Dear Bishop Deenihan,
As you are aware, I have been blogging about Silverstream Priory for quite some time. In light of that reality, I was recently contacted by an individual expressing disquiet arising from his discernment of a monastic vocation at the Priory. The aspirant feels aggrieved that his treatment was unfair; he mentions in particular some form of mistreatment by Dom Hildebrand Houser, the novice master, and Dom Basil MacCabe, the newly-appointed prior. However, I accept that it is the prerogative of the community to set its own criteria for admission and their decision-making in that regard a final. He feels sufficiently aggrieved that threaten you with legal proceedings, however, a solicitor I know well tells me “hurt feelings are not actionable”.
This individual’s desire to join Silverstream Priory begets the obvious questions: a) why would anybody would wish to join a monastic community mired in sexual and financial scandal and, b) why do you, as the Bishop of Meath, continue with cheerful alacrity to do nothing about Silverstream, a monastery of diocesan right over which you as Ordinary hold ultimate authority?
The individual in question shared with me his correspondence including your response. I am not privy to all the facts, but it is clear to me that the individual in question feels aggrieved, and that his grievance may-be well-founded. In the correspondence, I note that you deliberately disavow any responsibility from the day-to-day administration of the Priory. But a careful reading of the correspondence begets the following legitimate questions.
Is true that the new Superior of Silverstream Priory, Fr. Basil MacCabe, OSB, has claimed to see the Blessed Virgin Mary and that was the antecedents of his monastic vocation? If so, were you aware that you were appointing another “mystic” as superior of Silverstream Priory? Does the Abbot of Saint-Joseph-de-Clairval in Flavigny, the Rt. Rev’d Dom Jean-Bernard Marie Bories, OSB, know that Dom Basil had a vision of Our Lady? Did Archbishop Roland Minnerath, when he ordained Dom Basil to the priesthood know he was ordaining a visionary? Is Dom Basil set to become the “Padre Pio” of the Diocese of Meath?
The last “mystical” superior of Silverstream Priory, Dom Mark Kirby, OSB, who was credibly accused of sexual and financial misconduct also claimed to hear Christ from the tabernacle; indeed, a book featuring the imprimatur of your predecessor, Bishop Smith, purveys these long-winded “locutions” to the faithful around the world. Thus, did you have any concerns about appointing [if known] another mystic to be the superior at Silverstream?
More seriously, I am greatly concerned by the observation in this individual’s e-mail that a certain “Fr. John” suggested “that Fr. Basil like males as young as 14 and 15 and 16 to try and join their Monastery [Abbey of Saint-Joseph de Clairval de Flavigny] in France.” On first viewing, this seems utterly absurd, but it does have a ring of truth.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting any misconduct whatsoever on the part of Dom Basil; nor should any inference of same be taken. However, if this is true, it does raise serious and legitimate questions about the prudence and judgement of Dom Basil, whom you have just appointed to preside over a scandal-ridden monastic community. And, by extension that raises questions about whether Dom Basil should remain as the superior of Silverstream Priory.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting any misconduct whatsoever on the part of Dom Basil; nor should any inference of same be taken. However, if this is true, it does raise serious and legitimate questions about Dom Basil’s prudence and judgement. And, by extension that raises questions about whether he should remain as the superior of Silverstream Priory.
As you know, I have already highlighted concerns to you about the presence of boy scouts that were present within the monastic enclosure in Silverstream Priory in the past.
Therefore, this assertion, i.e., Dom Basil is encouraging miners to join the monastery in France needs to be independently investigated. It would seem prudent to bring the matter to his abbot, the Rt. Rev’d Dom Jean-Bernard Marie Bories, OSB, and because his monastery is of diocesan right; the ultimate authority is the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Dijon, Archbishop Antoine Henry Pierre Marie Hérouard.
I would be grateful if you could confirm receipt of the present and by reply outline what steps you are intending to take to address the concerns expressed herein. I would be further grateful if you could confirm if you intend to apprise Abbot Bories and Archbishop Hérouard; I would also be more than happy to forward them the relevant materials for their careful consideration.
FROM SILVERSTREAM HOPEFUL TO TOM DEENIHAN.
Further to my appeal sent to you last Thursday; I was of the belief that there would be further proceedings in which I could elaborate on the Facts in my appeal and formal complaint – which was sent to you last Thursday.
I did not get fair procedures. Further, Fr. Basil sent me to a Hotel for the last night of the retreat instead of Discernment Talks. This Hotel was opposite the Bank of Ireland in Clonmel in County Tipperary. He had claimed to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary and that is why he joined the Religious Order. I found it strange that a Priest and Monk who claimed to see the Blessed Virgin Mary would prevent me from getting fair procedures. Fr. John who was also on the Retreat told me that Fr. Basil like males as young as 14 and 15 and 16 to try and join their Monastery in France.
I was shocked that Fr. Basil sent me to a Hotel rather than the Retreat House in Glencomeragh House for discernment talks. The Hotel was full of all night Drugs and Alcohol and everything else that goes along with that including a night club that had loud music until 4am. Most of the residents do not actually go to sleep at all. While there I noticed one of your Diocesan Priests who is a Chaplain at NUI Galway (Fr. Ben). His colleague provided a reference for me for Silverstream Priory. Fr. Ben really knows how to party! He certainly appears to know how to swing from the Chandeliers. Apparently he replaced the Chaplain at NUI Galway who was replaced and the Legion of Mary Society closed. What a replacement! I would have thought that a priest who had an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is now the new Superior of Silverstream Priory would send me to such a seedy place.
If you cannot or will not deal with my appeal and complaint I may have to bring civil proceeding against you.
FROM DEENIHAN TO HOPEFUL
FROM HOPEFUL TO DEENIHAN
Thank you for your email. I was of the understanding that the Monastery was under your authority. I was shocked by the way I was treated by the Novice Master Dom. Hildebrand and the new Superior Fr. Basil at Silverstream Priory. I will be seeking advice from Xxxxx Xxxxxc who is a family relative and other Canon Lawyers.