My name is Frank (Francis) Barnes and I was at Mirfield from 1963 to 1968. I have been folowing the blog for a number of months now, and have been in contact directly with Mark Murray and Catherine Deveney with certain information which I trust assisted and contributed to her excellent article in The Observer last October.
My original response was to Boy X’s first contribution “My Last Goodbye” which truly shocked me. I was well aware of the abuse that went on at Mirfield and was one of Valmaggia’s victims for almost two years.
I have been blessed with the ability to be able to block these memories away, filed somewhere in the recesses of my conciousness, and get on with my life – but reading his latest additions to the blog reduced me to tears and having to explain to my wife for the first time the reasons why. My heart bleeds with the knowledge of the torment he continues to suffer, especially knowing he was a contemporary of mine, possibly even in the same year.
What helps me a little is the fact that I was able to to assist in the removal of his paedophile tormentor Father John Pinkman. In my last year I was School Captain for my sins, and was involved in serious matters relating to the ‘departure’ of the Rev. Pinkman.
Father Domenico Valmaggia
As stated I also well know about the antics of the Rev. Valmaggia as I was his ‘patient’ during my early years, suffering from stomach ulcers and unfortunately requiring frequent visits to his little treatment room and the infirmary.
Like some of the other guys I have blocked most of these memories, not even accepting I had been abused until years later! I suppose this was my coping mechanism to allow me to get on with the rest of my life. I am in my second marriage and have one daughter, two step-daughters and three gorgeous grand-kids. In between marriages I did a “Frankie Valentine” – working and playing for a few years on the Greek Island of Zakynthos.
Prior to that I lived in Manchester and Ayrshire, and afterwards returned to Dublin where I was born and now live. Like some of the other guys I thought I was the only one being molested by Valmaggia – although at the time I could not take it on board as being such because he was a holy priest!
He was gifted an excuse because I suffered with stomach ulcers and certainly took advantage with his constant intimate examinations and check-ups, which inevitably led to fondling and the rest. He literally had me ‘by the balls’ as I had to attend all that time to get my medication from him.
Father John Pinkman
Personally I managed to escape the attentions of Fater Pinkman. He tried it on at my ‘Facts of Life’ lesson in his room but somehow I got away before the demonstrations went too far. He tried to get me in the showers a couple of times but got short shrift.
I remember getting stung by a bee in the stomach and him taking me to his room to relieve the pain. His attempts to suck out the sting set off the alarms and I managed to make a quick exit. But there were many, many more less fortunate boys over the years and I am sure this applies to many readers of the blog.
But as stated elsewhere any reporting of these misdemeanors seems to have usually ended up with the expulsion of the victim – or so word has it!
Father John Fraser
It was during my time as School Captain I became aware of how widespread Pinkman’s web had spread. As mentioned in the ‘Mick Wainhouse Link’ on the blog ‘a group of older boys’ got together and reported him. What happened was I got together with couple of like-minded guys who were increasingly alarmed that nothing was being done about this pervert.
We were able to persuade a small number of boys that had been abused to write down statements detailing what had happened to them and assured them they would not get into trouble. We presented these statements to Fr Fraser, the rector, and I witnessed him weeping in front of us at what he was reading. We were reassured that it would be dealt with.
The next morning Pinkman was gone!
Police Not Told
Who did Fr Fraser ring to arrange his departure? Not the police as was his legal and moral duty! Who decided where he was going to? Who knew why he went so suddenly? There had to be a number of senior members of the order involved in this.
(Here my blocking memory takes over as I cannot remember the names of the guys involved. Please can any of these guys make contact so that we can take this further. Here we have witnesses and potential written evidence that should be followed up).
Needless to say he was moved on within the order. I know after a spell in the UK he ended up somehow being appointed as Secretary to the Bishops Conference of South Africa. I understand he ended up in a serious car accident over there and suffered horrific injuries and disfigurement. He later died there of a heart attack. I don’t know if this report was someone’s wishful thinking, but if true – no better man!
What sickens me now is that even with the passage of time it just shows how beguiling these people can be when they are mourned by the victims of their vile practices who are convinced they are the ‘seducers’.
Many Good Times at Mirfield
I do recall the many good times – the mad walks with Pinkman out front and Dermot ‘Sass’ Lamb at the rear (or was it the other way round) – the games of ‘numbers’ in the woods – the Milan football strip and the Sunday School league we always won – trips to Heckmondwike baths – Fountains Abbey – holidays in London, Tenby and Edinburgh – the plays we put on in the hall.
But there was always that cloud hanging over us – we all or most of us knew there was something not quite right going on. We could even laugh about it – nervously – as I remember, watching the TV in the Library once a week on Saturday evening – I think it was Dr. Who and then some sports – and we all joined in in chorus when the washing powder advert came on – “OMO washes whitest and it shows” !
We all knew exactly what it meant. Taking a shower you were always vulnerable to a helping hand from Pinkman.
Get In Touch Please
I note that most of the current contributions are from guys from the late 60’s and 70’s. I would love to hear from some of my contemporaries from the earlier sixties? There was Danny Curran, Liam Gribben, Pat O’Neill, Jim Kirby, Joe Gittos, and Brother Sean Gleason amongst many.
A bit older were John Docherty, Eddie Roberts, and David Kinnear Glenday – not forgetting Benjie Ward playing ‘A walk in the showers’ on his harmonica! John Clarke and John Downey too went on to be ordained. A bit younger I have only a few names like John Duffy and Paul Felix.
Someone mentioned Mick Palmer – we met up after we both left as we lived quite close and we were best of pals for many years. I was with him when he met his future wife and was his best man. I think he had three boys – last I heard of him before I left for Greece he moved to a disused railway station cottage in the Lake District (suited him down to the ground). His pal Mick Wainhouse seems to have had an adventurous time if you followed the link in one of the postings.
I kept in touch with Fr. Fulvi on and off for many years. He was my rock that kept me going at Mirfield.I am puzzled with the references to Fr Fulvi seemingly doing nothing about reports made to him about Pinkman. I had and still have the highest respect for Fr Fulvi. I can understand he followed the usual recruitment routine that I think we all were ‘conned’ with.
But I was in close contact with him throughout my time at Mirfield and for many years afterwards. I was devastated with the news that he had his throat slit whilst serving in the missions in Uganda.
The fact is that whilst I was School Captain it was him that I confided in about Pinkman, it was him that told me to tread very carefully, to research all angles, to gather evidence, to try and get written evidence, to get others involved as there would be “power in numbers”, and to put a case to the Rector (Fraser) that he couldn’t walk away from.
Burden of Proof
He persuaded me that the only way that success could be achieved was for the approach to come from those involved with persuasive evidence and to leave him with no alternative but to act. This is what I did. I cannot believe that he could acquiesce and do nothing – he guided me to do it.
It seems to me, from what has been written, that prior to this he felt ‘restrained’ from taking action himself. It also seems that the rest of the so called ‘Reverends” belonging to the Verona Fathers, under whatever name they are passing themselves off at at present, the ones that I know are fully aware of what happened, they too feel ‘restrained’ from telling the truth.
Vow of Obedience
The roots of the Verona Fathers (Comboni Missionaries) are with the Jesuits, and they are known to have had their own vows of secrecy to protect their own. Similarly, more recently, the paedophile founder of the Legion of Mary, Maciel – with his Jesuit connections – is known to have his followers vowed to secrecy to protect his regime and his disgraceful behaviour.
Maybe either directly or indirectly the Comboni Missionaries continue this tradition? I lost touch with Fr. Fulvi when I went to Greece and was devastated to hear of his martyrdom at the end of a blade in Uganda.
Fr. Wade to me was a saint. I cannot believe that he too was aware of what went on and did nothing. I got on ok with Father Cerea because I could sing a little. Father Stenico was harmless – there was a rumour he was seen checking out the top-shelf girly mags in a newagents whilst out cycling through Heckmondwike! Fair play to him.
Father Ceresoli hated me, but he seems to have hated everyone. God help us all if the powers that be in the Church judged him fit to be a Bishop, a Prince of the Church! If still alive he should resign and pray for his soul.
So we know both Fr Fraser and Fr Bob Hicks were made aware of the abuse of these young boys.
I left at the end of my fifth year, believing that the evil had been rooted out and future boys would be safe from that kind of degradation. What is so sickening is that by not doing what they should have done after I reported this abuse they contributed to the continuing abuse by this Nardo and others.
Father Martin Devenish
So Fr Martin Devinish states that just a small fraction of the number of boys that passed through Mirfield (and Stillington) were abused. That there are a number of contemporaries who are now priests that know nothing of this.
Well, Fr Devenish, you are either a fool or a liar. You can sue me if you like but when you appear in front if the forthcoming UK enquiry you and your fellow liars will be found out! One boy victim was one too many. I am sure there are many, many more out there who I hope will come forward.
Those Who Knew
Father John Fraser and Father Robert Hicks are witnesses to this. Father Benjie Ward, Father John Clarke, Father Downey, Father Felix and Brother Gleason must have known exactly what went on. Fr David Kinnear Glenday must have known.
He was extremely clever and has progressed well in the order and the church. He became Provincial and later Superior General. He is now Secretary General to the Union of Superior Generals of all the orders.
Father David Kinnear Glenday
David Kinnear, or “DK”s mother (as we knew him), and my mother were the best of friends when they met up on Parents Days. They compared each others hats and walked and chatted together through Fr Cerea’s beautiful gardens.
I was his ‘daughter’ Margaret in the play “A Man for All Seasons” to his brilliant St. (Sir) Thomas Moore (my voice famously broke during the performance in front of the Fathers of the Resurection to much hilarity).
Maybe he might remember some of the words he spoke in that play, when as Sir Thomas he was asked to just sign his name to consent to the divorce of Henry VIII.
Duke of Norfolk
The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I’m not a scholar, I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!
Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?
David – think about it – also this, your reply to Sir Richard Rich in the same play after he was rewarded with the earthly title as Public Prosecuter for Wales for conforming:
“Why Richard – it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world………..But for Wales?”
David Kinnear Glenday is man of some authority, no doubt. He certainly has the ear of Pope Francis himself.
I wonder if he could be persuaded to help to heal these open wounds. Maybe a simple acknowledgement or even an apology would do?
If Boy X or anyone wants to contact me please do so on:- firstname.lastname@example.org