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Time Out: Another reflection

July 18, 2009

Fourteen months after I was sexually assaulted by a Jesuit on a study abroad program in Rome, I graduated from Holy Cross.   And then a few days later I left for a return trip to Europe with my best friend.

One of the things we did was design what people these days call a “Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of St. Ignatius”.   We went from town to town, place to place, knowing the names from courses and books we studied at Holy Cross.   I fell in love with Montserrat, where most visitors go for a half day trip.   We stayed a long time.  We went to Manresa and stayed for awhile.   We took our time everywhere we went.

(Continued in comments section)

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  1. vsptruthteller permalink*
    July 18, 2009 6:01 pm

    Here’s the thing that was true then and hard to remember now: I never thought for a second that the abusive Jesuit represented all Jesuits. I knew at least one Jesuit that would want to beat him up. I knew Jesuits who would be outraged.

    A couple years later, I studied for a master’s in Pastoral Ministry at BC (during a break from law school) and did my field ed at the Paulist Center in Boston. About six weeks after I started, the staff asked me to preside at the Friday afternoon liturgies (communion services). They emphasized I would have as much training and practice as I wanted. They said the Friday afternoon liturgy was special, like Sunday for most of the people who were there. They said it was not because the staff wanted an early start to the weekend, but that, for example, most people there have issues with priests.

    The night before my first training, I had a bad dream about Rome, about going to communion and there’s a nasty looking priest and semen in the cup. That dream messed up my life.

    So I told the staff it’s not what I want to do, presiding at liturgies. I explained why, what happened in Rome, not a good time.

    I’ll never forget what happened next. Vinny, the Paulist priest I was talking to, turned bright red, as red as someone could be. “How can you be here? How can you trust us? How can you trust any one of us after what was done to you? How can you stay Catholic? How can you stay in this church? How???”

    And I told Vinny, “Shouldn’t that Jesuit be the one to stop being Catholic, not me?”

    It really, really shook and bewildered me that first, you’re sexually assaulted by a priest, and then you’re expected to give up church too. It was so unfair. (He got it.)

    Those early years were lively and spirited — and hard.

    After a steady uncontrollable decline over the next few months, I started what turned out to be more than 700 nights sitting every night by my dorm room door thoroughly terrified and positive someone was going to force his way in. I’d go to bed at dawn and sleep for a couple hours.

    It was more than two years, but more than 700 nights says it better.

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