THROUGH A CRUCIBLE TO SPRINGTIME
I hope with all my heart to be able to share this story
with you so that it will be a source of encouragement and solace. It is my story; more aptly, the part of my story which is
about my being assaulted by a Catholic priest and how I was healed (was able to recover from it.) It is an intensely personal
story and it is a story of hope. My earnest desire is that you, the reader, will be able to find something helpful in it for
yourself or that you can pass it on to others if it helps you.
Note: All names of persons, institutions, and geographical locations have either been omitted
It was July 1988, and I was twenty-three years old. I was young, na´ve
and fragile at the time. Futhermore, having been totally blind since birth due to an accident which occurred then, I was very
much at risk and extremely vulnerable. Also, as a result of tragic circumstances, I was desperately wounded, and shattered
emotionally even before the assault.
My mother is a beautiful, courageous person, and has been a great blessing
to many others.Nevertheless, she suffers from a serious mental illness and struggles with many limitations.
To be sure, she did her best in my formative years, but unfortunately her illness left me traumatized and wrecked, and we
were unable to form a loving bond.
Moreover, when I was four years old, I was sent away to
a school for the blind, and since the school was far away from my home, I saw my family infrequently. As time passed, we became
more emotionally distant, and losing them was intensely painful. Especially difficult was the separation I suffered from my
identical twin. I experienced her loss as if it were a death. I was utterly abandoned.
Throughout my growing up years I longed earnestly
for a family. I constantly searched for human love and for secure close relationships. I needed a home and a place to thrive.
I yearned for encouragement and comfort. Yet, my desperate needs for a family was heartbreakinglyunfulfilled,
and life was a painful struggle and deep sorrow. Nonetheless, in spite of this agonizing darkness, I had a strong and vibrant
faith and was gifted with enough love to survive. Moreover, faith upheld me and was the bedrock of my life, so I persevered
despite great anguish.
In 1987, I went to Medjugorje in Bosnia for the first time. Medjugorje
is a special place of profound love and religious pilgrimage. Being there changed my entire life and gave me solid direction.
In fact, the sense of call to be there as much as possible at that time is just too difficult to articulate. In any case,
within a three-year period, I went to Medjugorje often, and on one of those trips, I met Father X. in May of 1988.
Also, around that same time, I had begun discerning
a religious vocation. I wanted nothing more than to be part of a loving community of prayer, and longed to live my life as
a nun. Even so, though I had this clear and ardent desire, I still felt hopeless and alone. None of my
earlier wounds had been healed, and I was suffering extraordinary anguish. Besides, at that point, due to a series of crushing
and cumulative disappointments, I was especially susceptible to hurt and I felt ruined. I urgently needed human support and
thought Father X. would be a safe person. After all, I concluded, “He is a priest and a servant of God, so he will show
compassion and kindness! Maybe he’ll be able to help me,” I hoped. “And maybe he’ll be a confidant.”
Without a doubt I was almost despairing, and was actually searching for a lifeline. I desperately needed someone to trust,
since I was at a crucial juncture. Thus, soon after the trip, I began writing to Father, and poured out to him all of my troubles.
When returning from our pilgrimage that spring, I was asked
to help with music at the prayer group Father was involved with. While there, I was introduced to his sister Kate and we became
pretty good friends. I visited often to help with the prayer group, and spent lots of time with Father
During one of my visits, the idea of going to Ireland together
was proposed. Father and Kate’s family still lived there, and I would have a chance to meet them and spend time. Even
so, I didn’t have much money saved for the trip, and I remember how urgently I scrimped and scrounged so that I’d
have enough needed for the plane fare.
Oh, how overjoyed I was to finally
be going to Ireland! It seemed like a dream come true, and I felt it was a chance of a lifetime. Indeed, how alive I became
when thinking about the trip, for Ireland is in my blood. (Well, it is, literally, since I’m Irish on my mother’s
side.) I wanted to learn about the country and the people, and somehow, even though I’m an American, I felt that in
Ireland, somewhere long ago perhaps is where my roots were really planted. At any rate, I longed to be there; I wondered and
dreamed about it often. Yet, I didn’t actually realize how strong this longing was until the chance to travel there
It was July 20th,1988. The big day had finally arrived!
Scurrying around I was getting things together, preparing for the long trip ahead of me. Excitement filled me as I boarded
the bus, going happily off to New York City. How wonderful it would be out in the green, lush countryside, and I couldn’t
wait to hear some Irish music. Kate and I were going to fly together from Kennedy Airport, and as I neared that crazy place,
my excitement mounted. Once I arrived though, everything drastically changed; a powerful foreboding overtook me! Out of nowhere,
it seemed, and for no apparent reason, a mighty sense of dread consumed me.
couldn’t imagine getting on that plane. For the life of me, I didn’t know what to do! From that point on, I was
paralyzed with fear, but I just didn’t trust my intuition. I even called someone to confide in from the airport, but
she brushed my fears away and tried to comfort me. So, despite this terrible
panic, in the end I got on that plane, but all during the trip, I was in agony. I have never felt such terror either before
that time or since. I can only suppose it was a premonition.
As day began to break, we got closer to our destination, and the sun was bright and cheerful when we landed. So in spite of
my trepidation, the tranquil early morning soothed me. Somehow I felt I was coming
home. I enjoyed the quiet ride through the Irish countryside, and as we
drove through the picturesque towns, my spirit lifted. We stopped along the way at a friend of the family’s house to
have a cup of tea and rest a while. They served us freshly baked brown bread with Irish marmalade, and I’ll never forget how good it tasted to me. How beautiful it felt to be there at last, in the land of my ancestral home.
On that morning, at least, before everything went wrong, I never could have dreamed of what would happen. After
a few hours driving we arrived at the family homestead, which was located in a quaint old Irish village. Father’s sister
Susan, and his mother came out to greet us, and the welcome and warmth they showed comforted me. A traditional Irish breakfast
had been lovingly prepared, but as we sat down to the meal the trouble began.
Suddenly, Father and Susan started arguing with
each other. They quickly became completely out of control. I just couldn’t get over their hateful disdain, and was incredulous
at the venom they hurled at each other. Doors were slamming as they screamed fierce insults. I never did find out what it
was about. I was thoroughly frightened by it. It totally floored me. Yet there was no possible way to escape the chaos. “Something here is just not normal,” I thought, as dismay and
alarm overwhelmed me. “What am I going to do if this gets worse?” I panicked, for the raging around me went on
and on. No one in the family seemed happy or at peace. Even more, Father and Susan never hid their contempt. Why was there
such bitterness and hatred between them and what on earth was wrong with this family? For the whole rest of the trip, everything
went wrong, and though I tried to go on being cheerful, it all went sour. “What kind of place am
I trapped in?” I questioned. I just couldn’t believe how bad it was! Oh! I didn’t want the nightmare with
Father to really be true. I didn’t want my cherished dreams to be ruined.
I stayed in Ireland for
twelve unforgettable days, and the effect they had on me is irrevocable. Of course, that is true, because of the assault,
but despite that tragic occurrence, I have great hope. The assault and its aftermath are not the sum total of my life. Indeed,
it’s a miracle that I’ve recovered. Accordingly, I hope that my experience can benefit others. Thus, I’ll
be as transparent as I can.
My first night there passed quickly due to the jet lag, and after I got some rest, a new
day dawned. Undoubtedly, in spite of the dreadful way in which things got started, I truly hoped it would soon get better
again. Nevertheless, though I longed for a safe and comforting visit, Father X didn’t waste any time at all. He immediately
began his life-wrecking advances.
Early every morning,
he would come into my bedroom, when the house was all silent and still. How sinister and stealthy he was in all his actions.
He didn’t even make a sound. “You’re so beautiful,” he’d whisper in an awed and soothing tone.
He was gentle and kind at first, so he hooked me in. “You’re my strength. You’re my salvation,” he’d
continue, in an uncanny voice, while devouring my delicate skin with his filthy fingers. I was terror- stricken then, and
became dreadfully alarmed. I desperately wanted to get away from him. “Oh! This just isn’t right at all,”
I’d protest in fright and horror, but then since I wouldn’t give in, he’d become more cunning. “Oh,
you can’t be so na´ve if you want to be a nun. I’m only really trying to help you. I care about you a lot, and
I know you’ve really been hurt, but I’m only doing what’s best, so you can be healed.” He’d
say despicable things like this. As time went on I doubted myself. He betrayed me, since I trusted him implicitly. ”Is
the water warm enough in your shower,” he’d smooth-talk. “If it isn’t, I’ll come in to fix it
next time.” He was vile. It was ghastly! I was utterly appalled. Yet, regardless of my feelings, he was relentless.
“Is your menstrual cycle normal? When is it,” he’d go on prying. “Whose clothes are hanging there
in the bathroom?” I thought he was insane. It was incredible! I was sick! Still, his tactics intensified. He was ruthless.
Then, advancing ever slowly toward his goal of raping me, he got closer to reaching it as the days went on. “This is
wrong,” I’d plead in terror, for I wanted to be left alone, but he’d come up with the most wicked, ingenious
statements. “I’m a priest! Don’t insult me. I have holy hands,” he’d say, while putting the
crucifix tenderly up to my lips. There are no words to describe the evil poison in what he was doing. He had my whole life
in his hands and he just smashed it. He was disgusting and revolting! I was confused. I was losing my mind; I had no idea
on earth what was going on. Though I tried and tried to stop him, he was gradually wearing me down. He was treacherous and
eventually overpowered me.
He Becomes a Madman
after five more days, he still hadn’t managed to rape me, so during the second week, he came up with a plan. “Come
on a trip with me, to see the country,” he invited, but by then, I feared he was dangerous. I just didn’t trust
him. He wanted to get me alone without anyone else around. Even so, when he couldn’t convince me, his rage boiled over.
“I’ll force you to come with me,” he growled in icy derision. However, I flatly refused, and his wrath hit
the ceiling. At once, he became a madman, and dropped all pretense of being nice. He turned from holy priest to devil overnight.
Doors slammed thunderously as he spit out foul curses, abusing everyone who came in sight. “Son! stop screaming, calm
down,” his mother exclaimed. “ You are totally out of line in behaving like that!” “Just get out of
my way,” he hissed. Wildly, he pushed her aside. Brimming with malice and spite, he was crazed and determined. I was
terrified of him. He was brutal and filled with hate. Even the sound of his loathsome voice thoroughly repulsed me. “If
you don’t give in to me, I’ll just leave you here,” he jeered. ”And you’ll have to find your
way back home yourself.” Cruel and vicious in his fury, he was full of bitter contempt. He detested me, and wanted to
destroy me. “Just give me what I want. I don’t care what happens to you! If you don’t do as I say, I’ll
leave you stranded.” He had turned into a monster as the days went sorrowfully on. Yet, though I was filled with dread,
I kept resisting. After he was gone, I told Susan about what was happening. What a horrendous situation.
I was trapped! Since I desperately wanted to believe that he was upright as a priest, I simply couldn’t fathom such
great evil! Moreover, I was
despondent, and urgently needed a friend. I couldn’t
comprehend that he’d turn against me. Somehow, I kept thinking that he’d have a change of heart. However, when
I told Susan, she was outraged. Astounded and terribly distressed, she had no respect for him! Insulted and mortified, she
held him in scorn. “He’s untrustworthy. He’s a sham,” she exclaimed, as her anger blazed. Her demeanor
implied she thought he was truly dishonorable.
When he returned from his travels a few days later
he was nice, so I figured he had changed his intentions towards me. It’s hard to believe it now, but I just couldn’t
grasp his depravity. Needing and wanting to trust him, I was utterly deceived.
On that last Saturday afternoon, we were left alone in the house. Susan and Father’s mother had
gone into town. Father was pleasant at first, but he used that to trick me again. Calculating and devious, he continued to
con me. “We’ll have our tea now,” he said, while setting out the chicken and lettuce. Then, somehow, he
caught me off guard, and the torture began. By once again posing as my intimate friend, as a father, confidant, or safe person,
he manipulated me, and beguiled me once more. By deluding me, he ensured my unwavering trust.
“Let’s go into the living room now,”
he said, while taking my hand and acting friendly. Then under the guise of light-hearted play, he moved forward in his schemes
and advances. “We’ll sit on the floor by the fire,” he went on, but suddenly, he pinned me down flat. Slowly,
he sweet-talked as he eased my blouse off. Quickly, he was reaching his goal. Surely, he would have done so right then and
there, except that the doorbell interrupted him. During all of that, I was stupefied and numb, in a fog, just going through
the motions. It’s hard to understand or to explain it to anyone else, but during dire trauma, the mind shuts down.
The trip was coming to an end, but Father was
unrelenting. He tried to win me over once again. “Do you want me to hear your confession?” he asked one evening,
right after dinner. However, needless to say, I lost all respect for him. I simply didn’t regard or trust his priesthood.
The last day arrived and we were
headed to the airport, and after our goodbyes, we boarded the plane. Father was sullen and surly as we got on with the flight.
He resented my relationship with his family. “Why did you have to