parents of a survivor from St. Anthony’s School, Capuchin junior seminary – grades 9-12
My first contact with the abuse was two to three years before my son, Michael, came and told us. I met another mother at an afternoon retreat. She was sitting alone and I walked over and asked, “May I join you?” She blurted out she had just learned both of her sons were molested by someone they had trusted and invited into their home. All I could say was “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help you?”
She said, “The question is not what can you do to help me, but what can you do to help your son because I think he is one of the victims.”
Every Friday I would stop by and we would have our half hour where I would bring Mike some goodies and pick up his laundry. He looked forward to those times. Toward the end of his sophomore year, I began asking Michael what was going on and he said, “Nothing.”
Michael’s behaviour became worse when he came home the summer between his sophomore and junior year. He became a black character, wearing chains and black clothes, acting very solemn. He slept with a baseball bat under his bed. I disposed of three switch blades. He carried one on him constantly and later I learned the reason for this. He would wake up between two and four o’clock in the morning and go for a walk. He would walk the dog during those hours and come back home to sleep. His sleep patterns were erratic. Things continued to get worse. In his sophomore year his friend transferred to another school and Michael wanted to leave as well. Ray was emphatic about him staying and finishing his year. We have guilt feelings about not allowing him to change schools.
After Michael finished his year he came home and finally transferred to another school. I said, “Maybe you should never have been at that seminary.”
Michael said to me, “You are never to think any of this is your fault.”
In the fall he graduated, I retired from nursing and began traveling with Ray. We went to Omaha to visit family which was when I learned Michael had just attempted suicide. His sponsor in A.A. called the police who came and took all the guns out of our house and brought Michael to a facility called New House.
We got a scribbled note saying, “I am at New House -- call this number.” All sorts of emotions went through me at the time: fear, anger. I walked into the conference room at New House and saw my son looking beaten down.
I asked him, “What changed your mind about committing suicide?” He said, “The thought of you walking in and finding me with my head blown off.” I thanked him for that.
From there he moved into an alcoholic recovery place for eight weeks, and then to another place. In A.A. people would say to Mike, “You have been sexually abused,” and he would respond, “That could not be.” Around this same time the other mother called and asked me, “How is Mike doing?” I told her. She said, “Anne, both my sons and the Larson’s say Mike was one of the boys being abused by Fr. Van Handle and possibly one other priest.”
It had been a couple of years since this woman first spoke to me about the abuse.
She called Mike and said, “Okay Mike, it’s time to tell your folks.” We heard later that Mike took the call, then went outside, threw himself on the ground, and started kicking like a child, screaming and crying: “You son of a bitch.” But he still didn’t call us. Instead he got a job working at a gas station. He told a friend about the abuse and she said, “If you do not tell your parents, I will.”
Then something happened at his job and Mike was fired. Ray and I knew something was wrong with Mike, and finally he came and told me about the abuse. My only question was why it took him so long. He said he felt it was too obscene and it was so pervasive at the seminary. Each boy thought he was the only one until they made contact and told one another. I asked him if he had told Ray and he said, “I don’t think Dad believes me.”
I said, “Mike, I’m sure he does.” Ray was taken aback and did not know what to say at first. We decided on therapy. Mike was already a member of A.A. and another support group for abuse. I encouraged him to go to a professional. Years earlier, Mike had been in therapy because of his erratic behaviour at the seminary. The Friars had had him going to the therapist of his abuser. The therapy was probably a good thing but it got to the point he could not deal with the therapist because she reminded him of his perpetrator. This time it was a different therapist.
Mike was doing okay; he was pulling things together, holding down a job, going to school, transferring from college to university in pre-law for a law enforcement degree. One Saturday morning between 5 and 5:30 a.m., I heard the door click and Mike came in. I went to see what he wanted and he was white and shaking, I said, “Mike are you alright?”
He said, “No I’m not alright everything is shit.” Around that time two other victims had attempted suicide with cars. He had been out that night with a friend who left the seminary in his junior year. His friend was in bad shape and they had gone to the grounds of the seminary to visit the scene of the crime. One of the Friars came out and told them to leave immediately. This Friar knew they had both been talking to the Board of Inquiry.
Mike told me, “We went to the seminary and a memory flooded back.” He suddenly remembered a second perpetrator. He remembered going into his office and the door being locked behind him. He said, “It’s too awful -- I can’t tell you.”
I went and got paper and a pen and told him to write it. He wrote very fast. I said, “Do you want an envelope?” I gave him an envelope and he put the message in it and sealed the envelope. Then he put down his keys, lay down and went into a deep sleep. I called the therapist who was on the Board of Inquiry. She told me, “It’s going to be alright.”
Mike left and took the envelope away with him. No one has ever told me the content of the envelope but I know this incident was behind his need to carry a switchblade in case he was ever called back into that office. Mike has opened these issues and he has closed them. He told me recently he is keeping them closed. He finished his work at the University and moved to Colorado. He bought a piece of property and lived in the back woods. He dug his own trenches for his electrical, plumbing, septic tank and finished off a bachelor cabin. Developing this property was the most therapeutic thing he ever did. Ray went to help him and this was the beginning of their bonding. He has gone in and out of therapy, worked both as a probation officer and police officer in Colorado.
One of the best things that happened to Mike is his wife Amy. She supports him through the rough times. Mike is one of the bravest men I know, a spiritual and caring person while he works with some of the roughest and toughest individuals. Because of his own suffering he knows how to deal with them.
We kept going to church at the seminary for almost two years. Ray felt the need to continue to work within the structure of the church. It became physically draining and made me ill. For a long time I could not walk on the grounds of seminary without feeling a deep chill. Now I can go into church without any ill feelings but I had to stop going to mass because of feelings I had about the consecration. I would wonder where those hands had been.
It was time to get out. I had good support from my brothers and we all said thank God Dad is not here to see this. He was the Catholic strength in the family. Ray and I are cradle Catholics, Catholic educated, Jesuit university graduates. It was a difficult decision to leave the church but it was a relief, to be out from under the bonds of that control system. It makes me wonder why I stayed with it so long.
We put up a united front. If it had not been a mutual decision our marriage would not have survived. These decisions and the stress of what we went through can destroy health and families. Immediately Ray and I went into therapy and stayed there, at the expense of the Franciscans. We had an excellent therapist who understood the abuse issues, because she was also a victim. Our health was not so affected as some of the others. One mother got cancer, and others put on weight which caused heart and orthopedic problems. We were fortunate in that we supported and encouraged each other, until we felt our problems and issues were clear, and we had enough coping mechanisms to deal with all the triggers.
Spirituality is more natural now. I would make a wonderful traditional Navajo Others have invited me into their church but I have set my boundaries and I tell them I am not interested in pursuing another organized religion. They are all alike. This has offended some people but you have to take care of yourself.
Spirituality is not based on an organized religion. I know there is a greater being; I know there are blessings in my environment, there are things that man cannot possibly provide for me. Just being a good person, doing what I can for my fellow man, I think this is being a spiritual person. Feeding my family and my grandchildren are important to me. My relationship with every individual is a spiritual relationship.
To violate another’s trust is a great wrong. We sent our bright young boy away to high school at a Catholic seminary and got back a very angry, alcoholic, violent, streetwise young man.
In 1992 we found out our son Mike had been raped and sodomized by a Franciscan priest, Father Robert Van Handle, at a high school seminary in Santa Barbara, California. Mike had been acting out through alcohol and drugs; he was not brought up this way.
There were a number of other victims who had been abused at the seminary. The priests involved had formed a choir in order to have access to the kids. One couple of parents were negotiating with the Franciscans, trying to get them to send out a letter asking all parents to talk to the children to see if others had been molested. With added pressure by the parents, the Franciscans started to think it would be better to be part of this procedure but when they tried to oversee the letter to the parents, the lawyers got involved. These parents were well educated, influential people from good Catholic backgrounds. The Franciscans agreed to send the letter and have a meeting of the boy’s choir to talk to them about the abuse; they also arranged to have a psychologist and therapist attend the meeting.
Other members who went to mass at the seminary asked if they could go to the meeting, and the Franciscans agreed. This was their fatal mistake. At the meeting the parents spoke up as to what happened to their children and this put pressure on the Franciscans. They decided to have another meeting a month later. By this time it had grown into a full investigation. The head of the Franciscans said, “This is a surprise to us. If we had known we would have done something.”
A former rector of the seminary attended the next meeting and said the Provincial had sent a message, that he would come back in December and present a plan for an investigation. I said, “That is not soon enough.” What we wanted was for the Provincial to come and we would tell him what to do. We wanted some control over the situation. We had around twenty people come to the meetings and we drafted some plans. We had an outline of what we thought they should do. The result was an investigation by the Independent Board of Inquiry of St. Anthony’s Seminary. We presented this at the second meeting and the Franciscans took it back to the Provincial. The Provincial came to the third meeting and presented his plan which incorporated most of our demands. An investigation started in January 1993. The members of the Board of Inquiry were chosen jointly by the Franciscans and the greater community. The Board consisted of me -- a person from the greater community and a parent of a victim -- plus a lawyer, three therapists and a Franciscan from St. Louis, Missouri.
We first started meeting once a month on Saturday and Sunday but this was not enough, so we met from Friday to Sunday. We sent out letters to all the members of the former students of St. Anthony’s Seminary. Under pressure the Franciscans agreed to supply us with names of a couple hundred former students. We knew there were many more. They were not willing to assist us in getting more names, so we insisted on having access to their files. I went to their office and the files had disappeared -- they were hidden in a small store room. I went through the files and I was able to get over nine hundred names from the agreed time period. We were to go back to 1963 since this was the first year of reported abuse.
We sent out over nine hundred letters and as a result thirty-four students came forward saying they had been molested by eleven priests. This represented twenty-five percent of all the priests that had been assigned during this twenty-three year period from 1963 to 1987. The seminary had opened around the turn of the century and they closed it in 1987.
One abuse victim who didn’t come forward -- his wife did -- had submitted to an examination of his testicles in 1936. The Franciscans had examined his testicles to find out if they had dropped so he could be in the choir. This was a common trick of perpetrators: to examine the children’s testicles. Another person we sent a letter to had been terribly abused and was dying of AIDS. There were so many people that had their lives trashed, it was a horrible situation.
We thought we were bringing our son up in a very sheltered life. Instead we found ourselves involved in this mess. My feeling is the closer you are to the Catholic Church the more jeopardy you are placing your children in. Most of the victims were children of devout Catholics. This is how they got access to our children, by the priests being good friends to the parents and the parents thinking this is wonderful, and that the priest was setting an example to their son or daughter.
Richard Sipe has said clergy molestation or sexual abuse of children is a recurring mechanism. They molest the child and then it is twisted so the child thinks the only way to function is to become a priest, a recurring mechanism. They twist it around so the victim becomes dependent. They get entwined in this web with alcohol and drugs.
The Board of Inquiry was scheduled to release the report in October 1993, but the Franciscans would not release it because they felt it was not confidential enough. They claimed people could figure out who the participants and molesters were. They delayed the release of the report for a month and we had to redo it. Once they ran out of excuses and we had answered all their concerns, we kept the pressure on them to release the report.
The Franciscans agreed from the beginning they would not influence the report other than asking for confidentiality. This was the only condition they could hold up the release of the report. The Board insisted the report and the investigation be made public. I was able to get publicity about the delay because of their objection.
In November of 1993 we did release the report, at the same time the Grand Jury in Santa Barbara was deliberating an indictment against Michael Jackson. All the media from around the world, the TV stations, radio, newspapers were camped at the court house in Santa Barbara waiting for that indictment to come down. When they were informed the Board of Inquiry report was going to be released, they moved over and followed our story. We would have never have gotten the publicity we did if not for Michael Jackson. The Franciscans were furious. We made headline news around the world. The Provincial of the Franciscans told one of the other board members that if he was to do it over again he would not have Ray Higgins on the board and he would have become more personally involved.
I’ve always been a fighter. When something is not right then I try to right it. My original thought when I found out about the abuse was that I wanted to catch their attention so they would take care of things. I felt I was helping them. Then I found out I was not helping them and that they did not want any help.
Anne and I received therapy for a long time. If the victims hired a lawyer in order to receive a settlement the Franciscans ended the therapy. We were one of the few couples where this did not happen. They were afraid of us, because we got so much publicity. We stayed Catholic and went to church for about a year. Finally I came to the conclusion we were all brainwashed. I believe all Catholics are brainwashed from the cradle. The last time Anne and I went to mass was on Christmas Day in San Antonio, Texas. It turned out the pastor of this parish was a child molester.
There is a big feeling of freedom when come to the realization you no longer are under their influence. You break their program of mind control. I was no longer Catholic and I no longer wanted to be. Anne and I have changed California laws by lobbying in Sacramento to strengthen the child abuse laws. We joined an organization called the Legislation Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse. We were surprised the Clergy did not have mandatory reporting of child abuse like doctors, nurses, teachers, therapist and everybody else. We got someone to sponsor a bill to make the clergy mandatory reporters. We did not get any opposition to it except from the Catholic Church. They did not support the law because it did not protect the seal of confession: information from a confession could not be reported.
In around 2000 I became a consultant for an attorney in Santa Barbara who had a case against the Franciscans. They were being snowed by the use of terminology, Canon Law. The law firm representing the Franciscans were making everything mysterious and hierarchal, using terminology to confuse them as to what the church structure of the church was. I was hired as a consultant for the other side. There was a statute of limitations stating that none of the perpetrators could be prosecuted. The lawsuit I consulted with was for a victim who was a younger man. I was able to assist the attorneys in cutting through the mysterious terminology and restrictions based on Canon Law. The client agreed to settle for 1.7 million dollars.
California law opened a one-year window of opportunity for child sexual abuse lawsuits by victims who were outside the statute of limitations. This ended up in a number of attorneys contacting me to act as a consultant for their firms. Part of my fee as a consultant was donated to an organization called LINKUP representing survivors of clergy abuse.
Realizing how important therapy was to our family, eventually Anne and I decided to set up a trust fund -- The Therapy Trust for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse. Anne and I paid for the administration and legal fees, with 100% of the trust fund going to provide therapy.
Parents need to support and believe their children. It is beyond me when parents do not support their children. If the child had an injury or disease they would support them but when it comes to a child that has been raped and sodomized by a priest, many parents cannot deal with it because of their own Catholic mind control.
Saturday, 27 April 2013
Helen and Larry Rainforth
HELEN: In the 70’s for a long time we had heard rumors but since they did not involve our family, we did not get involved. My husband and I held the priest in such high regard.
In early September 1997, I went to a prayer meeting and as a group we were discussing bringing adorations and the rosary to the church. All the women there said they did not like the priest Norman Goodman. One of the women said, “I won’t talk to him because he abused my child.” A second woman said, “I thought mine was the only one.”
I walked out of the meeting. “This was supposed to be a prayer meeting and since you are evidently going to gossip, I’m leaving.” I came home and my entire family went to the country club to have a birthday dinner for our youngest son, Lance. Larry asked how my meeting went and I told him what the women were saying.
Lance went ballistic. “How dare you, how dare you tell those women not to keep talking, what right do you have to try to control this situation?” I was very upset with him for embarrassing me in public. I left and walked home. Later I told him never to do that again. That’s when I noticed a tear start to fall from his face.
LARRY: At the country club after Lance and Helen left. I asked our other son, “Am I to assume with the reaction Lance has given us that something might have happened to him?” He said, “Well Dad, I think probably Lance has got an issue.”
I went to see Lance and said, “You don’t need to go to work today -- it’s your birthday. I’m going to the store and I’m going to talk to your mother. Is there something I should know?”
Lance said, “Not only did it happen to them, the same thing happened to me and every other young man. I know what he did to me was inappropriate, it was nothing major but it was very inappropriate. It has been kept a secret by everybody. Everybody knows the man has done this for years, to us altar boys and who knows who else.”
Once I got to the store, I pulled Helen aside. We went upstairs to our warehouse and I told her what Lance told me. Helen said, “I’ll be damned, I’m going to kill that priest.” I said, “Hold on, let’s discuss this.” Then Lance walked in. Suddenly it was a reality.
As a family we had to address this and support our son. This was an answer to a lot of questions we had about Lance and the way he reacted to certain things. Now the problem was how to deal with it. Helen wanted to go over and confront the priest on the spot, but Lance said, “Please don’t do this.”
I said, “Wait a minute, right now as a family we have to make a decision. If we go forward with this, which we are going to do because we could not live with ourselves if we did not, let it be known that from this day forward our lives, will never be the same in this community. We will go forward as a family, and whatever happens will happen.” I said to Helen, “You need to think a few minutes before you react.”
HELEN: I decided to go to the rectory. In Lincoln we had two rectories for the same church, because the priest lived alone. He would not let anybody live with him because of the things he had going on in the rectory.
At the second rectory there were two associate pastors living there and I went beating on that door. The priest I wanted to speak with was on the telephone and another priest from Indiana answered the door. This priest asked me if he could help me and I told him I would wait for the other priest. As I sat there everything became very uncomfortable. I said, “Maybe you can help me. I am considering going across the street and killing the son of the bitch over there. You better know what he is doing.”
These two priests decided to write out everything I was saying. They knew that this was going to end up in the hands of the lawyers which was the last thing our family wanted.
I went back and spoke to the other two mothers that had told me about the abuse. I told them, “We have to get to the Peoria Dioceses immediately. They are going to want to know they have a pedophile priest who is in charge of all these kids, and they are going to want to get rid of him immediately. So we will go over there and have a meeting to help them figure out how to deal with this.”
That was about the dumbest thing I could have ever said. They had hidden him there because he was a money man. He was making more money for the diocese out of his church than anyone else.
We started this process with John Myers1, the Bishop of Peoria. Today he is the Arch Bishop of Newark, New Jersey. They are dealing with the same problems in Newark as they are in Peoria. According to the newspapers he is still shuffling and hiding priests. The other persons involved were the Vicar General, Monsignor James Campbell who is now dead, and Monsignor Steven Rohlfs2, who is now head of formations in Emmetsburg, Maryland, training the seminarians. These three men did everything to let us know from the beginning, that they would discredit and ruin the lives of the young men that came forward. They would do the same to the parents.
Bishop John Myers even commented that he would eventually own two candy stores. We have two retail businesses, one in Peoria and the other in Lincoln, Illinois and he was saying he would own them unless we shut up.
When this started, strange things were taking place. We were followed wherever we went. We received harassing phone calls, and anybody helping us was being wiretapped. We were being watched, and they were trying to destroy us as business people.
Thousands upon thousands of dollars were spent trying to silence us. Once we knew they had private investigators on us we hired our own private investigator from Chicago. We started meeting people and uncovering how severe this situation is.
We started out with three young men and once it hit the newspaper it swelled immediately to thirteen. It went from three to thirteen men in a matter of days. Lance was the last one to get involved. He was asking for absolutely nothing -- he just wanted this exposed and the priest removed.
The legal team from the diocese started contacting Lance and asking what it would take to satisfy him. Lance said, “Why are you calling me? I don’t want anything, I want you to take care of your problem and leave me alone.” They kept bothering him, realizing our family had the biggest voice. They could not figure out why we did not hire a lawyer. We were not interested, we just wanted justice done. We wanted the Church to get rid of the perpetrators and start being accountable.
Accountability is all we wanted from anybody in the administrative level of the Catholic Church. This is what we still want today. Fifteen years later it is still not happening. They were trying to figure out the fastest way of pay everybody off. Finally Lance said, “I’m going to have to join the case.” He became number thirteen.
We did not play the legal game the way everybody wanted us to. We just kept going at them. We made a decision not to join any organization because we did not want any labels thrown at us. The first thing Bishop Myers said was that the whole thing had started because these young men belonged to a French organization called Roman Catholic Faithful3. These boys had no idea what Roman Catholic Faithful was.
This was when we made the decision not to belong to anything. This was our family going forward helping anybody we can possibly help. We became facilitators. We hooked this person with this person, and that was the key. We were given a lot of grace from God along with access to the computer and internet. With these tools everything started to unravel and once things started to come undone the stench was bad and the rats ran to the corners.
Now they don’t know how to get out of the corners, so the rats are still there in the form of the Catholic hierarchy.
Every diocese has problems. To this day the Peoria diocese is still moving these perverted priests from parish to parish. If you call the Peoria diocese and ask for information on a priest they will direct you to their legal team, but their legal team will never return your call. The Bishop, the Vicar Generals and their legal teams are knowingly harboring fugitives and pedophiles.
I feel the cover up is worse than the crime. The crime is done by a sick individual and the cover up is done by even sicker individuals.
We just kept going after Myers and Rohlfs. Six weeks after we made a report, Norman Goodman flees town. After thirty five years. They put it in the bulletin. They said it was because he loved his congregation so much he did not think he could go through having a retirement party. It was best for everybody if he just left, so there were no goodbyes. This immediately fanned the flames and everybody knew something was wrong.
The diocese sent the Vicar General, Steven Rohlfs here. Rohlfs had been an altar boy for Norman Goodman. He got up in front of the congregation and said Norman Goodman was leaving because of health issues. He wanted us to know they will never be able to find a priest half as good as this priest who dedicated thirty-five years of his life to Lincoln, Illinois. Later, he denied ever saying this.
He came back again and threw more fuel on the fire, telling us what a great guy Goodman was. I contacted him and told him our parish needs closure in regard to what happened. I told him, “You’ve got to be accountable for what you say from the altar to this parish.”
He said, “I can say anything I want to say. I was an altar boy under Norman Goodman and he was a little funny and he did kind of funny things, but I never took them as being sexual.” I asked him to repeat that and he said, “He did strange and odd things but I never thought they were anything perverted or sexual.”
I said, “I think you have said enough.” That was the end of our conversation.
The diocese got Rohlfs out of here and moved Myers to Newark, New Jersey. They were both moved up the ladder. They sent another bishop to the Peoria diocese and in eight weeks he got rid of eight priests. These priests were not defrocked but they removed their collars and asked them not to have a public ministry. Very few priests get laicized. Most are asked not to wear the collar or hold public masses.
After fourteen years, Norman Goodman still comes back to this community a minimum of three times a week and drives around intimidating the young men. He never went to jail or had a criminal trial, even though there was a minor involved. The diocese did everything in their power to keep him out of jail. The State’s Attorneys were too scared to charge him criminally. A State’s Attorney told a group, “We all know he did it, it has been proven without a doubt he did it, but we’re not touching it. It’s not good for our careers.”
We hired a lawyer out of Springfield, Illinois, who had a reputation to take anything and everything.
Lance put together a case that was undeniable. When they went into mediation in Chicago they went against one of the top law firms in Chicago, forty-four lawyers sitting on one side of the table and two on the other. They had a mediator who was head of the law school at Duke University, and Bishop Myers. The first thing the Defense said to the survivors and their families was, “How dare you go against the Church?”
It is our Church and not only are we going against it, we are purifying it. We are doing what the Lord has asked everybody to do, purify His Church. It’s not their Church, it is our Church. Second, we were told that they would try to suggest the abuse was our fault, or it is morally the family’s fault. Somebody in the family is an alcoholic, or from a broken home, so all the guilt and blame point straight into that household.
In Dallas, Texas there was a Vicar General that said the age of sexual consent was six years old. Any child six years old and older knew what was happening and could have stopped it, if they wanted to, so it is considered to be consensual. I read this in the newspaper and I contacted the diocese to clarify this statement and they told me, “The man who said this is now retired.” I was provided with his phone number so I called him. I told him I wanted to confirm something that was just written in the newspapers that he had said.
On the phone he said, “That is absolutely factual. In the Catholic Church the age of consent is six years old. After six years old a child can make any decision he wants to.” This was truly his belief, and I don’t need to tell you what I called him.
The lawsuit was like David versus Goliath. There were over forty lawyers representing the Peoria diocese, all making over $400.00 an hour. There was Bishop Myers, Norman Goodman, the attorneys for the Peoria dioceses plus the Chicago and canonical lawyers.
That was in 1998, December 22nd and 23rd. The mediator offered Lance a scholarship at Duke University to become an attorney because he had out lawyered everybody sitting in that room. They brought in Norman Goodman and the youngest of his victims, who was in his mid-teens. He went to the washroom and Goodman, his perpetrator, walked in. The defense pulled every mental strategy they could.
Once we got beyond the mediation, the years that followed became more intense, because we would not stop. The Bishop kept saying, “What will make them stop, what more do they want, we mediated everything, what more do they want?” We just kept uncovering and uncovering, meeting the right people, and uncovering more.
From the mid 1990’s to mid 2000’s the Church lost control of the situation. They will never get back the respect and the control they once had. I believe Pope Benedict is trying to do everything he can; he is reaching out to social media. The Bishops are saying, “Don’t turn on your computer, if you get on the internet you are going to Hell.” The Holy Father is saying, “I’m going into social media.”
HELEN: People have asked me, “Do you think you have made a difference?” After fourteen years, I don’t see how that question can be asked by anybody who has been involved with these issues. We are nowhere near where we were in the 1970’s.
As parents we should have seen this. We didn’t know what we were looking for, but then in the 80’s and 90’s everything started coming out. In the beginning nobody knew what to do and everybody had to go with their gut reactions, some of which were right but some decisions were wrong. Very few families could get through this as a family unit; you have to trust each other 100%. You have to have more faith than you had when you started. It is not the same type of faith. People try to deny by closing their eyes and ears. It makes you uncomfortable but it also makes you a stronger person.
LARRY: We knew the day we decided to go forward, our lives would never be the same. We would never be looked at in this community in the same way. As weeks passed we were still going to church. We had always sat in the back pews but from that day forward we sat in the front. We walk to the front of the church every Sunday and sit where everybody in the church can look at us. We’ve been doing this for fourteen years.
When I go to church, I don’t focus on anybody else; I know some of the people look at us in anger and some with respect. Some people cannot look at us because they had children that were abused; they told their children not to say a word and they did not want to get involved. There are some new parishioners who do not know what happened at our church. The priest, one of the Bishop’s boys, does not think much of us. I told him we go to church every Sunday for the purpose of praying to the Lord. If it was not for what is in the tabernacle, the blood and bread of Jesus Christ, I would not be in church.
I know when I walk into the church I walk in truth, I want everybody in this church to remember why we are walking to the front. I will do this as long as I am alive and able to. I do not want anyone to ever forget why.
There have been other young people after the original thirteen came forward, and other settlements made by the Peoria diocese. We believe there are a minimum of over a hundred and fifty young men involved.
Our lawyer gathered sixty-six depositions of young men who said, “Oh yeah, it happened to me but I’m not going any further than this deposition, so leave me out of it. I will tell you my story but it will go no further.” When Goodman left here he was sixty-nine years old and had been at this parish for thirty five years. One of the questions asked of our son was: do you have any documentation that this has happened to you? He said, “It’s in the bulletin. When I was to serve as a server, my assignment was always printed in the bulletin. Every one of these men is documented in the archives of this church. ”
After that, they stopped printing the altar boys names and serving schedules and got rid of all the archives.
Goodman had access to the kids all day long because the church was attached to the school. He would pull them out of the classroom. When he first came to this community he was a Boy Scout leader and strange things have happened to every boy involved while he was overseeing those scout groups. This information comes to us from the lawyer who took the case.
Young men would come to our home and they would say, “So and so says nothing ever happened to him. The heck it didn’t! He and I were altar boys together and we both went through the same situation. Of course it happened to him, I saw it happen.”
This was the situation for many of the altar boys. It fanned out so far and wide over many years. They looked around the room and there was only thirteen here and they knew they had a total of sixty-six depositions. These men went out and tried to get others to come forward, they encouraged others to tell their story without using their names. They wanted to get the stories down so the lawyer could get the background information as to what happened over this time period.
The irony is before Goodman came to town there was another generation, and another priest molesting kids. This church became a melting pot for perpetrators. We started tracking some of the people we knew who had been here. At first we thought this is the only melting pot in the diocese but we went to another town and it was another melting pot. It appeared this diocese had certain areas where they sent their pedophile priests, and we uncovered six of them. Every time there was a problem that person went to one of these spots.
We need to get the Bishops locked away for hiding pedophile priests; they have to be made accountable.
We trust no one, now you have to earn our trust. We no longer call anyone Bishop, Cardinal, or Father, they have to earn that. I do not call John Myers “Bishop Myers” -- I do not think he deserves that title. Or George, Cardinal George. They have not lived up to the title of the position they are in.
A lot of money changes hands to get to these levels. The elevation should be from a spiritual contribution they have made. The good spiritual priests are out working everyday; they do not want these positions. All they want to do is shepherd their people and do the right job by helping them. You have two different groups in this diocese, the good old boys – the Bishop’s boys -- who get all the plums because they play the political game. And then you have the men who are the worker bees.
We had lawyers for a year. As parents we did not want to be involved in the lawsuit. It was debated and we said, “Absolutely not. They will try to place a gag order on whoever settles. They can no more gag us, then they can fly. We are going to talk and tell everything we need to tell till we die.”
I believe this situation has cost us personally well over one hundred thousand dollars of our own money. We have made trips to Rome to meet with canon lawyers, hired private investigators to assist these young men to come forward without hesitation, taken time off work, gone and helped survivors and taken them wherever they needed to go. People say survivors are taking money from the Church, but they don’t know what they are talking about. The money coming out of the Church goes to their lawyers. Few people realize these dioceses are insured.
How can you insure a priest or a diocese for pedophilia? It is the insurance money which pays the victims, not the diocese. Their lawyer fees are financially breaking the church.
After mediation, they finally settled the claim and the lawyer told the survivors, “You have a gag order. You can’t sell, tell, write or talk about this story again. If you do we are going to take a percentage of this settlement back.”
Lance said, “Go ahead and do that right now, because I’m talking, and you are not going to stop me from talking.” We were later contacted and told that a hit had been put out on our son.
We had to figure out how we were going to handle this. We were advised to go immediately to the media. Helen and Lance went to Peoria and got on television and did a news interview. They documented everything and some of the things that were happening to us stopped, because we told it on television. Lance made a local television commercial showing a priest in a playground and warning parents about child abuse.
We called our insurance agents and told them if our business or homes should burn, if we were in an automobile accident or any other strange things happened to any of our family members, they should not take it at face value, since there were threats being made against us by people in our community.
Lance was driving a Chevy Blazer and he would take this vehicle to Peoria every day on the interstate going seventy to seventy five miles per hour. One day Larry was driving that vehicle on a side road at approximately twenty miles an hour and the left wheel fell off. We told another family who told us their son’s car left wheel fell off the same weekend he flipped his car. What are the chances having two families involved in the same lawsuit and two vehicles with their entire left front wheel coming off the car?
Sugar was put in their gas tanks. They lived in a rural area and many nights they would be followed home. It was frightening. We believed we were in danger. There was a lot of intimidation and threatening phone calls.
HELEN: Lightning hit a tree and sent a fireball into our house. The night before that fire, two priests had spent the night at the house. The day after the fire, Lance and I ran into Norman Goodman who said, “I told God to set your house on fire and so He did.”
Lance said, “No, God doesn’t work that way, your buddy is not God.”
I confronted Goodman at the post office. He became agitated and asked, “Why are you doing this to me? Did your Virgin tell you to do this to me, your precious little Virgin Mary; is she the one that told you to do this?”
I said, “No. The first innocent child you touched is the reason why this is happening to you.”
His eyes rolled back and his voice got very hoarse and he said, “Maybe they weren’t innocent.” That was Satan talking!
Today Norman Goodman lives in Pekin, Illinois across the street from a park and two blocks from a school. He still wears his Roman collar and goes to the nursing homes and solicits the elderly telling them he needs money. Goodman was raised a Methodist, became a Certified Public Accountant and then a priest. Where else do you have access to money and children, but the Roman Catholic Church?
Goodman regarded himself as God, he would leave notes saying, “Been here and missed you, sorry -- God.” He signed all his notes “God.” He did not respect his position, he loved the money and he was a money guru.
My advice to other families and survivors, you have to realize these men are nothing; you can’t get caught up with their titles, Father, Bishop or Cardinal. You are fighting against the perpetrator and the person who enabled them. Once we took away the title it is easier to fight. In the case we fought, there was a young man who is labeled schizophrenic, and he was the first one to tell his story to the lawyer. He said, “I will describe what Norman Goodman did to me.”
At that moment all the young men started calling him “Norman Goodman.” You remove all titles and the guilt goes away. As a mother you think you should know everything and as a father you think you should protect your son. Something like this becomes a blame game. “Why didn’t you see it?”
We heard about a young man who told his mother what Father Goodman did to him at Carroll Grade School. Goodman was fondling him and so on, and this mother said to her son: “Well, he is a lonely man and he probably just needs that, so just go ahead and let him do it.”
When the father heard about this, things at their dinner table got bad really quick. That Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was the topic of discussion in the community.
LARRY: We had a mailman who had five boys. He used to say “It’s all about the money.” I said, “What you need to think about are your five sons.” His response, "It didn’t happen to them.” I said, “You need to ask them.” I left it with him; to this day he puts his head down and runs.
Goodman abused two or three of that mailman’s sons.
Helen has young men many with different life problems come to her, they know our store is a safe house.
HELEN: The first thing I would advise new people who are coming forward regarding abuse is to get a hold of older people that have been through the process. This was invaluable to us.
Bishop Myers asked me, “How do you get your information and how do you know these things?” I said, “Oh, I pray to the power of the Holy Spirit,” and I told him perhaps he should do that.
Instead of turning and running from the Lord, bring Him closer because this is where you will get your knowledge and strength. There is only one way to get it and it is from God. The first reaction is to try to fight these men by yourself, but instead you have to embrace the Lord and let Him fight these characters.
Many people have asked me, “How can you keep going to church?” I respond, “How can you not, you need to go there now more than any other time, I do not need anything but what is in the tabernacle.”
I just hope people don’t lose their faith, their purpose in life. It is understandable these hurting individuals cannot go back into the actual building but they can still have God in their heart. They can have Him right next to them, where they need Him to be. Our son does not participate in church, he tells us, “I can’t go back into this church, and do the Sunday to Sunday stuff, but believe me I have a tremendous belief in the Lord.”
A year before the case broke; I had a huge religious experience. I was a cradle Catholic and thought I knew everything there was to know about Catholicism. I went on religious pilgrimages to Medjugorje in Bosnia, and what happened there deepened my relationship with the Lord. I spent a year gaining knowledge about my faith and I fell in love with my faith and in the Lord.
Looking back, if I had not solidified my relationship with God I would have been one of these people that left the church. It was this true spiritual happening that kept me going and doing pilgrimages, to France, Bosnia and to Pennsylvania. In Lourdes, France there was a third Fatima secret which was to be released in 1960 and the church prevented it from being released. It is my belief the third secret was the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
When we started uncovering this scandal in Lincoln, Illinois, we found out the Bishop of Springfield is a perpetrator. They got rid of Bishop Ryan. Then it became Lincoln, Springfield, Belleville, Joliet, Chicago and St. Louis. We had the information regarding the sexual abuse between Chicago and St. Louis and we could tell you about every priest. Then Boston explodes, Dallas had already exploded, and everybody found out what an awful person Cardinal Law is, and it just went on and on and on, there was Mahoney, New Mexico, Mexico. Canada was ahead of us and Ireland exploded.
Strength is a key to tell the new people coming forward. Pick up the strength that you don’t know you have because you are going to need it. People are going to try to intimidate you; you are going to lose friends and family members. My brother wanted nothing to do with our family because we were harming his Church, and fourteen years later he still does not have anything to do with us. You are going to lose along the way but you are going to gain so much more than what you have lost.
We have two personal letters from Cardinal/Pope Ratzinger stating his recommendations, asking us not to stop and recommended Cardinal George to help us with this situation. Cardinal George has done nothing to help us. You can’t even get in for an appointment. I believe the Pope is surrounded by awful men, I don’t think he is in control of the Papacy and he is only a figurehead. Nobody knows what the outcome of this is except the Lord.
If uncovering and exposing this abuse is not the work of the Lord every one of us would have stopped a long time ago. Every one of us would have said it’s not worth it and backed away, we are stronger spiritually today than ever but it has taken a toll on my family. We believe in living by example.
One of the victims was asked, “What would it take to get these men back into the church.”
What he said was, “What you can do is what has not been done, get on the altar and tell the truth. Until this is done you will never have a prayer of getting most of these men to come back to the church.”
The irony of this is, in the mediation which took place in Chicago there was a contractual agreement with Bishop Myers and this group of men there would be an announcement from the altar and an apology would be made with full disclosure. The diocese never fulfilled this obligation, and to this day nobody has apologized. In private the Bishop said he was sorry to these men, but he has yet to get on the altar and apologize to the community and congregation. The diocese never wanted the congregation to know what truly happened, because of many other cases that would have come forward.
Larry went to confession in Rome and during the confession he told the priest we were not getting any results from the diocese. They were not being accountable for the abuse that has happened in our country. This priest said to him, “It will never happen; we will apologize for nothing.”
Larry told the priest, “This confession is over and I’m out of here.” He got up and left the confessional.
The original thirteen who came forward continue to have ups and downs in their lives. The diocese tried to say they were an organized group of men. They were all different ages ranging from fourteen to forty years old; some knew each other and others did not. Some were at school, college, others were working, some were married, and others were single or divorced. They all met for the first time at the hearing, they looked at each other and some said, “I thought I was the only one.”
We have a ten year old grandson, and as a parent or grandparent the first thing you say is, “If they harm one of mine, I will kill.” You want to, you plot it but you don’t do it. You have to put all your trust in God, because you cannot handle this on your own.
1 Bishop John Myers - http://www.rcan.org/archbish/jjm/jjm-bio.htm
2 Monsignor Steven Rohlfs - http://www.msmary.edu/presidents_office/university-officers/Msgr_Rohlfs.html
3 Roman Catholic Faithful - http://www.romancatholicfaith