I received this unexpectedly through email and thought I’d share it.
I received this unexpectedly through email and thought I’d share it.
Who is this visitor to the blog you may ask?
I am now 66 years old and walked the corridors of Mirfield from 1963 to 1967 and then moved up to Allanton for a year from where I was dishonourably discharged as a result of an unhealthy (still a matter of opinion) encounter with beer and ladies.
I shared the classroom often with John Docherty, Leonard Rowland, and David Glenday in particular and had a close association with Fritz and Bickers among others.
The list of names would go on. My pride and joy as for others was pulling on the Inter Milan strip and roaming the right side of the field.
My laundry number was 94!
I was elevated to the lofty position of MC which was the pinnacle of my then career, and though I thought it was because of my unquestioned saintliness, in truth it was because I was the worst singer since Moses tried to sing the Ten Commandments and I could swing a thurible like no other.
My class reports had a common theme of “too frivolous in class” and ” must take his duties more seriously ” !
Via a circuitous route through Israel, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Stockton-on-Tees, I arrived in Australia.
I came upon this blog quite by accident . I was engaged in routine internet activity and like many others suddenly decided to go off task and do a bit of Google research.
Now for some as yet unconfirmed reason I entered Verona Fathers.
What I found was an emotional tremor to say the least! How was I unaware of what was going on then and now?
Names , my name! and events from an age gone by leapt out of the pages and excited as I was , my heart became heavy as I read on.
I have reflected deeply since the discovery and with the benefit of that wonderful friend hindsight, yes the signs were there, the clues were in the corridors and dormitories.
Why not me? Who knows?
I thought till now a routine weigh by an avuncular medically trained Father was quite normal. It is hard to attach a 66 year old head to a 13 year old kid destined for the papacy.
As my contact with some of you grows, I think of a time, for me, of happiness and fun, of challenge and camaraderie that forged my path for the future.
I must now dwell on other things, sad things, and my thoughts are with you.
I talked with Gerry recently for over an hour after a gap of around 49 years!
I don’t know the man, yet we talked of happy days, memories plucked from storage in the depths of some cerebral hemisphere.And we still have a bond, more in common than with some people I have known for decades.
From a land down under, I wish you well and speed the day I don that Inter strip and see you again.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Father Tesfaye, Superior General of Comboni Missionaries
If I was interviewing the new Superior General I would ask him:-
1. Was Sexual Abuse of Minors discussed at the General Chapter?
2. If so, what was decided?
3. If not, why not?
4. When you talked about the problems that the Order has faced were you including the Sexual Abuse of Minors by Comboni Missionaries at Mirfield in the Sixties and Seventies?
5. If you were not, why not? Do you not see this as a problem?
6. If you were, what do you see as the problem – the actions of Comboni Missionaries who abused junior seminarians or covered it up or the actions of the abused to get justice?
7. In terms of the Comboni Missionaries and clerical sexual abuse, will your leadership continue as before with the same policies and same actions or will you take a new direction?
8. If it is a new direction, what will this direction be?
9. Pope Francis has said in his US trip “The crimes of sexual abuse against children cannot be repeated.” What action will the Comboni Missionaries take to make sure that his wishes are carried out and that no further abuse can ever take place at the hands of Comboni Missionaries.
10. Pope Francis has said that any Bishops involved in the cover-up of sexual abuse of children will be punished. We have already seen how the top Cardinal in the Scottish Catholic Church has been banished. Will you continue the policy of your predecessors and continue to cover up child abuse or will you flush it out into the open?
11. Will the Comboni Missionaries, under your leadership, apologise to those who were abused in the past and acknowledge what happened to them?
12. Will you agree to meet with representatives of the Mirfield 12 and to work with them to make sure, as Pope Francis requests, that this ‘crime’ in his words, will never be allowed to happen again?
13. Will you hand over any documentation relating to the abuse at Mirfield, e.g. records showing:-
– why Father Pinkman was sent away after multiple accusations of abuse,
– why Father Valmaggia was sent away and thrown out of the Order after multiple sexual abuse accusations,
– why Father Roman Nardo was sent so quickly to the Missions after abusing Mark Murray repeatedly and
– why he was brought home from Uganda after accusations of sexual abuse by Mark Murray
– why Michael Riddle was sacked from his job as a lay teacher after accusations of sexual abuse,
to the appropriate authorities, i.e. to the police and the Vatican?
Fr Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie
The Comboni Missionaries have a new Superior General. They are currently involved in their General Chapter XVIII in Rome until October 4th. One of their final acts of the General Council was to elect Fr. Gebresilasie to the role of Superior General of the Order. He is the first African to have held this title.
I think that I remember, from my time at Mirfield, that Daniel Comboni predicted that eventually Africa would bring the missions back to Europe. That prediction has come true in a big way wih the election of Fr Gebresilasie.
He is 46 years old so still has plenty of energy for the role.
He was assistant General in charge of Basic Formation and the provinces/ delegations of English-speaking Africa (except Eritrea) and Mozambique. Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie was born on September 22, 1969, in Harar (Ethiopia).
Comboni Missionary Confreres
His vote was almost unanimous but he thanked this who had reservations about him saying ” I would like to say thanks to the confreres who have expressed their reservations, their hesitation. I agree with you and thank you, because I myself am afraid, I too have my reservations and my hesitations. So thanks for your realism.”
He said that the Comboni Missionaris were on the side of the poor.
He continued “Our Institute, too, has its problems. Faced by all this, I feel small, a little confrere who has had the experience of the great forgiveness of God and confreres”.
Comboni Missionaries Sexual Abuse of Minors
He didn’t say, specifically, what the problems were but let’s hope that he sees the abuse of minors at the seminary in Mirfield in England in the Sixties and Seventies, and the subsequent cover-up,, and not the cost of litigation and bad publicity from it, as one of the problems facing the Order
He then accepted the role of Superior General of the Order replacing the outgoing Fr. Enrique Sánchez who was a major player in the cover-up of abuse at the Order.
To anoint the new leader of the 1,700 Comboni Missionaries worldwide Fr Sanchez said:-
“I, Enrique Sánchez González, declare the Rev. Father Tesfaye Tadesse Gebresilasie the elected Superior General of the Institute of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
And the Comboni MIssionaries had a new leader.
New Superior General
Is he a new broom who will sweep clean? Will he take the Comboni Missionaries in a new direction?
Will he face the scandal of the sexual abuse of minors at Mirfield in the Sixties and Seventies head on and deal with it appropriately or will he see the abused as the problem as previous Superior Generals, including Father Sanchez, has done?
Let’s hope it’s the former and not the latter.
The Mirfield 12 wish Father Gebresilasie well and we look forward to a new beginning.
The new Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries will be elected this week. The Mirfield 12 hope that he will make a clean break with the past and own up to the crimes of sexual abuse of minors and will take steps to work with the abused to make sure it can never happen again.
Here are some questions for the Comboni Missionaries and the new Superior General:-
1. Was Clerical child abuse discussed at General Chapter XVIII?
2. Why was Father Pinkman moved on after accusations of child abuse at Mirfield.
3. Why was Father Valmaggia moved on and thrown out of the Order to a parish in Como after accusations of child abuse?
4. Why was Father Romano Nardo brought back from Uganda in the Nineties after accusations of child abuse by Mark Murray? Why was Mark told that he would never be allowed near children again? Why were these accusations never reported to the police? Why will the Comboni Missionaries not allow West Yorkshire police permission to speak interview him?
5. What do they think of Pope Francis’s latest statement in the USA last week when he said that “The crimes of sexual abuse against children cannot be repeated” and that bishops who cover up sexual abuse of minors will be prosecuted? Do they agree with the Pope? Will they follow his instructions on the matter?
6. Will the new Superior General acknowledge that abuse took place? Will he apologise for it? Will he work with the victims to make sure it can never happen again? Will he pass over all the information that they have about the sexual abuse on their files to Italian and UK police?
A momentous event is taking place for the Comboni Missionaries (ex-Verona Fathers) in Rome this month.
They are having their their seldom held General Chapter when representatives of all the 1,700 Comboni Missionaries will be in Rome to look at where they have been, where they are now, and where they want to be in the future.
This is only the 18th General Chapter that they have held in their history of well over a hundred years.
It is a period of introspection for them.
At this momentous occasion they will also elect a new Superior General, i.e. a new head of the Order.
For the Compboni Missionaries, it is like a Vatican Council and an election of a new Pope all rolled into one.
The present Superior General, Father Enrico Sanchez, will be stepping down. He, as well as other previous Superior Generals, like the UK’s own Father David Glenday, will assist in the preparations and voting for the office of the new Superior General.
It is not known whether the Comboni Missionaries will be talking about their history of Sexual Child Abuse of Minors at their seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire during the Sixties and Seventies at their General Chapter and any new response to it.
Pope Francis said just this week in te USA “The crimes of sexual abuse against children cannot be repeated” and wants to punish bishops who have covered up sexual abuse of minors.
However, so far, the Comboni MIssionaries have snubbed and defied Pope Francis’s instructions and have failed to even acknowledge that sexual abuse took place, never mind apologised for it.
They are also continuing to cover up the sexual abuse, hiding out Father Romano Nardo at their house in Verona and refusing permission for West Yorkshire Police to interview him.
Defying Pope Francis may come back to haunt them.
However, if they elect a new Superior General who is untainted by the crimes of the past and the cover-up of what Pope Francis calls ‘crimes’, they have an opportunity to move forward in tandem with Pope Francis and the rest of the Catholic Church.
The Mifield 12, who received payouts of £120,000 last year from the Comboni Missionaries, and the others whose cases are current, are calling on the Comboni Missionaries to use this General Chapter, and the election of a new Superior General, to take this opportunity to put the past behind them.
Representatives of the Mirfield 12, and the others, are willing to meet the new Superior General at his earliest convenience to help put the stain of child sexual abuse behind them and to work out new processes that make sure that this can never happen again.
We wish the Comboni Missionaries good fortune in their choice of their new Superior General. This may be the most important election they have ever had and opportunity to move in step with Pope Francis and the Catholic Church.
The future doesn’t bear thinking about if they don’t take this opportunity to change direction.