Mick Wainhouse – From Mirfield to Mercenary via the Paras

Mick Wainhouse

I wrote this a few years ago with Terry Aspinall, an ex-mercenary who wrote the book Soldiers of Fortune.

It is about Mick Wainhouse who started at Mirfield in 1963 before being expelled in 5th year. Many of you will know him.

He joined the Paras who took part in the Bloody Sunday killings and was booted out and jailed for robbing a sub-post office in Northern ireland.

He then became a mercenary in Angola with his close Para friend ‘Colonel Callan’, Costas Georgiou.

Here is his story – From Missionary to Mercenary.

First Contact with Jim Kirby

First Contact

I put my name down with Friends Reunited for St. Peter Claver’s College, Mirfield.

It’s funny but I always thought that I would be in touch with those I’d met at the college again. I don’t know why I thought that as there was no internet in those days and I had completely lost touch with all of those who didn’t live in the same town as me. In fact, Id’ lost touch with even some of those who lived in Greenock.

But I knew I would be in touch with them again.

Jim Kirby

There were a few emails exchanged through Friends Reunited but the first major contact was when I arranged to talk to Jim Kirby on the phone.

He had actually been in the year above me and, to be honest, I didn’t really remember anything about him beyond his name.

However, when I talked to him on the phone it was my first real contact with anyone from that past life for around 35 years.

It was great talking to him.

The last time we had spoken man hadn’t yet landed on the moon, Celtic hadn’t won the European Cup and the Beatles hadn’t released Sergeant Pepper.

Those events were now quite ancient history and yet they hadn’t occurred last time we had met.

What Did You Want to be Dad?

What Did You Want to be Dad?

The other day I was watching TV when my 13-year-old daughter asked me “What did you want to be when you were young Dad”?

I had a quick think to when I was 7 or 8. “ A footballer” I replied. “I wanted to play for Scotland”.

“But after that” she asked not wanting childish sporting fantasies to be counted. “I wanted to be a priest” I replied. “Why would you want to be a priest?” she asked, a little askance.

“I wanted to help people” I replied. “I wanted to help Africans. I wanted to bring them God”.

She didn’t seem impressed by that. So far it was just one of those conversations. It was what she asked next that hit me. “What did you want to do after that” she asked.

I thought for a few moments. She expected me to come up with something else. I thought I would too.

No answer came.

“Nothing” I replied.

Bolt From the Blue

It hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was 53 years old. I now realised that I didn’t want to be anything after the age of 13.

How much does that explain?

It was like a thunderbolt out of the blue from a simple question.

I had gone through secondary school without a goal in mind. There was nothing I particularly wanted to do. I knew that I would have to do something. I was told that this was OK, that it was better to go to University with no particular career in mind, to keep an open mind.

I did go to University. I didn’t particularly like it. It was like the curate’s egg, good in parts – but I couldn’t be bothered studying. In the end I couldn’t be bothered to even go to many of the classes.

All Clear

It all became clear.

Why would I?

I didn’t want to be anything. I didn’t want to go to the ‘theatres or cinemas’ that a university degree would buy me a ticket into. I knew I had to do something. It’s just that I had no real passion for the opportunities that were presenting themselves.

I passed the Maths exam but failed the English and the Economics. As I had seldom gone to any of the classes in the second half of the year I was surprised that I had even passed my main subject Maths. You could do re-sits. I had had to pass one of the other two at the re-sits. I could go forward with passing one of those and re-sitting the exam for the other one in second year.

Summer Holiday Resits

I stayed up at my grandparents over the summer holidays so that I could study without being distracted my my ten brothers and sisters. The only problem was that I didn’t study much. I couldn’t be bothered. I know it was important. I knew that it was crucial to my career. But I just couldn’t do it.

I did go up to the room to study, but you could take a horse to water but you couldn’t make it drink – and I didn’t drink much water that summer at all.

I did a little near the end. I went up to do the re-sits at the university. You had to do three essays altogether. The first one I did pretty well, I thought. In fact I thought I had done it particularly well.

I didn’t know which of the other two I would do first. They were going to be a more difficult proposition but I was sure that I could do it. It would have been a case, in football terms, of having an early lead and then doing enough in the second half to hold on to that lead.

However, I couldn’t be bothered. I couldn’t even be bothered to start the questions or make any attempt at them. I took a decision then.

I wouldn’t do them. I knew exactly what it meant. I knew that my university career was over. It had always been expected that I would go to university and do well. I had expected it too.

All Over

However, it was now over. I couldn’t leave till the first hour of the three-hour exam was up so I spent the next twenty minutes doing this game of letters that I had made up where basically football teams are allocated a letter and score goals in a knockout or league competition based on how often their letter appears in a text half line. I used the exam paper as the text.

The marker of the paper must have got a surprise. On the first three pages would have been a very well answered question. When he or she would have turned over they would have found an indecipherable jumble of letters and numbers.

I left after the first hour was up, handing in my truncated paper.

What Had I done?

I remember sitting in Glasgow Central Station pondering on what I had just done. I knew that my university career was over. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to plonk a university degree in front of potential employers to help me get a good job. I knew exactly what I had done. But my main emotion as I sat there on the station bench was not a feeling of fear. It was a feeling of exhilaration.

I knew life would be more difficult now. But I was pleased. I had quit education. I had got a monkey off my back. I was no longer flogging a horse that had long since perished. I would now have to drive in fifth gear.

I didn’t really understand it at the time. Why did I quit? Why did I not want to study? Why was I exhilarated by leaving university?

I didn’t understand the answer to that question till my 13-year-old daughter’s question 35 years later.

Our Greatest Benefactor

Our Greatest Benefactor

There was one series of events that I found bizarre whilst I was there. I remember one time Tea was interrupted by a guy, Mr. Hughes, who came in the refectory door. He would probably have been in his thirties or forties. He walked in and stood on one of the steps down into the refectory and held up a huge see-through bag of what looked like sweets without their wrappers on.

Suddenly all the boys and priests in the refectory burst into applause and cheers for this guy.

“What is going on?” I enquired of one of the guys from third year.

“He’s our biggest benefactor” he replied.

Broken Sweets

I never did get to the bottom of all this. The sum of his benefaction seemed to be that he worked in a sweet factory and he brought sweets from there to us. However, none of the sweets had wrappers on them, although they were all well-known brands and the other thing is that they were all misshapen, crushed or were just parts of the normal product.

They really fawned on this guy. In my perspective, even as an eleven year old, these were reject products and were probably rescued before they were dumped in some bin at the sweet factory.

However, nobody seemed to want to take this on board. It seems that the ovation he got, although not quite orchestrated, the boys all knew what to do.

He was always known to everyone as ‘our greatest benefactor’. I did ask if he actually contributed anything more than reject sweets but nobody seemed to know. My strong hunch was that he didn’t.

A Protestant

One other thing always mentioned about him was that he was a Protestant. It was said that despite that he still gave to ‘the’ church. It was always assumed that Protestants were in darkness. Any of them who did us a favour was always assumed to be in the process of being led to the truth by God.

It would be interesting to find out this guy’s perspective of it all. Was he just a kind hearted guy who worked at a sweet factory and who thought that it would be better to rescue reject sweets that were about to be binned and bring them over to the local boys school? Or was he wavering on the verge of conversion to the true faith. One feels that the latter was a long shot.

I don’t know what he thought happened to them. I presume that he thought that they would be immediately divided out amongst the boys.

Removed for Special Occasions

After he had gone the sweets were immediately taken away. At special occasions in the future we would receive a single mangled caramel wafer or whatever it was. I always noticed that what was passed out to us didn’t seem to match what was given in.

It always happens in any strict regime where the rulers have absolute power that ‘output’ tends to get siphoned off by those in the ruling classes. I have no idea whether the Fathers were gorging themselves on reject chocolate bars, but I do know that we got less than the sum of the whole.

The Bonfire – Guy Fawkes Night 1966

The Bonfire

I do remember one year, though, when the school decided to have a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night. There were no fireworks – just a bonfire, but we didn’t get much fun and this was a real bonus.

Life had become a bit more liberal in my 3rd year and Mick Wainhouse’s 4th year after the appointment of Father Fraser, from Glasgow, as Father Rector. Some of the Italian Fascist inspired rules had been taken out.

There had never been a bonfire before. Why would Italians celebrate Guy Fawkes night? If they have been told what it was all about they would have allowed it even less. Perhaps it had been explained to them and that’s why we had never had one before.

Bonfire of the Vanities

We had to leave, though, when it was time for Evening Service and bed. However, I couldn’t resist it. With a guy called Maurice Eaton, I got up out of bed after the priest, Fr Hicks, had finished his walking about, went downstairs and climbed out of a window to go and have another look at the bonfire.

To my surprise we were soon joined by Mick Wainhouse, Mick Palmer and Titch Carey. We threw fresh wood onto the bonfire. However, we wanted more action than that. Mick Wainhouse suggested that we go over to the farm, get some petrol, put it in bottles and toss them onto the fire.

I must confess I was more than a little nervous of this suggestion as, if we were caught, we would be instantly expelled. As well as being out after lights out, we would also have been stealing from the Verona Fathers’ farm.

Instant Expulsion

I remembered that in First Year a boy had been caught stealing. We were given a spine chilling talk by Father Pinkman who started by saying “We have a thief among us”.

They found out who it was and the Boy was instantly expelled. He had stolen one of the other Boys’ money – a fiver given to him by his mother. It was to pay for his keep. The Boy who had it stolen reported it missing. It was taken from his desk. A fiver was a lot of money in those days.

The priests gave the money back again to the Boy who had had it stolen. He asked how they had managed to get it back. “Don’t ask” he was told. It’s almost certain that what they had done was had a massive search of all the Boy’s lockers and desks whilst we were engaged elsewhere.

They wouldn’t have given a second thought to the impropriety of doing that. I bet they did it all the time.

The Boy who did it was instantly expelled. We never saw him again. We weren’t told that the thief had been caught but we could put two and two together.

So, I was pretty nervous.

Worth the Risk?

The idea sounded great but I didn’t think it was worth the risk.

But Mick did. He and one of the others, probably Mick Palmer, went over to the farm and brought back bottles full of oil. We put rags in them like Molotov Cocktails or Petrol Bombs and tossed them into the fire. I think I had read somewhere about how to make them.

Probably the next time Mick would see them would be when he was serving in the Paras in Northern Ireland, when they came raining down on them, tossed by rioting Catholics in the Bogside and elsewhere.

Next Suggestion

It was what he suggested next, though, that made me gulp.

He suggested that we would go back to the farm, take a couple of the hens there, bring them back and roast them on the fire.

This was so unlike him. I was shocked. Indeed I was extremely nervous about it. We had got away with the oil. They probably wouldn’t notice the oil missing and even if they did they wouldn’t think “some of the Boys must have stolen it, put it in bottles and chucked it on the bonfire”.

However, they would notice that the hens were missing. Mick and Titch were asking him what they would have to do. “We’ll wring their necks and put them on the edge of the bonfire” he said, “and then we’ll eat them”.

I was appalled. I had no great wish to have a couple of hens killed. I wanted even less to see them having their necks wrung.

And what if we got caught?

Neck Wringing

“Who’ll wring their necks?” someone asked.

“I’ll do it” said Mick.

I begged him not to do it. I told him that we’d all be in terrible trouble, but he was really up for it and thought it a great idea. He would definitely have done it, but by now the other two were having cold feet as well and talked him out of it.

Incidentally, I don’t think that we ever tasted chicken in the whole time we were there. That was reserved for the priests – although we did get boiled eggs. So, it would have been a real treat to taste some chicken, which we would have seen as a delicacy.

Encounter with Father Hicks

Incidentally, Maurice Eaton and myself had got caught going back in the window by the priest now in charge of the senior boys, Father Hicks. He thought of himself as a bit of a psychologist, although I think he had only read books on it.

He told us off and then let Maurice Eaton go. He kept me back. He said that it was because he saw remorse in Maurice Eaton’s eyes. He hadn’t seen any in mine at all, he told me in a highly accusatory voice. I then tried to look suitable remorseful.

He was right, though. I wasn’t sorry at all. I was only sorry that I had got caught. Mick, Mick and Titch had left before us. I think Mick had lost interest once killing the hens was overruled.

Pinkman’s Extended Infuence

He told me “Fr Pinkman has told me all about you”. I knew instantly that this wasn’t positive. Many of the Boys had been hanging around Fr Hicks who was just new to being in charge of the seniors. They were short of a father and wanted to be in with the new Father.

I wanted to be in with him too and impress him but I didn’t want to be as obvious as some of the other Boys. However, with those words of his I knew that there was no chance of that. Pinkie had marked his card on me.

There was no point in telling him that Pinkie was operating a vendetta against me, even after I left his charge in junior school, and explaining why he was doing it. I didn’t even understand myself at that age. It’s only now that I’m able to put two and two together and make five.

Cards Marked

However, I knew then that, our new father, the guy in charge of the senior boys had had his card marked as far as I was concerned and that I could forget about being a favoured ‘son’ the way I was with Fr. Cerea and that I would be henceforth plunged into the wilderness and forced to seek refuge for brotherhood amongst my fellow seminarians.

However, of my best friends Francis Locke had now gone and Frank McGinnis refused to talk to me due to my traitorous behaviour under severe questioning and getting broken by Pinkie. I was now hanging around with Boys that I wouldn’t have before, although I was still quite well in with the ‘in crowd’ which was mainly composed of Eddie Roberts, Fritz and maybe Bickers.

Father Hicks must have been watching for a while, when we came back in through the window, because he was waiting for us to come through the window. If we’d stayed on and killed the hen and cooked it he would certainly have seen that.

I suspect that we would all have been expelled. Mick’s life would probably have taken a very different path if he had been expelled whilst in 4th year rather than in 5th – but we’ll never know that. He didn’t do it in the end.

Expelled for Drinking

Letters were always sent home to the Boys’ parents when they got expelled – and they didn’t pull any punches.

It must have been a shock to Mick’s parents when they got the letter telling them that the son who was going to be a priest had been booted out for drinking.

However, if the letter had said that he was being kicked out for stealing a couple of hens from the farm, wringing their necks and roasting them on a bonfire they would have been shocked and appalled.

“What sort of son do we have that would do this?” they would have thought.

They would learn more about that in the future.

RateMyPriest – My Mirfeld Marks for Comboni Missionaries

Conduct Marks

When we were at Mirfeld we were given three Conduct marks twice a year. They were in Behavious, Good Manners and Diligence. Now I’d like to give my own overall marks to the priests who were there in my time. You are welcome to add your own markings in the Comments section at the end of the article. Maybe we can end up with Favourite Father of the Sixties and Favourite Father of the Seventies.

OK here goes:-

Mark – Priest

10 – Father Cerea – I had almost a father / son relationship with him. I was at the front of the class and he used to smile proudly when I got a History or Latin question right. I was astonished to hea rother people say that he physically assualted them with slaps or cuffs on the head.  I don’t remember any of that – but maybe I was wearing rose-tinted glasses. I would actually put him in my list of the Ten People I’m Most Glad I Met.

9 – Father Grace – I would have given him a 10 except I had to make space between him and Father Cerea. I can’t remember anything bad about him – only good. He was kind and had a good heart. When he interrupted Pinkman’s interrogation of me in the junior classorm when I was in second year and told Pinkman to get out, I could have ‘done for’ Pinkman then if I had told Father Grace all about it as He was telling me to. “I can handle him” he said dismissvely and scathingly. However, I stupidly didn’t believe him and told him nothing. If there hadn’t been a Cerea then Father Grace would have been a 10.

8 – Father Columbo

I don’t remember that much about him except that he was a chain smoker with stained hands and that he was a load of fun. He went to the missions when I was not that long there, somtime in my first year. However, my perceptions of him are positive and I remember that he was friendly, fun and open – the very antithesis of someone like Father Ambroggio.

8 – Father Fraser

I liked Father Fraser immediately. He was from the West of Scotland like I was. He also turned the regime there upside down. He threw over all the old stern rules. It was like being present at the Fall of the Berlin wall being at the college at that time when all father Amroggio’s harsh, stern, austere rules were cast aside..

Where previously we were only allowed out once a week to make a tour of ethe surrounding countryside with the head boy at the front and Father Pinkman at the back to make sure we didn’t buy any sweets at local shops and we had to spend all our money at the tuck shop it was now totally different.

Previously we had had to hand in all our money at the start of term. Now we could keep our money, go for walks or into town in groups of at least two, spend money in local shops and could go home for weekends sometimes. Those truly were heady days.

Unfortunately, Father Fraser listened to Pinkman and suspended me for a year. I didn’t go back. Pinkman told me beforehand in a gloating fashion what was going to happen. I didn’t believe him but it came to pass.

On the downside, he was told about Pinkman by Frank Mcginnis, amongst others, but chose not to believe them. Indeed he called Frank McGinnis a liar when he told him in July 1967.

7 – Father Pinkman

Belive it or not I actually liked the old ‘monster’. I suppose that is what grooming does for you. I was very disappointed when I came back on Parents’ Day in 1968 and found that he had been sent away. He gave me the lowest Conduct Marks ever in the school and shortly later he asked me if I wanted now to become a “Good Boy”. I should really reciprocate his ‘lowest marks ever in the school’ that he gave to me. However, I have to put what I felt at the time – before I was able to piece it all together as an adult.

6 – Father Wade

Father Wade was fine but a bit of a sensitive soul. I used to crack jokes in class. If he liked them he laughed. If he didn’t like them he sent me to get the Punishment Book. Stand-Up comedians never had it as tough as this when they were breaking through – even at Green’s Playhouse in Glasgow which was known as the Graveyard of English Comedians.

Morecambe and Wise were up there once. Ernie was sent out first to warm up the audience. All he saw was 3,000 pairs of eyes staring back at him from the darkness. No one laughed at all. They just stared at him in silence.

Eric Morcambe looked through the curtains to see what was going on.

One wag shouted “Christ, there’s two of them”.

However, at least Eric and Errnie ddn’t end up ‘missing their tea’.

I ended that year (second year) being in the punishment book more times than anyone else in the school. It was all for minor infringements and Wade and Pinkman were the two who mainly put me in it.

5- Father Fulvi

He was the Spiritual Director when I was there.You would go to him if you had any spritual matters to discuss. I had none – so I didn’t know him that well. That’s why he has a mark in the middle.

He did nothing when Jim Kirby and Anthony Summers reported Pinkman to him in early 1967. ndeed he told them never to tell anyone what they had told him. However, I believe that he was nvolved in getting rid of Pinman at a later date.

4 – Father Hicks

I only had him in 3rd year when he was in charge of the seniors. My main memory of him was when he caught Maurcie Eaton and I coming back in the broom room window after we sneaked back out to see the bonfire on November 5th 1966 after lights out.

He told me that Father Pinkman had marked his card about me (and his inference was that it wasn’t good). As they say “Hell hath no Fury like a Paedophile Priest scorned”. I knew then that Pinkie’s influence had not ended when I left the juniors. I stayed away from Hicks after that and he seemed content with that.

I am giving him this mark from my memories of when I was there. Since I have gone I have found that he had probably done more to rid Mirfield of paedophiles than anyone else – doing for Valmaggia and Riddle and may have had a hand in the others for all I know.

He was also, though, involved in the cover-ups and he certainly didn’t feel the need to contact the police as you should when you know that a crime had been committed.

I think, if I had to give him a present day mark it would probably be 7. He did a lot to get rid of the paedophiles but is involved over the years in covring it up, and overall I would say it was Could Do Better.

4- Father Ceresoli

As he was head of the seniors I didn’t come into that much contact with him. I think he taught us one subect and I think that was Theology. I found him a bit of a cold fish and lacking somewhat in human emotions. I heard later that he terrorised Boy X, picking on him and making life miserable for him – so much so that he drove him into Father Pinkman’s waiting hands.

3 – Father Stenico

While there isn’t that much that I would say bad about him, I can’t think of anything good. He was grumpy and unhelpful when asked questions partly becasue of his porr English. He would start to answer questions but got frustrated and would angrily tap the board with his writing on it and say “Tis so” and move on without answering the question.

2 – Father Ambroggio

Some people may be surprised at the low mark I have given to the Father Rector of my first two years. Indeed Jim Kirby said that he was a holy and devout man. I found him stern and austere, unfriendly and soulless. I can still see him clearly in my mind’s eye now.

He was the one who was responsible for the stern, austere regime that we lived under which so crushed our spirits. We couldn’t run or whistle in the corridors or speak to the seniors except at certain times. We had to hand in our money at the Tuck Shop.

We were basically imprisoned in the college, seldom getting out and never unsupervised. He basically ran a prison camp, or gulag, in the heart of old England, a couple of decades after the Fascists were overthrown in his home country.

He it was who insisted that we leave our letters home open so that he could read them and censor them.He ran a place that was  a feeding ground for paedophiles and did nothing at all when he was told about it.

The buck stopped with him. He was in charge.

Indeed, as I write this, I am thinking that I was generous in giving him 2. I don’t really know where he got the two points.

0 – Father Valmaggia

Unlike Father Pinkman, Father Valmaggia didn’t need to groom. He was the Infirmarian and he has his Infirmary where the boys went when they were sick. he had them as captives in there. His treatment always involved touching their groins. He also felt the need to weigh the boys every so often in his late night surgery – obviously with their clothes off.

I have nothng positive to say about him nor can I relate any good experience at his hands or any good deeds that he did.

Indeed he reminded me of Father Jack out of the TV Series Father Ted – except that it wasn’t “Girls” that he would have shouted out. Father Wade could have been his Dougal. i’m not sure if i can think of a Father Ted.

If any of you want to give the priests marks out of 10 from your time there please feel free.

Conduct Marks

So, do you agree with my marks? Do you see it differently?

Let us all know how you would mark the Mirfield priests in the Comments section below.

Father Hicks Dumped us in Leeds Station, Vocation Over

By Charles Young

The Disappeared of Mirfield

I do remember boys vanishing not to come back.

One guy I remember was a lad called Mitch

He was Scottish I think.

It would’ve been late 1971 or early 1972 that he disappeared.

Dumped by Father Hicks

I, myself, would’ve been one of the same group – as I was expelled with 2 other boys in 1973.

So from the disappeared point of view, it was quite traumatic.

We were taken to the station and given a train ticket to the nearest station home.

We were cold, hungry and abandoned on Leeds station.

I remember 2 of us had to return to Newcastle but the other lad had to go to Glasgow – on his own.

I’ve never heard from him ever again.

Model Seminarians

Was nickin’ an airfix model of the Bismark from Woolworth really that bad?

Really!

Well Fr Hicks thought so, anyway.

There ya go!

Verona Fathers Blog Comment

This was not uncommon.

The way they dumped on teenage boys was quite cruel.

Usually there wasn’t even time to say goodbyes.

Boys in their early and mid-teens, who were no longer wanted, were thrown out straight away, dumped at Leeds station and given just tickets home.

Often they had hundreds of miles to get home.

The parents didn’t even know anything till the boys turned up at their doors.

They, and the local parish priest, would get a letter explaining the dismissal a week or two later.

I know of parents who never forgave their sons for being expelled – and many were expelled for what we would see now as fairly minor indiscretions.

Given Up Everything

These boys had left behind their homes, their families and friends usually at the lage of just 11 to follow their vocation and to study for the priesthood.

These young lads were not offered the courtesy of a decent send-off when they were no longer wanted by the Order. Often, they could not even say goodbye to the other boys who had become, in effect, their family.

They were told their fate, asked to pack immediately, driven to Leeds station, bought a ticket home and basically abandoned to their fate and the rest of their lives.

Vocations Gone

Just a few hours earlier they believed they were heading for the priesthood – now, as they waited of their train, they knew they had an unknown future ahead of them.

This was always the way right from the beginning and was happening well before Father Hicks’ time in charge.

Many boys were unceremoniously dumped this way.

It must have been terrible for their self-esteem.

After all they had given up to come to Mirfield, they deserved better than this!

If you know of any other stories of Boys being unceremoniously dumped at short notice by the Comboni Missionaries at Mirfield put your tale in the Comments section after this article.

The Forgotten Victims of Comboni Missionaries Sexual Abuse

Comboni Missionaries Sexual Abuse

We have documented here the sexual abuse that took place in Mirfield in the Sixties and Seventies at the hands of Father John Pinkman, Father Domenico Valmaggia and Father Romano Nardo as well as by lay teacher Michael Riddle.

Many of the ‘Boys’ who had been abused assumed that the other Boys would be sympathetic when hearing about the abuse they suffered at the hands of those priests and lay teacher when they were in their early teens.

However, this has not been the case as regards all of the Boys who were not abused.

Michael Riddle

This came to a head this week with the post about Michael Riddle, the lay teacher who abused several boys whom he taught at Mirfield.

This brought to a head this ‘disbelief’, if I can call it that, with an article from Andrew Routledge saying that he spent many an hour smoking a pipe in Riddle’s room without being molested or abused.

Another ex-Boy was angered by the article too and sent me an email saying that he didn’t want to receive any more emails with links to articles as he was “sick of listening to such crap”.

He then had an angry email exchange with Tony Smith.

Abused and Angry

The reaction from Andrew and this guy angered those who have been abused.

Their motivations have been questioned in the past by the Comboni Missionaries who have said that it’s all about the money.

However, I found Andrew’s article quite considered and natural. It was a natural reaction.

When a child in a family reports abuse by a parent or a relative, say an elder cousin or uncle, the standard reaction of others in the family is to protect the parent or relative who has been accused.

There is a disbelief that it happened. In fact the abused child is often vilified.

This is a knee-jerk reaction and often , but not always, opinion gradually turns around and blames the perpetrator and not the victim.

However, the victim feels abused twice, firstly by the perpetrator and then by those in the family who don’t believe them and sometimes go further than that and accuse them of lying and making it up.

Mirfield Family

At Mirfield, the priest and teacher there were more than just teachers. The priests, like the other boys there, were family. We had left our own families behind to become priests and this was our new family.

The ‘Fathers’ were our substiture fathers – especially those closest to us like Pinkman who was in charge of the junor school.

So, it is not surprising that some of the Boys who were not abused react in this way. Many of the Boys see their period as a happy, idyllic part of their lives.

They looked forward to the reunions where they would meet up with other Boys from that idyllic period.

Paedophile Monsters

Imagine their shock to be told by some of the other boys that the place was not so idyllic as they thought and that some of the priests and lay teachers that they idolised were actually paedophile monsters who preyed on multiple boys often as young as 11 years of age.

Others that they idolised, who were not paedophiles, were involved in covering it up and hiding their crimes from the police.

That must have been a terrible shock to the system to those coming to what they expected to be happy reunions.

Abuse Questions

A typical reaction would be “If he was a paedophile then why did he not abuse me?”

Of course, there are several potential reasons for that. Paedophiles tend to prey on those of a certain profile, i.e. those they see as most vulnerable. Indeed the abuse of several of the boys comenced after boys going to priests’ rooms, like Pinkie and Nardo, in tears from feeling homesick.

Those who were not abused can consider themselves very lucky. So many lives have been ruined by sexual absue by priests at Mirfield. It could have happened to them too.

Who can say why it was that the priests did not choose them to abuse. I don’t suppose that they could have abused everybody. There were 31 boys in first year alone when I was there. They could afford to pick their victims carefully.

Nothing said at the Time

“How come nothing was said at the time, if there boys abused when I was there?” is another standard reaction. Again this is natural and par for the course.

So many boys suffered in silence thinking tht they were the only ones. Indeed it was a surprise to them to find out at reunions (or by finding this blog) that it was happening to others – and by the same priests who abused them and who were telling them that they were special.

It’s also not entirely correct as several abuse victims reported their abuse at the time but were most ignored – although boys reporting their abuse did lead to Valmaggia and Pinkman beng moved on elsewhere immediately.

Loss of Their Innocent Childhood Memories

Although they were not abused themselves, some of these others are suffering a loss too – mabe not of their innocent childhood – but of their innocent childhood memories of an idyllic period and an idyllic place in their early lives.

Many don’t want to believe it, certainly at first.

They may even be angry at those who are destroying ther memories of this idyllic childhood at Mirfield and the ‘wonderful’ priests and lay teacher there.

Even if they believe it, they question the mortivations of those who say they were abused.

They also seek to protect the memory of the abuser, if they are dead.

They seek to protect those involved in making sure that the abusers were never prosecuted for their crimes and ensuring that the abusers were simply shifted elsewhere – possibly to abuse again.

Unsympathetic

Those abused are very angry at this.

How could they think like this after everything that happened to their ‘fellow boys’? Why have they no sympathy?

I would say to the abused that it is perfectly natural for these Boys to think this way.

It happens in every single family where abuse takes place.

I would say to The Abused “Let’s not villify them. Let’s explain. It is a shock to their systems. Their childhood memories have been dashed on the rocks and they don’t like it”.

Real Villains

I think that most of them (but not all) will come to see who the real villains are.

It was not the abuse victims who have ruined their idyllic memories of Mirfield.

It was the actions of the abusers that did this – and the actions of those who covered it up and who are currently still covering it up and hiding a sexual abuser of young children in Verona in Italy.

The abuse victims are only the messengers.

We say to those doubting them “Don’t shoot the messengers. Blame those whose actions blighted Mirfield – not those who told you about it”.

Thanks for your article Andrew.

If you wish to comment on ths article please do so below. We welcome comments from all people and whatever their views. We know that there are two sides to ths story.

After all, we are a family!

The Annual Cull – The Ones Who Disappeared

The Cull

At the end of each term there is a cull of ‘the chosen ones’. Three times a year boys are told that things didn’t work out and that they shouldn’t return when term begins. Term time, especially the one before the summer holidays, often ended with boys crying in the dormitory as they packed their bags for the last time.

They would never see their friends again. In fact, because we all lived together, we were more like family than friends. It was like being torn away from your family – and at such short notice.

Sometimes the boys didn’t say anything and simply didn’t come back the next year or the next term. We started each term not knowing which of our ‘family’ had been disappeared or had disappeared themselves.

Sudden Disappearance

It didn’t even need to be at the end of term. Boys could be disappeared suddenly. I remember when I was quite new in first year three boys from the second year stuck my head down the toilet and flushed it.

The priest came in and caught them. That was the end of one boy’s vocation. He was called to Fr. Rector’s room and was never seen again. God must have been very disappointed with him and ‘unchose’ him.

God made a lot of mistakes. Not one of the thirty-one guys in my class, who were all selected by him as his special ones, made it through to the priesthood. I suppose the ‘spin’ would be that it was not Him who let us down but we who let him down.

I suppose, as they often said in sermons there, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.

Do you remember any of the Boys just disappearing? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Pope Francis Targets Comboni Missionary Style Cover-Ups

Comboni Missionaries and Pope Francis

This artcle was posted on Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel and posted here by Peter Roman. We put it through Google Translate and then made some grammar corrections – but we may not have them all.

Der Speigel

Pope Francis continues to fight persistently against child abuse in the Catholic Church – and against the systematic concealment of the acts that have caused so much suffering in the past with the victims.

On Wednesday, the Pontiff brought a new legal department into being, which may take action against bishops who do not strive enough to investigate suspected cases. The department is located in the CDF and it will be lead by an archbishop.

Pope Francis’s Commission

The Commission shall consist of 17 clerics from around the world. There will be, among others, a set of preventive measures for the dioceses designed to initiate a “process of healing.”

Eight members of the new department are women. Pope Francis took on five proposals of the Child Protection Commission at the Vatican, including the requirement that episcopal abuse of office in the future should be a canonically criminal offense.

This means, in practice, that bishops can be prosecuted if they do not investigate allegations of child abuse or maltreatment adequately.

Sexual Abuse Victims

Victims representatives had urged the Vatican for years to finally do something about the cover-up such crimes and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed to journalists that bishops can also be prosecuted in the future if they do not take action to prevent sexual abuse.

Complaints against bishops who do not take action had been examined in the past, by one of three Vatican authorities, before being handed over to the Congregation for the decision.