Over the weekend I received leaked information from a senior Meath priest who is very concerned, with other Meath priests, about the handling of the Silverstream issue.
I thought I should give the monk who suffered at Kurby’s hands the right to comment.
I tried to contact the monk. He was completely unwilling to communicate with me. He refused all communication with me, told me had nothing to say to me and not to contact him ever again? Wow!
Fortunately, my Meath contact is both knowledgeable and on the ball.
My Meath source provided me with a summary of the complaints:
After years of enduring the Prior’s sexual harassment (physical and verbal), emotional abuse, and spiritual quackery (he claims direct revelations from Christ, which he has put in a wildly popular anonymous book called In Sinu Jesu), I finally wrote a letter of concern to the Bishop of Meath.
I have also witnessed countless acts of tax fraud, in the form of paying workers “under the table” (much of our monastery was renovated this way), the maintenance of a “slush fund” by the Prior (a special drawer in his desk full of thousands of euros taken directly from cash donations of the faithful, candle money, Mass stipends, etc.).
I have also witnessed one incident of the Prior paying of an extortioner who threatened to tell the Bishop (this would have been Smith at the time) that the Prior and I were romantically involved. The extortioner was a volunteer worker who, I can only imagine, must have seen one of the Prior’s romantic moves towards me.
To clarify about the sexual harassment, this mostly took the form of the Prior wanting to take my arm and sometimes hold my hand to stroll about the more secluded areas of the property; the embraces that were so tight and uncomfortable that I often felt as if he might break bones; the constant (and I mean multiple times a day) unannounced visitations to my cell (where he caught me more than once in a state of undress); wanting on occasion to help me get undressed and ready for bed; and the repetition of phrases like “My Benedict”, “my monk”, “my priest”.
Only a few times did the harassment take the form of something genital, namely, the Prior showing me his genitals “accidentally” when, for instance, I visited him when he was sick (opening up the covers, and “whoops!”) or one occasion on which he wanted to show me an insect bite on his thigh; he raised up his underwear way too high, thus revealing his genitals.
He would also sometimes tell me stories about sexual things that happened to him in the past, e.g. times when as a monk he was sexually promiscuous (he was not proud of it), and even one occasion in which he had an affair with a woman who later hinted to him that she may have become pregnant (this affair, he told me, was to affirm to himself that he is not gay).
On one particularly egregious occasion (I was an aspirant at the time), fearful that I had decided not to join (there were no other prospects), he sat me down for about an hour to recount to me in very specific, vivid, graphic detail his own violent sexual past, that is, his serial rape by his uncle and his friends from a very early age (5 I think) until adolescence. When I say graphic and vivid he was describing almost mechanically horrendous sexual acts performed upon a young boy’s body. These were not all normal male-to-male acts; he described things that were incredibly perverse and degrading.
This was a watershed event in my life. Why I returned after this event, I will not fully understand, except that Kirby exploited some serious emotional weaknesses in me. What it produced in me was a kind of misguided compassion (a feeling that I had to help this broken man fulfill his God-given mission to begin a new family of “Eucharistic Benedictines”) combined with an extreme shock and disgust and aversion which I could only keep bottled up for so long. This was 10 years ago.
Why I endured the constant harassment and emotional manipulation is, again, a mystery, except that I genuinely believed in his vision, and the idea of being on the “ground floor” of it was too good to pass up. I knew all of this was wrong, but mostly I submitted to it out of fear of an overly emotional reaction, and because of his excuse that these things were very “Mediterranean” and only rigid “Anglo-Saxon types” are bothered by them (Kirby is half Italian and plays up that side very much).
I have never believed in his private revelations, and have told him from the beginning that I am “agnostic” on that particular topic (something that always “hurt [him] deeply”). You can imagine, though, the extremely abusive potential of a man like this, claiming the aura of a mystical soul chosen by Jesus, having pervasive spiritual authority over young, impressionable men.
The particular event which caused me to write my 30 April letter to Bishop Deenihan happened on the night between 25-26 April. The Prior and I were talking fairly late in his cell (totally unacceptable but this was often our practice). I told him I had to leave, I could not take it anymore, etc. I said unless he renounced, personally and also spiritually as the head the community, his way of relating toward me, I could not possibly continue there another day. The reaction was explosive. He began to pursue me physically all over the monastery, all the while madly texting me over and over things like “Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?” I was able to hide myself in the graveyard of the Visitation sisters, where I began to text my father in America to ask what to do. I was in genuine fear for my physical safety.
I think that Bishop Dennihan and the visitation team that includes two abbots – Coffey of Glenstall and our “friend” Purcell of Mellary, need to make an URGENT public statement on all these matters.
Kirby should not return under any circumstances.
And the closure of Silverstream and the despatch of the monks to other monasteries, should be top of the agenda
The Garda and the Charity Commissioners need to continue their investigation.