Comboni Missionaries (Missionari Comboniani)

The Verona Fathers that we knew are now known as the following:-

Comboni Missionaries Seminary at Mirfield

What we are hoping to achieve from this blog is to find out why our experiences at Mirfield created such a unique bond that, year after year, people who have not met for several decades  come from the four corners of the UK, and even further afield, to reminisce and catch up.

This will include both happy and sad memories. Indeed one of the recurring themes from posts we have received is the abuse that many boys, as young as 11 years old, received at the hands of Comboni Missionaries priests at the seminary in Mirfield in the Sixties and Seventies.

These abusers include serial abusers of multiple boys like Father John Pinkman, Father Domenico Valmaggia and Father Romano Nardo. Father Pinkman and Father Valmaggia are now dead. However, serial abuser, Fr Romano Nardo is very much alive.

Indeed the UK police have investigated his abuse and those of the others and have concluded that a ‘crime has been committed’. West Yorkshire Police have stated that if Fr Pinkman and Fr Valmaggia were alive they would be immediately arrested. Recently a doctor in the Uk was given a 22 year prison sentence for activities similar to those of Father Valmaggia. Indeed it could be argued that Fr Valmaggia’s sexual abuse of children in his care were worse.

Don Enrique Sanchez

The UK police have applied to have Father Nardo extradited form Italy to the UK to answer questions. However, Missionari Comboniani in Rome, under the direction of the Superior General Father Enrique Sanchez, have said that he is in an insufficient mental state to travel. Hey says that the events he saw in Uganda have traumatised him.

Romano Nardo was brought from the Missions in Uganda immediately after Mark Murray reported his abuse to them in 1997. The abuse too place in the early 1970s at Mirfield.

Missionari Comboniani

Don Enrique Sanchez, the current boss of Missionari Comboniani, admitted that they brought Nardo home as a result of Mark’s complaint. He has assured Mark that he is in a house for the sick in Verona and will have no contact with children. This doesn’t sound as if Father Enrique Sanchez disbelieves Mark’s accusations.

He won’t hand Romano Nardo to UK police for questioning, though. If Romano Nardo was seriously traumatised by what he saw in Uganda (which took place decades before), why did they leave a supposed ‘severely traumatised’ priest in a position of authority in Uganda for many years and why did they only bring him home after Mark’s accusations?

UK Police Questions

Dom Enrique Sanchez said he can’t hand him over to the UK police as they have a duty of care towards, what they say, is a severely traumatised priest. However, what happened to the duty of care that they say they owed him when they left this ‘severely traumatised’ man for many years in a position of authority in Uganda?

Although this ‘severely traumatised’ man cannot answer questions from the UK police, he has been pictured celebrating mass in 2008 and has attended local carnivals?

Pope Francis recently apologised to all victims of abuse by the Catholic Church. Comboni Missionaries (Missionari Comboniani) recently paid out £120,000 (€150,000) to 12 men who accused the above three priests of abuse in the Sixties and Seventies and of a cover up, afterwards, by the Comboni Missionaries.

No Apology from Missionari Comboniani

However, not only have the Comboni Missionaries not apologised, as the Franciscans did recently to 14 boys their priests abused, but they haven’t even admitted their guilt. They have said that this was just a bean count and they only paid out as this was the cheapest option. This was the same defence as Michael Jackson used ,when he handed over $20m to the father of a boy that he was accused of abusing.

And Father Enrique Sanchez and Missionari Comboniani keep serial abuser Romano Nardo holed up in the mother house in Verona away from the hands of the British police.

A Culture of Abuse

The three priest above are not the only priests who have been accused of abuse in the ranks of the Comboni Missionaries but they are the ones where there has been a number of boys corroberating each others’ stories.

However, this website is not just about the abuse by the Comboni Missionaries at Mirfield, it is also about happier memories of Mirfield and the young boys’ time there. If you went there, tell us have your stories of abuse or of happier times there. Click on Contact to contact us.

What Happened to Them?

So, what happened to Father Valmaggia and Father Pinkman?

Although their abuse was reported to those in authority at Comboni Missionaries several times (documented elsewhere on this website), nothing was done about Fr Valmaggia till it was reported to Father Robert Hicks in 1969. He called Fr Valmaggia ‘this evil man’ and demanded that something be done.

Something was done. He was transferred to the salubrious Sunningdale outside London and carried on as the Provincial Bursar before spending the rest of his life in his local parish in the diocese of Como in Italy where he died in 2011.

So, what happened to Fr John Pinkman?

He was sent to South Africa and died of a massive heart attack in 1984 at the age of 48. A Mass of Celebration was said in honour of his life, at, of all places, the chapel at the seminary in Mirfield – only a few metres away from his bedroom where he abused and ruined the lives of so many boys, aged 11 to 14.

More Information

And Father Roman Nardo?

If you want a Mass said, or to invite him to a carnival, you can find him at the Missionari Comboniani mother house in Verona. If you want to ask him a few questions about his serial abuse of Mark Murray and other boys, he is too severely traumatised to talk about it.

For more information on the abuse and the perpertrators of it, as well as the cover up by Comboni Missionaries, see the other sections on this website.

23 responses to “About

  1. Hi, my name is Chris and I spent a year at midfield in 1966-7. I was one of fr. Fulvi’s finds and remember well fr stenico, fr radaelli and fr cerea. There was also a brother John sartori? He had played soccer for one of the big Italian teams and was agreat guy. I remember great games with huge chains of boys running around the school, numbers in the woods, awful early morning runs. I remember lads from my time, like John lundon from liverpool, ambrose Mulroy from Newcastle. Michael Cahalin from st Helen’s(deceased)

    Strange how a year can have such an effect on you for Life.

    Can’t say I suffered any abuse of any kind, felt very uncomfortable with one priest, never knew why.

    • Hi chris
      Would your nickname havs been lloydy.I remember Ambrose he was recruited from my parish in Felling.If I remember rightly you must have been in the year above me .Here are a few more names to play with ,John harker,Steven Burnip, and Paul Felix, who I believe was provincial for a while (perhaps he may like to have some input on the site).Your mention of games certainly brought good memories flooding back.
      Thanks for your input,hopefuly we will hear more from you in the not too distant future.

      All the best
      Degs (Kevin Deignan)

      • Hi Kevin, have enjoyed contact with Ben who got in loads of trouble with me when we caused an explosion in the lab. Was Chris Hardiman the red haired lad that used to lead the rosary at night. If there was anything good on tv he would break world records to get through it. Hearing of the issues that some of the lads had to suffer makes mew very sad, I am glad I chose to leave as early as I did. I was shocked to hear of the fate of fr Fulvia. I will keep an eye on the blog and will try to attend any reunions I can.

  2. Hi guys, thankyou for doin this blog I was at mirfield 71/72 I was expelled, ive met up with brian mcginley and been in touch with fr paul lloyd…but as they remained after 3 of us were expelled by fr hicks …my memories are frozen in that timewarp ….I remember you degs you were our dormitory prefect in my 1st year And mark you worked at the pig farm ….as you can imagine st Peter claver made big impression on me the scots lads were great bunch too …ive loads of memories fr frank mculla fr murtagh mrs patterson hope to hear from you soon and anyone who remembers me cheers charles

  3. In a post to an article in today’s Telegraph Online:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/11527987/Pope-Francis-refuses-gay-French-ambassador.html (April 10, 2015)

    You may be interested to be aware I (Law&Order) posted this:

    “Perhaps the Holy Father and the Church of Rome should remember words reportedly spoken by Jesus; “Let him without sin cast the first stone”




  4. Hi. My name is Alex. I was at Mirfield from 1977 to 1981.

    I was sexually abused by Father Philip Hinchcliff on three occasions. I reported it to the Police in Scotland in 1997. I was about to leave the UK at the time and left instructions with the police to contact my sister regarding any developments. About two years later my sister informed me that the police had contacted her. They told her that Hinchcliff was no longer a priest and was living in the north east of England. There were no other complaints against him so it was essentially my word against his. And nothing else happened.

    I have done nothing about it since then but today for some reason I decided to search for him and by doing so I found ‘The sins of the fathers’ article from the Guardian 19.10.14 and found your blog.

      • As a victim of abuse I find articles and sites like this very offensive. Blaming opponents on the sexual revolution for the victims it caused. In the Netherlands paedophilia in child pornography were legal for years. This was with the support of gay rights groups and Left-wing parties. Not Clerical Catholics.

    • Hello Alex
      You are not alone and the police have had my complaint against Hinchcliffe as well,
      Pls get in touch.

    • Alex

      I am sorry to tell you that the Police in Scotland dent this.

      There is a police woman in Barnsley trying to find Hinchcliffe now May 2020
      And maybe his Brother Paul too.


    • Alex

      Police in scotland deny this
      Police in dewsbury asked them.

      A PC Leader is trying to locate him,,veronas know but are refusing to say

      Peter Murray

    • Police in scotland deny this.
      Police in dewsbury say so.

      They have probably lost it.


  5. I spent a short spell in the infirmary while in the care of Philip Hinchcliff. I was reprimanded for reading in the toilet and told it was unhygenic. I was not subjected to any abuse nor did I ever hear him speak an uncharitable word about me. At the time I was about eleven years old. At the time I omitted to say, ‘Thank you,’ to him for the care with which he looked after my health. Wherever he is, Philip knows that this is true.

  6. I did spend some time at Midfield confessing at length the sins of other people and refusing to confess my own. In my attempts to ignore the, ‘Instructions for a good confession,’ I collected a number of soul-diseases which caused havoc in my ability to get rid of the pride, (big head), which would have enabled me to walk with a lighter step. Continuing to walk about like Pinocchio meant I was far from the health that participation in the most wonderful tradition I had been invited to attend could have given and ended up with a bill to pay that I could never have paid in a couple of lifetimes in terms of cleaning up a load of, well, you know what. I had food, clothes and enough to get me by for 50 years but spent lots of it ignoring the many blessings I was given with love for nothing. I hope to find another day which I expect ought to leave me too embarrassed to open again my big mouth unless to say, ‘Thank you, God.’ if I can find the courage to do so. Good luck to those who shared with me something which was irreplaceable – enough blessings to be unable to count them.

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