Over the past few days we have heard of seminarians being bullied, including sexually bullied in seminaries.
CORK PRIEST – SEMINARY BULLYING LED TO SIUICIDES.
By Claire O’Sullivan Irish Examiner.
A LETTER has been sent to the president by a Co Cork priest informing her that “vile, cruel and oppressive” bullying in Irish seminaries led to numerous suicide attempts by student priests.
The priest, who has long called for greater transparency around clerical sex abuse, told President Mary McAleese that “abuse as reflected in the Ryan Report is not confined or limited to children in religious institutions in Ireland”.
He has sent a similar letter to the Vatican. “I studied in a Roman Catholic Seminary in Ireland from and the culture that prevailed there was vile, cruel and oppressive.
Emotional and psychological abuse was the norm and those who abused their authority realised fully that they were unaccountable and above the law.
Towards the end of my time there I was duly called in and told in no uncertain terms that I was to keep my mouth shut and take what I knew to my grave,” he said.
“When left that seminary system I realised that many would not have endured what I had to endure. I concluded that it would be a matter of time before some one would commit suicide,” he said.
The Co Cork priest informed her he knew of one victim at a seminary who attempted suicide and “left a number of suicide notes for members of his family, but the Church authorities never passed them on”.
He claimed in a letter that another priest, who had been bullied in the seminary, succeeded in committing suicide, but there was never an internal inquiry at the seminary.
“I suffered profound ill-health as a result of what I personally experienced and witnessed. Nobody was prepared to do anything about the abuse that prevailed. Even to report it to professors they were powerless to do anything about it. ….
The reality for many sadly was that the Church structure and system was not a safe place.” In the letter, the priest thanked the president for her public statement on the Ryan Report. “I am in no doubt but that your words of wisdom provided great reassurance to the unfortunate victims who were subjected to humiliating and degrading abuse and torture at the hands of their cruel oppressor who profess to be acting in the name of God, religion and Church. It was a shocking revelation for many but for the victims it was final confirmation of their reality,” he said.
MICHAEL DEEGAN TOOK HIS OWN LIFE IN THURLES SEMINARY.
An Irish priest serving in England is deeply concerned because, during his time there a fellow seminarian, Michael Deegan RIP, committed suicide in 1994 in St Patrick’s College, Thurles.
The priest, as a seminarian, had heard from Michael that he was being bullied and stalked by homosexuals within the seminary.
These people were putting gay pornography under Michael’s door during the night.
The priest brought the pornography to the college authorities.
Nothing was ever done and poor Michael took his own life.
In the case of Thurles and Michael Deegan he was being sexually stalked and harassed in his first year – when our English priest friend say the abusive material on his bed and took him to complain to Father Fogarty. That was 1991. He died in his third year when he was 20 going on 21.
CRISIS IN MAYNOOTH. FORMER THURLES SEMINARIAN DESCRIBES SERIOUS BULLYING.
Crisis in Maynooth: Former Thurles seminarian describes ‘serious bullying’
Sarah MacDonald August 08 2016 02:30 AM
A former seminarian at St Patrick’s College in Thurles has told of the severe physical and mental abuse he endured while studying at the seminary.
‘James’ told the Irish Independent of the bullying he endured at the seminary – including one incident where he had a bucket of dirt thrown over him by two people wearing balaclavas.
Outlining for the first time in full his experiences of physical and mental abuse almost 25 years ago in the seminary, as he embarked on what he thought was the path to priesthood, he said, “As I now recall that year, I feel so much pain and horror for what I experienced.”
“When I entered [the] seminary, I was living with over 100 students and priests and lecturers.
“These priests were there to guide us on our journey to ordination and help us discern what we truly wanted out of life. They would be our leaders, spiritual directors and brothers within whom we would place our trust and always be confident that they cared for our wellbeing,” he said.
However, instead he was subject to bullying and wrongly accused of a criminal act, which his accuser later admitted was a lie – but ‘James’ never received an apology from the college.
“The time for secrets has ended,” he stated.
The former seminarian revealed how he was forced to dress up in women’s clothes for a college variety show called ‘The Henry’ within the first week of entering the seminary in order to entertain the college president and the seminary’s priests.
“I was forcefully encouraged to put on a lady’s dress and wig and go out on stage and sing like that.
“I was absolutely mortified and hated every moment. While standing on the stage, some other students got a long pole with a hook on it and tried to rip the dress off me. I got so upset, I ran off the stage to the laughter of everyone present.”
His second memory of feeling shocked was the medical examination that all first-year students had to take within the first two weeks of arrival.
In the infirmary, the doctor was waiting for him.
“I thought I knew what to expect. The regular checks of blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, etc, were all done and I was getting a clean bill of health.
“But what followed was a shock. I was instructed to drop my trousers and underpants. I immediately questioned this. I was told by the doctor to just do what I was told. Once everything had been removed, the doctor immediately went about feeling my penis, something I had never experienced in my life to that point.
“I was now very scared and horrified. I did ask the doctor why he was doing it. He became very abrupt with me and said that it was normal practice for any student who wanted to be a priest. They had to ensure that I was a fully functional male so that, I, the student could fully understand and appreciate what I was giving up by taking on the rule of celibacy.
He further stated that this was in accordance with canon law. For me, it was a total intrusion of my privacy and almost a stripping away of what I held dear, my dignity.”
Other unhealthy, boarding school-type pranks constituted bullying, he believes. They included removing all his possessions and personal belongings from his room and dumping them elsewhere, which led to the breakage of a personal photograph of his late grandmother who had passed away just two weeks after he entered the seminary.
On another occasion a bucket of muck and dirt was thrown over him as he rang the bell for the six o’clock Angelus by two people wearing balaclavas.
“No one would help me, these future priests just laughed, saying ‘Ah, it was your turn this time’.”
The final straw came when he was accused of stealing money and questioned by a member of the local Gardaí. His accuser later admitted fabricating the story when ‘James’ confronted him.
The other seminarian said he felt so bad about it that he had considered taking his own life. ‘James’ told the dean of formation that the man was feeling suicidal and the student was put under 24-hour watch and later removed from the college.
“These events were truly the beginning of the end of my dream to become a priest. It killed my faith in people and destroyed what I had always held dear.
When people talk about abuse, I am constantly aware that abuse comes in many different forms, not always sexual. But it is the secrecy and failure to acknowledge fault that is the most damning thing.”
Any happy memories of his year in seminary are tarnished by the “serious bullying” ‘James’ claims he endured.
He added: “[These people] believed they had a vocation. My wish is nothing like [this] happens anyone again.”
‘James’ spoke out after a former seminarian at Maynooth alleged last week that a member of staff harassed him. The man made a preliminary statement to the gardaí yesterday.
He said that he will continue with his complaint and provide a formal statement this week.
“They certainly felt that a couple of isolated incidents which I mentioned did warrant investigation by them,” he told the Irish Independent.
“I will be meeting them next week in person to provide a written statement concerning the above.”
He said that a priest who was meant to be his “spiritual father” acted inappropriately towards him on a number of occasions.
He said that his faith was “severely shaken” and he suffered from a severe depression.
CAVAN SEMINARIAN MENTAL BREAKDOWN DURING LEDWITH’S TIME IN MAYNOOTH.
During Micheal Ledwith’s time in Maynooth a very junior young seminarian from Cavan was found in the middle of a severe nervous breakdown in the college chapel.
He had been a victim of sexual bullying and seduction by other clerics in Maynooth.
His parents were sent for and he was packed home without any explanation.
WAS THIS A SUICIDE?
U.S. seminarian who carried cross at pope’s Easter Mass dies in Rome
ROME — Friends and fans called him a “gentle giant,” a faithful “prayer warrior” and a Clark Kent whose superman power was helping people grow in holiness and faith.
“I believe I truly knew a saint,” one friend wrote.
The written comments were among the hundreds of condolence messages, prayers and stories submitted to an “in memoriam” page on the RegnumChristi.org website for Legionary of Christ Brother Anthony Freeman of Houston.
The U.S. seminarian, who was a third-year theology student at Rome’s Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, died unexpectedly at the age of 29. He was scheduled to be ordained a deacon July 7 in Houston.
He was found dead in his room April 2 after classmates realized he had not joined them for a scheduled outing. The university called Italian authorities, who were still conducting an investigation and autopsy as of April 4 to determine the cause of death.
He’d had supper with the seminary community April 1 after serving as an acolyte that day at Pope Francis’s Easter morning Mass, carrying the cross in the opening procession.
“They usually pick the tallest person” to carry the cross to give it prominence, and “he was tall and strong and to bear the cross was very symbolic” in hindsight, Legionary Father Aaron Smith told Catholic News Service April 4.
This week we heard of Pablo who took his life after seminary abuse.
It would be good if someone could tell us Pablo’s story.
SEMINARIANS, BREAKDOWNS AND THERAPY / TREATMENT
I have personally spoken to a number of former seminarian who were very broken and damaged by seminary bullying, including sexual bullying.
Some of them needed medication. Some needed counselling. Some needed impatient treatment.
Some of them were sexually bullied by other seminarians.
Some were sexually bullied by seminary staff members.
Some of them will have to live for life with the repercussions of what happened to them.
And all this PURE EVIL happened because they decided to give their lives to God and the church.
All of this happened at the hands of those who claim to be servants of Jesus.
The only cure for all this is for every abused seminarian to make a formal complaint to the police.
And for each damaged seminarian to bring large civil cases against the church and priests involved.