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The First Beginning, 2003

May 1, 2009

This blog — needing to write — flowed from experiencing pointed silence after I reported to a Jesuit provincial, Timothy McMahon, that the Jesuit who abused me and was removed from ministry in 2003 was violating the agreement reached with the Jesuits. It’s been a hell of a week, with the shit stirring again and dealing with silence. I’m calling it the second beginning, part two, of reporting a Jesuit. No one said these agreements we make with the church are going to be broken a few years later. That practice, lying to people that abusers would be supervised, was supposed to have stopped in this new era of church, right??

I thought I’d describe the first beginning, how I made the initial report in 2003 to his province. A Jesuit friend in Boston gave me the contact name and address for Rev. Frank Reale, who was the provincial for the Missouri province of Jesuits. I wasn’t abused in Missouri or in any of the states that province covers, but the Jesuit was from there, one of theirs.

When the Missouri province made its first contact with me after I wrote, I got a call from Rev. Phil Steele, the provincial’s chief assistant. He introduced himself and said that Frank got my letter and asked him to call. He asked me if that was alright. Before I could say anything, he added that Frank had asked him to handle these cases. I was thrown, and didn’t say anything. He asked again if that was alright, wanting to know, and I said “Phil, I’m just getting used to being called a case.” He was sensitive, then stressed that if I ever wanted to talk to Frank, to call Frank or let him know.

And that’s how it began.

One day I felt a need to talk to Frank, because things had gotten flummoxed over the typical Jesuit problem of too many institutions being involved: the abuser’s home province, the province where it happened, the province where I first reported it, and the educational institutions involved. Jesuits are nasty with each other, and it was way too stressful for me.

So I talked to Frank for the first time. It was memorable. He yelled, he slammed things, he yelled again, he slammed things, he was furious. “Why didn’t anyone tell us? What about all the other women who were hurt???“, he shouted.

When you’re reporting a Jesuit, you never know what’s going to happen with all the Jesuits you end up meeting.

I liked Frank right away. He was genuine.

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