Father Pinkman and My Interrogation

This is the follow-up to Father Pinkman Accused Me of Leading the Great Escape

It was published recently.

Third Degree

This was not the end of it though.

Soon afterwards, I got called up to Pinkie’s room. He started the grilling over again. I had to tell him who was going to be in the Great Escape.

Again and again I told him I knew nothing about it. I started to cry again and I kept on crying and crying and the tears were running down my face in streams.

On and on went the interrogation. He said he would only stop and let me go when I had told him everything.

I had nothing to tell, though.

“I know that someone is organising it” he said. There was no way out for me as I had nothing to tell him.

Capitulating Under Interrogation

Eventually, after what seemed like ages he said “If it’s not you who is leading it who is it then?”.

“I don’t know” I said crying relentlessly.

“Is it Locke and McGinnis” he asked.

They were my two best friends.

Here was a way out. I could say it was them and the pain would stop. The interrogation would be over and I could go free. I could escape with just one word.

But I couldn’t do that I also thought. It wasn’t them (It only ever existed in Pinkie’s fevered brain).

“No” I said.

“It is them isn’t it” he said. “You’re not telling me because they are your friends”.

Oh my God, the interrogation fever was being turned up again. “Oh no!” I thought.

“It is them isn’t it, Locke and McGinnis”.


“Yes” I said and in one fell swoop I was free – except that my two best friends never spoke to me in a friendly way ever again after they had been brought up and grilled like me.

Pinkie even told them that it was I that had accused them. I denied it but they never believed me.

When I’ve read of supposed miscarriages of justice where the accused has made a full confession and then retracted it saying that he was under duress to confess I am as cynical as the next man.

But when I think back that is exactly what I did. I was under such duress that when given the opportunity to finger my two best friends I did just that, so that the grilling could stop and I could leave the room.

Biggest Regret

Perhaps that is my greatest regret of all the time that I was there. I cracked and got my best friends into trouble. They never knew the circumstances of it. After all, I had denied it and so could not go back and tell them what had actually happened.

Locke got expelled at the end of the term and never came back. I was never friendly with Frank McGinnis again who had been my best friend for the best part of two years. He never spoke to me again. We were never friends again and I had to make a new set of friends in third year. I later found that he had been expelled in summer 1967 – at the end of the term after I got suspended for a year.

Even though I was under intense pressure I still should not have cracked. I was a boy of 12, though, being psychologically tortured by a cruel psycho who sexually preyed on boys as young as eleven and who was scorned by me as he saw it. I state this in my own defence.

But in my heart of hearts I should still not have cracked and ‘handed over’ two innocent friends.

Difficult Year

The rest of second year was quite difficult as I had to hang around with people that I hadn’t been all that friendly with before. If truthful, I had to hang around with people who nobody had been all that friendly with before.

And I got constant reminders from my two ex-best friends whenever I bumped into them – which was frequently. Locke took it particularly badly. I think that Frank McGinnis might have eventually forgiven me but I think he wanted to show solidarity with Francis Locke who was slightly more dominant of the two.

Meeting Francis Locke Again

Several years late I was invited to Allanton in Dumfries where the Verona Fathers had a seminary for boys who joined at a later age. This invitation was both for new boys and for boys who had left the college previously but who might be interested in coming back. There was only two boys there that I knew – and one of them was Francis Locke.

He hadn’t forgotten. He didn’t say anything but he was not over friendly and spent most of the time with the other guy who neither of us had been particularly friendly with when at The College. He spoke to me when I spoke to him but there was no warmth. Indeed there was no warmth when he first saw me for the first time in several years. Not even a smile.

What treachery it must have seemed in his eyes and for no reason that he could see. What a wicked boy I must have been to him.

I never got the opportunity to explain to them – and even if I had done I’m not sure it was a good enough explanation.


I never thought of it then but there must have been someone else who fingered me in the first place. Pinkie wouldn’t have made it up. He really did believe this ridiculous story. Someone must have given it to him.

Was it some other poor boy in the same circumstance as I was that he was interrogating? That’s possible but that boy would not have been the person who put it into his mind.

One of the ‘in crowd’ must have told him this lie.


Perhaps it was to please him. We know already from my days as one of his ‘spies’ that this was an area that he gave some thought to. Could one of the boys have come up with this cock and bull story just to curry favour with him?

I’ll never know who was the one who decided to put me in the frame as the guy masterminding the Great Escape, or why they did it.

The Final Straw

As I got up to leave the room Pinkie looked towards me and I could see he was about to say something else. I could see the venom in his eyes.

“Just one more thing” he said. “You won’t ever be getting picked again for the school football team” he said with more than a little satisfaction.

He couldn’t have picked anything that could have hurt me more. And what’s more he must have known it.

I went into the room as an innocent twelve year old and I left it robbed of my favourite hour and a half of the week – and without any friends.

Father Wade – Our Question on Sex Threw Him Completely

Father Anthony Wade

By Martin Millar

Cherished MOBsters,

I want to begin by paying a special tribute to all the Mirfield Old Boys who have taken such pains in dedicating themselves to the cause of achieving justice and closure in regard to the abuse suffered.

As I listened to Mark Murray speaking on Radio 5 yesterday, I learned more of the man in 25 minutes than in the intervening years since the 2009 reunion.

With the support of people like Brian Hennessy, Gerry McLaughlin and all of the other men involved in the ‘settlement’ and subsequent battles for justice, Mark has soared in spirit and mind.

I look forward to further news coverage with keen interest.

La lutta continua!

Scripture Studies

On another note, and sharing a funny memory, I’d like to recount the tale of my attempt to introduce some risque humour into Fr Wade’s boring Scripture Studies classes.

We were always pressing him to allow us to discuss things like the Church’s attitude towards pre- and extra-marital sex, abortion, recreational drug use and all manner of things that had nothing to do with the Maccabees, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and Our Sweet Lord.

Birds and the Bees

He always prevaricated and would digress into topics that interested him, primarily whether or not the going was good at Haydock Park, Aintree or Royal Ascot.

Ambrose Mulroy always perked up at these points as he was really into the gees.

Finally, after relentless pressure, Wade agreed to have a Q&A session about the birds and the bees, and instructed us to organise a box of anonymous questions, any and all of which he solemnly promised to answer.

Tommy O’Donnell, Ambrose, Dave Harrigan, and possibly Angus Murray got together to write some questions.

Questions for Father Wade

I hit on a corker, and my mates were duly impressed:

‘Do girls masturbate and if so, how?’

Come the session, Wade proceeded to put his hand in the box and pulled out the screwed up pieces of paper. The first and second ones he picked were completely innocuous and he gave his usual anodyne responses.

Then we knew we had hit gold as he took the next one out. His pallor, unhealthily pale on one of his good days, went white, his jaw locked open, his hands trembling as he scanned the words.

He fumbled about not knowing what to do or say.

Great Victory

‘Read it to us father’.
‘I can’t’.
‘Why not?’

Long silence.

He got up and walked out of the class. We had won a great victory! We had taken the piss out of our pompous and ignorant teacher! Hah hah.

Science Teacher

The thing is, it was a genuine question, as well as a prank.

The only person who we could get a straight answer from to our questions about sex was a brilliant science teacher from one of the local Catholic secondary schools.

I’ve forgotten his name, but I do remember his lessons being hands-on and very stimulating.


Martin Millar (1968-72)

I’m Behind You says Mirfield Legend Jim Coffey

Jim Coffey

I have just seen and signed the petition, of which I was unaware – better late than never I suppose.

I have followed the brilliant, regular updates by you and so many others and finally get around to adding my tuppenceworth.

I was at Mirfield from 1960 when the college opened until 1966 when I progressed to Sunningdale, finally leaving in 1969.

I have always regarded my Mirfield days as essentially happy ones and a very formative time in my long and interesting life.

To now find that, like many other memories this, too, is devalued and corrupted by terrible events and cover-ups is to say the least a major blow.

Full Moral Support

I could go on but probably this is enough for the moment, except perhaps to say that you and Mark and Brian and all the others have my full moral support in your efforts to achieve apologies, compensation and – in whatever way possible – reconciliation.

I particularly appreciate the appeals for happy Mirfield memories and will try to respond in due course.

Father Pinkman Accused me of Leading the Great Escape

Leader of The Great Escape

Someone had told me about it. I can’t remember whom (it might have been Leo Murphy). I was in 2nd year at the time. The Boy told me that Pinkie thought that someone was trying to organise some great escape from The College. Supposedly I was the ringleader.

It was so ridiculous that I just said something to that effect and didn’t think any more of it. I was in 2nd year. If had wanted to go home I could just have stayed at home the last time I was home for Summer, Christmas or Easter. So could the other boys in the supposed ‘escape plot’.

Why would I, ‘the mastermind’, be putting so much thought into the Great Escape when I could simply stay home next time I was there? Why would I also arrange a mass breakout and escape? Why wouldn’t I just go on my own? Everyone could make their own decisions.

Many Miles from Home

It would be different if we were in our first term there and our ‘homesick’ letters were being ripped up.

For God’s sake I had to get myself 400 miles to Glasgow and then another 26 miles to Greenock after that. And I had to do it without any money. Even boys who lived just 20 miles away hadn’t made it.

It just didn’t make any sense at all.

I wrote it off.

Father Pinkman’s Approach

That was extremely stupid.

One evening Pinkie grabbed me and took me into the Form 1 / Form 2 classroom area. He said he had been ‘reliably informed’ that there was going to be a mass escape. Not only that, I was the ‘brains’ behind it and had been planning it for a while.

I mean, let’s forget, for a minute, that this was in a democratic and free country called Great Britain and that this was a school where anybody was free to leave or stay as they wished.

This wasn’t a prison camp in Nazi Germany or a Gulag in the Soviet Union. This was a bloody school in Yorkshire where boys who had volunteered to train for the priesthood were schooled.

The Accused

Let’s forget all that.

When he accused me, I, of course, denied it as it was absolute rubbish. Pinkie refused to accept this at all. He had completely reliable information. This was ‘a fact’ and there was no point in denying it.

He wanted to know the names of the people who were involved and when it was to take place. Of course, I couldn’t give him this information as it didn’t exist.

He was determined to have it. He launched into a diatribe about me being a ‘bad boy’ etc. I can’t remember now all that was said but it was constant like an interrogation, and I remember bursting into tears and sobbing uncontrollably.

This didn’t stop him though. He continued the interrogation. He went on and on demanding the names as I continued to sob and sob, but he wouldn’t stop. “I’m not letting you go until you tell me” he said. It was incessant. It really was like an interrogation. He was completely heartless. He was completely cruel. All he wanted was the information and I could go.

Father Grace Enters

Suddenly, someone burst in the door. It was Fr. Grace. He was a highly respected priest and he went on to become Fr. Rector later. He had been a ‘convert’ from the Anglican religion. He was not one of those people who had been taken away as a boy of eleven and trained for the priesthood but had seen a bit of ‘the other life’. He was highly respected amongst The Boys.

He was the English Literature teacher and damned good at it.

“What’s going on here”, he demanded in a very concerned and raised authoritative voice. I suspect now he might have been listening outside for a few moments.

Pinkie made some excuse but it was clear that Fr. Grace didn’t believe him. He seemed quite contemptious of him. One had always thought that the priests would always stick together – but that wasn’t what was happening here.

Fr. Grace asked me to explain what had been happening but I just said “Nothing”.

Sent Pinkman on His Way

He must have thought that Pinkie’s presence was intimidating me (which it most certainly was). He turned to Pinkie and sent him on his way, to go to his room.

Looking back on this and looking through the eyes of an adult it is obvious that Fr. Grace was well above Pinkie in the pecking order. Pinkie must have been around 23 or 24 and Fr. Grace must have been about 15-20 years older.

I don’t know what Fr. Grace thought was going on but he sure as hell knew something was up – and he knew it was Pinkie’s fault and not mine.

Father Grace Asked Again

When Pinkie was gone he asked me again what had happened.

“Nothing” I replied.

“Come on, you can tell me. I can make sure that if you tell me that he won’t give you any problems again”.

“Nothing” I said.

He tried to convince me that he would make sure I would be all right if I told him what had happened.

Could Have Done for Pinkman

This should have been my moment. Looking back on it now, if I had spilled the beans it might have preempted events by at least a year. I might even have survived at The College. I might even have become a priest.

But I didn’t believe him. In my world Pinkie was the king. He was supreme. What he said went. Reporting him to another priest would be tantamount to ‘vocational suicide’ as I saw it.

I did think about it. My judgment, though, was that Fr. Grace couldn’t stop the all-powerful (in our eyes) Pinkie.

Horrible Wrong

I was wrong. Horribly wrong.

There was nothing Fr Grace could do. I could see he wanted to. He ruffled my hair in a fatherly way which made me sob even more. It was perhaps the first and only tactile kindness I had been shown in my whole time at the college by a priest. I burst into tears.

“OK, off you go then” he said.

I went upstairs to go to the toilet.

Guess who came in?

Yes, you’ve guessed it. It was Pinkie rubbing his hands together very animatedly.

Taken Aback

“Not you again!” I said with disbelief at the reappearance of my tormentor while bursting into further tears.

That really was more than you could say to a priest but I was getting beyond reason expecting my ordeal to start again.

Surprisingly, Pinkie seemed a bit taken aback and on the defensive. He wasn’t the aggressive tormentor of a few minutes ago.

Needed to Know

He wanted to know just one thing. “What did you tell Fr. Grace?”

“Nothing”, I said.

“Are you sure” he said.

“Yes” I said with exasperation expecting a telling off.

“Good” said Pinkie and slunk off through the toilet door.

If I had only known. I had him by throat and didn’t realise it. He knew it though. That’s why, even though he had been sent scuttling off to his room, he had to stick around to know what I had said.

He knew the game could well have been up for him. He needed desperately to know.

However, I had told Fr. Grace nothing – and Pinkie had survived.

English & Welsh Bishops Receive Comboni Missionaries Abuse Document

Conference of Bishops

Members of the Conference of Bishops of England and Wales have a received a copy of Brian Hennessy’s Document on the Comboni Missionaries Reaction to Clerical Sexual Abuse accusations.

The contention of this document is that the Comboni Missionary Order has committed hierarchical victimisation of a group of ex-seminarians by failing to report paedophile priests of their Order to law enforcement agencies:

–  have failed to follow the procedures of Nolan, Cumberlege and safeguarding procrdures,

–  have failed to follow the instructions of Canon Law and

–  have failed to follow the Order’s own Code of Conduct.

In doing so they failed to acknowledge the suffering of Victims and refused to have any dialogue with them and have even been openly hostile to some victims even knowing that at least one of those victims was suicidal.

La Repubblica

The leading Italian newspaper La Repubbluca has reported these incidents on both their TV and copy news outlets and are now in the process of lobbying the Vatican on these issues.

In the United Kingdom the story has already been covered by the BBC, Channel 4, the Telegraph and the Times – and an hour long documentary film is in consideration of being made for a major tv news outlet.

The document calls for action at many levels: CDF at the Vatican, the Pontifical Commission on Child Abuse, the Bishops Conferences of England&Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and at national and Regional civil/political levels.

The Group of ex-seminarians have also been represented on the Home Office Committees that have contributed to establishing the format and TORs of the forthcoming committee into the conduct of institutions in relation to child abuse – and will be participating in the forthcoming Inquiry.

Comboni Missionary Order

There should be no doubt that the Bishops of the British Isles will be challenged by the media for their views on these matters and any lack of clear decision or direction will meet with a degree of derision.

This would be unfortunate given that the Bishops’ conferences have given such a clear and outstanding lead through Nolan and Cumberlege and the consequent safeguarding procedures now in place.

Regrettably the Comboni Missionary Order have ignored every guidance and rule that pertains to child abuse.

The Bishops of the British Isles are called upon, therefore, to make an example of the Order and take action in accordance with the recommendations in Chapter 10 of the attached document -or otherwise be held to account by the British public for any inaction or obfuscation.

by Brian Hennessy


I think that most people will agree that Brian has produced a fantastic, and very detailed, document which gets to the heart of the matter. It shows how the Comboni Missionaries have not followed their own procedures nor those of the Catholic Church.

It documents all the incidents of abuse that he can and all the abusers. It will be a powerful document in the coming days.

It will be very useful when the Home Office Panel for Organisational Clerical Abuse sits and this document is presented to them.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Brian for taking the time out of his life to put all of this together in support of Mark Murray’s achievements and of others.

I’m So Ashamed Says Comboni Missionaries Priest as Walls Crumble

Comboni Missionaries

Brian Hennessy, one of the Mirfield 12, has worked very hard to put all our information together in a document called “The Comboni MIssionary Order of Verona, Italy and Their Response to Child Sexual Abuse”. It documents all instances of abuse, the abusers and those in the Order who were told about the abuse.

It also documents the Comboni Missionaries own rules and procedures, as regards sexual abuse by clerics, and shows how they did not follow them properly.

It shows what the procedures that the Catholic Church have recommended be followed in instances of clercial child sexual abuse. He shows how they didn’t follow those either.

Home Office Panel

The document is a masterpiece and will be presented to the Home Office Panel on Insitutional Child Sexual Abuse which has been set up by Government Minister Theresa May and will investigate the Comboni Missionaries. It is an encyclopaedia of our case and the abuse by the Comboni Missionaries at Mirfield.

After sending the document out for correction to those amongst us involved, he then sent it out to UK Catholic Bishops and to the leadership of the Comboni Missionaries asking for comment. None was forthcoming so he sent it out to 800 individual Comboni Missionaries.

The case is compelling.

One Decent Comboni Missionary

He got abusive responses from two Comboni Missionaries who hadn’t even read it. There’s none so blind as those that won’t see. There’s none so deaf as those that won’t hear. However, one Comboni Missionary took time out to read the whole document. It took him three hours.

Afterwards he emailed Brian back with the words “I am so ashamed”. With his Vow of Obedience, this is a very brave man. We won’t give his name or any indication of whom he is.

Parallel Universe

It just shows you that the truth will out. It will have its day. One sometimes wonders if one is living in a parallel universe, where the rules are all different.

Sometimes, in this parallel unverse, it seems that the ‘wrongdoers’ are those who have been abused rather than those who abused and those who have, and are, covering it up.

This is not just true amongst the Comboni Missionaries but even amongst some of the Boys, themselves, some of whom were even abused themselves.

Theology Lessons

There were only 3 replies to Brian’s email, two negative and one positive. We don’t know what the other 797 think. However, we would reckon that there must be at least a few more decent men amongst these 800 ‘holy men’ who can recognize right from wrong – especially after so many lessons in Theology.

The current attitude of the Comboni Missionaries (and some of their apologists amongst the Boys) to Mark Murray and the other members of the Mirfield 12 cannot last forever.

They won’t apologize and they won’t even admit that the abuse took place even though Brian’s tome documents more than 1,000 instances of sexual abuse on 18 different boys by several different Comboni Missionary priests over two decades.

Father Enrique Sanchez

This rotten edifice, this lie that is the Comboni Missionaries, will surely come tumbling down. “I’m so ashamed” said this decent Comboni Missionary. He shouldn’t be. It wasn’t he who perpetrated the abuse. It wasn’t he who covered it up. However, he knows some people who did – and it goes right to the very top of the Order.

Father Sanchez, Tear down those walls!

Tear down those walls!

Comboni Missionaries Abuse | Mark Murray Interview on Channel 4

Father Romano Nardo

After his sensational visit to Italy to confront his abuser, Father Romano Nardo. Mark Murray was interviewed for 5 minutes for Channel 4 News.

If you want to read and hear the interview click on Channel 4 Interviews Mark Murray

Channel 4 report that Mark secretly recorded an interview with Father Roman Nardo in the Comboni Missionaries House in Verona Italy. He had been given the camera watch by la Repubblica newspaper.

Comboni Missionaries Sexual Abuse

Mark had been abused by Nardo 45 years before repeatedly and had been asking for a meeting with Nardo for 45 years.

He had been repeatedly turned down.

So, he took matters into his own hands and flew to Verona to meet Nardo. He took them off guard. They hadn’t expected that.

Channel 4 News asked him all sorts of questions about the meeting, which you can read in the article and watch the video of the interview.

Forgive Me Says Nardo

In a crucial part of the video, published on La Repubblica’s website, Nardo comes close to admitting his abuse.

Mark says “Romano Nardo, do you know who I am? I think you do. Mark Murray. Do you remember me?”

Said Father Nardo “If it is my fault that you bear a heavy cross, I believe I should ask the Lord for forgiveness. I’m sorry. I’m very sorry.”

West Yorkshire Police

Mark believes that Nardo should be arrested, put on trial and imprisoned. However, Nardo is being protected by the Comboni Missionaries and they won’t hand him over to West Yorkshire Police who belive a crime has been committed and want to interview him.

Mark, however, says that he forgives Nardo.

Those who he cannot forgive, he says, are the Comboni Missionaries, and especially those who have frustrated his efforts to get justice and to get to meet with his abuser, Father Romano Nardo, over many, many years.

Even though there is a new Pope who is very much against clerical abuse, the Comboni Missionaries remain in the past.

Comboni Missionaries in Denial

Despite the mounting evdience, the Comboni Missionaries will not apologize, will not hand over a suspect for questioning to police and will not even admit that any abuse happened at Mirfield.

That is despite there being almost 1,000 documented instances of abuse on 18 boys at Mirfield by multiple priests and a lay teacher over two decades in the Sixties and Seventies.

Till the Comboni Missionaries admit the abuse happened and apologize to those who were abused then the campaign by the Mirfield 12 will continue.

I Suspected Bede Mullen had Been Abused | I Was Right

Bede Mullen

I met Bede Mullen at the 4th reunion I went to.

He was 54.

The last time I had seen him he was 12 years old.

I was really looking forward to seeing him again – especially as there were unsolved questions, answers he hadn’t given me all those years before.

Frank McGinnis had been my best friend – but Bede would have been one of the ones that I hung about with most, alongside Francis Locke, Martin Murphy and Peter O’Hagan.

Not Coming Back

So, it was a bit of a shock to me when, as he was packing his bags for the looming holidays, he informed me that he wouldn’t be coming back after the holidays. He was going to be staying home.

This sort of thing happened far too often and was both destabilising and upsetting.

Often people would go home from their Christmas or Easter or Summer Holidays and simply wouldn’t come back. Some of them had decided against it, either because they were homesick, or they had lost their vocation, or it was too strict, or they just didn’t fancy it any more.

Others were told not to come back, often via a letter sent to their parents (as we discovered long afterwards).

The Disappeared

It didn’t just happen during the holidays. It could happen during the term.

Someone would just disappear. You might, or might not, hear the reason why they had been ‘disappeared’. You were seldom officially told – but there were always rumours. The Rumour Mill is strongest in closed societies.

When I was quite new, and in first year, three guys suddenly grabbed me in the toilet, picked me up, and tried to put my head down the toilet as they flushed it.

It was quite terrifying at the time.

They were very unlucky that Pinkie happened to wander into the toilet just as they were doing this (he had that knack).

The three were asked to accompany Pinkie along to Fr. Rector’s office immediately.

Two of them were given warnings as to their future conduct. The guy that was considered the ringleader, a guy called Kerrigan, was instantly expelled. His vocation disappeared with the flushed toilet water.

We were never to see him again.

<h2?Sent Home Quickly

They got rid of miscreants very quickly. There was none of that phoning your parents to tell them to come and collect you whenever they could, which might be in a few days time.

They were gone instantly.

They had to make their own way home, perhaps to distant parts, at the age of as early as eleven. I doubt if they even gave them money. They might have been given the money that they had themselves handed in at the start of each term.

Bede’s Decision

Bede, however, had decided to go home of his own volition. He had decided not to come back after the holidays.

I didn’t know that I was the only person he told this to till 44 years later. Bede didn’t remember telling anybody.

When I spoke to him at the reunion he told me that he didn’t dare tell any of the priests. He was afraid that they would maybe lock him up and not let him go home. This may seem ridiculous now, and they almost certainly would have done no such thing – but the way they acted in those days, it wasn’t quite outside the realms of possibility.

I immediately wanted to know why he was leaving so I could convince him into staying. Most people just disappeared or didn’t come back and you seldom knew the reason why.

This was one tragedy, a loss of, effectively, a brother, that I could prevent and prevent it I thought I could – but I had to know the reason why he wanted to leave first.

And he wouldn’t tell me that.

Related to Father Pinkman

He came close to telling me several times as he packed his suitcase on his bed. He even told me that it had something to do with Pinkie.

Even by this stage I had heard people talking about Pinkie’s Boys, the ones that he used to invite up to his room, his special boys in his special boys club that I wasn’t a part of.

I would have liked to have been part of it and had wondered why I hadn’t been, I had usually been part of the ‘in crowd’ with the teachers at school before – but I was to get my invitation soon.

Connected To Pinkman

The strong inference was that it was something connected to Pinkie and that Bede felt that he had to get out of there.

It wasn’t that he disliked the college.

He didn’t!

It wasn’t that he didn’t have friends.

He did!

It wasn’t that he didn’t have a good time there.

He did!

But, for some reason, that I couldn’t quite fathom, he had decided he had to leave it all behind. He decided that, despite all the good things that had happened there, and despite the friends he had made, he had to leave us all behind, his new family, and get out, never to return.

Never Came Back

It was something I had often pondered in later years, i.e. why Bede just had to get out of a place that he loved. Why did he give up his vocation, his friends, that beautiful place and just leave, never to come back?

Of course, looking through the eyes of a twelve year old I couldn’t understand it at all.

It just seemed crazy.

However, putting the same data through the eyes of an adult, I came to a completely different conclusion.

I didn’t know for certain that something had happened to him with Pinkie, but I was pretty sure that this must be it.

Previous Reunions

I even told the other guys at previous reunions that I thought that something had happened to him and that this was the reason for his departure. Some of them were a little sceptical – but I was pretty sure of it.

He wasn’t keen on coming to the reunion. He told Joe Colby that he had some bad memories of the place and didn’t really want to have anything to do with it. It was in his past – a past he wanted to forget.

It took a lot of convincing by Joe and many emails and phone calls to convince Bede to come.

But Joe warned us all.

Bede didn’t want there to be any discussion about Pinkie – and Joe had promised him that there wouldn’t be.

Bede Mullen’s Return

On the first night of the reunion, we all went out but Joe decided to wait in the hotel for Bede who was supposed to be arriving at seven o’clock.

It was twenty past seven when I decided to go and join the others in the pub.

Another half an hour later Joe joined us.

Bede hadn’t arrived.

“He won’t come” I said. “He’s thought better of it”.

But Joe and Danny Curran were convinced that he would.

Back at the Hotel

About half an hour later Joe and I decided to go back to the hotel. When we got in the door, Joe decided to check the guest book to see if he had arrived.

His name wasn’t there.

Just at that, someone came out of the breakfast room.

I thought he might have been a fellow guest. Joe seemed to think he was someone who worked there.

“Have you seen our mate Bede Mullen?” Joe asked.

“Yes, he’s arrived” said the guy.

“Where is he now? What room is he in?” asked Joe.

“He’s standing in front of you” said Bede.

And Bede was back.

Forty Two Years later

I’d had an inkling it was him whilst Joe was asking him questions.

My 12-year-old friend was back – as a 54 year old.

I still have a very clear picture of Bede as a 12-year-old – a very clear one as he packed his suitcase that day. It is one of those pictures that you have that stay with you forever whilst you forget most other things.

It was great to see him once again – but more than a little frustrating that I couldn’t ask him why he had left. What was it that Pinkie had done?

Talking About Pinkie

Strangely, after telling us not to mention Pinkie while Bede was there, it was Joe that brought the subject up – after we were back in the hotel after having had a meal and a few drinks on the first night.

We actually tried to change the subject a couple of times or tried to make it sound as if it Joe was talking about something else. But Joe was either oblivious to this or was having nothing of it – and surprisingly enough Bede wasn’t uncomfortable with it.

Perhaps he had made the major step in deciding to come at all. Perhaps this was just another smaller step along a path that he decided he was going to take anyway.

Perhaps he expected it.

Bede’s Confirmation

He never did tell us exactly what happened. It’s not the kind of thing that you ask someone unless they volunteer it (at least guys don’t).

But he did confirm that something bad had happened with Pinkie and that it had happened in Pinkie’s room and it had happened more than once.

We didn’t need to know the exact details.

He said that it had caused him a lot of problems in his life.

He surprised us all by saying that he had only just told his wife about it the previous week after many long years of marriage.

He must have taken the decision then, before he even got to us, that the genie was clamouring to be let out of the bottle – and that he was going to let it be opened.

Affected Bede’s Life

Bede had been a very dignified 12-year-old and he was still a very dignified 54-year-old.

He told us that what had happened with Pinkie had affected his life. He had obviously never shared it with anyone till just the previous week, 44 years later, with the person closest to him in his life, his wife.

How surprised she must have been about hearing this secret that he had borne by himself all those years.

The genie was out of the bottle – and I think deep down Bede was pleased. Perhaps pleased is the wrong word. Bede was now comfortable with it – or at least comfortable enough with it now that he could talk about it.

This was all well and good – but the big test would be the next day.

Tour of the Seminary

We were scheduled at 11am the next day, to go on a conducted tour of our alma mater St. Peter Claver College, Roe Head, Mirfield.

What would Bede feel then?

Could he handle that after 44 years away?

I had done the tour twice previously.

This year, Allison, our guide from Hollybank School, which our seminary had become, took us to the usual spots, the old classrooms, the dormitories, the Refectory, The Chapel etc.

There was a lot of reminiscing about old times and ‘this is here we used to….” etc.

But I knew that the big one awaited us.

Pinkie’s Room

We came around the corner from the dormitories and I knew what was coming.

Led by Allison, everybody had actually gone past it altogether and Allison was now showing them the Chapel.

I saw Bede towards the back who hadn’t walked past it yet.

I said to him “that was Pinkie’s room”.

There was no need to tell him of course. He hadn’t casually walked past it like the rest but had hung around. I looked through the thin glass slat in the door, that hadn’t been there 44 years ago, into the room.

What would Bede’s reaction be?

When I took my face away from the slat in the door, Bede walked forward and peered in too.

That was enough for me.

Into Pimkie’s Room

I walked a few steps forward and asked Allison if she could let us into that room.

Only she, Bede and I went in, as the others were more interested in the chapel.

I could see tears well up in Bede’s eyes.

But he remained in control. He always did.


He motioned to the corner of the room. “The bed used to be there”. After a pause he pointed to another spot. “The table was there” and paused.

Like Jim Kirby previously, he was seeing events from forty odd years ago.

“A lot of things happened here” he said in his understated way, and for a brief moment he was far away in a time gone past.

Then he pulled himself together and said “It’s just a room. It’s just a room”. He looked at me, nodded his head and walked out the door.

And, in that instant, the demon who had tormented him, had finally been exorcised.

Comboni Missionaries Abuse Payout Not Admission of Guilt says Order’s Rep

Daily Telegraph

After La Repubblica’s article and video on Mark Murray’s trip to Verona to find his abuser Father Romano Nardo. the Daily Telegraph published an article on it along with an interview with Mark Murray.

The article is here British Man Confronts Catholic Priest He says Abused Him

Mark told the Daily Telegraph:-

“The Pope talks about cracking down on abusive priets but his message is not filtering down to the lower levels. It’s a form of secondary psychological abuse that compounds the original sexual abuse,” Mr Murray told The Telegraph.

“Nardo should be in a court of law and should go to prison. The missionary order have shown total disregard for the victims. It makes me very angry.”.

Abuse Payout by Comboni Missionaries

Last year, Comboni Missionaries paid out between £7,000 and £30,000 to 11 boys who said they were abused at Mirfield to a total of £120,000.

The comments on the abuse to the press by the Comboni Missionaries Order, certainly in the UK, seem to be softening a little. According Father Martin Devenish, the No. 1 Comboni mIssionary in the UK, as said to the Daily Telegraph:-

“It was with great sadness and regret that the Verona Fathers learned that a number of allegations of historical abuse had been made relating to our former junior seminary, St Peter’s, located in Mirfield, West Yorkshire.

“We condemn unreservedly any action which causes harm or distress to others, particularly children. We know that anyone subjected to abusive behaviour will experience suffering and we are dismayed to think that such suffering may have been caused to youngsters who attended our junior seminary.

“If that is the case, we are deeply sorry to anyone who was hurt whilst they were in our care at Mirfield and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.”

Although there are still  ‘ifs’ and ‘allegations’ in his statement this is a lot softer than previous statements he has made. Indeed, he told Mark Murray, when he called him, that he would get the police on him. Maybe things are gradually chaning in someparts of the Order.

Kathy Perrin of Catholic Church Insurance Association

However, according to Kathy Perrin of the Catholic Church Insurance Association, a Comboni Missionaries spokesperson, the payout wasn’t an admission of guilt.

She told the Daily Telegraph “The order chose to come to a settlement because they could not trace their insurance for the period in question so they would have faced a huge legal bill had it gone to trial,” she said.

“Everything happened an incredibly long time ago and two of the priests who were accused are now deceased. My clients simply don’t know what happened at Mirfield and don’t feel that it can be established now.”

There are three other current legal cases involving the Comboni Missionaries and ex-seminarians of theirs at Mirfield.

Mark Murray Meets his Comboni Missionaries Abuser at Last

Mark Murray’s Abuser

Many, many years ago, in a seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire, run by the Comboni Missionaries, Mark Murray was repeatedly abused by a priest of that Order whilst he was just 14 years of age.

The priest’s name was Father Romano Nardo. There was an element of masochism, too, as Nardo scratched a cross on his own chest and that of Mark Murray as well.

Nardo was there from Italy till the summer of that year to learn English before being transferred to the English-speaking Missions in Uganda.

Missions in Uganda

Mark was regularly in Nardo’s room being abused for four months. He was spotted by another priest coming out of Nardo’s room at 6am. Shortly afterwards, Nardo was transferred to the Missions in Uganda a couple of months early.

The abuse has severely affected Mark’s life and that of his family. In the late Nineties, Mark reported Nardo to the order and they promptly brought him back from the Missions in Uganda after 20 years service there.

They told Mark that Nardo would never be allowed access to children again. They moved him to one of their buildings in Verona, Italy.

West Yorkshire Police

Mark also reported his abuse to West Yorkshire police. In the late Nineties they tried to get Nardo extradited to be interviewed and to face charges. However, this request was turned down by the Comboni Missionaries saying that Nardo wasn’t mentally able to be interviewed over it.

Despite this, Mark has pictures of Nardo concelebrating mass many years after that.

Mark has asked to meet Nardo many times. He has also asked for an apology from the order. He has been in touch with the No. 1 Comboni Missionary in England, Father Martin Devenish, who told him he would get the police onto him.

Comboni Missionaries

He contacted Father Enrique Sanchez, who is head of the Comboni Missionaries worldwide, but was rebuffed by him too. He also contacted Father David Glenday, the ex-head of the Comboni Missionaries, who now has a senior position at the Vatican. He asked Mark to write a letter to Father Sanchez. This got him no further.

It was at an impasse. The Comboni Missionaries not only refused to apologise but would not even admit that any abuse had taken place.

This is despite there being over 1,000 documented instances of abuse of 18 boys in the Sixties and Seventies at the seminary in Mirfield by several different priests and a lay preacher.

Verona Fathers Trip

So, Mark decided to take the matter into his own hands.

A few weeks ago, Mark decided to fly to Verona to try to meet his abuser in person. After all, he knew where he was.

Instead of just doing that he was advised to contact the local press there – otherwise he could end up in an Italian police cell. A bunch of local priests would be more likely to be believed than he would be.

It’s just as well that he did as the Comboni Missionaries were not only unsympathetic but they accused him of being drunk and called the police.

La Repubblica Newspaper

Luckily, though, Mark had contacted La Repubblica, a major newspaper in Italy.

They gave him a camera disguised as a wrist watch – and so he had evidence of what took place – and that he wasn’t drunk.

When Mark arrived, he asked reception if he could go into the chapel there. After a while, he plucked his courage and asked reception if he could speak to Father Romano Nardo. She went to fetch him.

When Nardo came out, he knew who Mark was within seconds.

You can find the La Repubblica article and the videos of the meeting between Mark and Nardo by clicking on Comboni Missionaries Abuser Meeting

There is a not very good Google Translate into English version here

Channel 4 News

Mark was later interviewd by Channel 4 Television in the UK.

After all of this, the Comboni Missionaries have still not apologized, still do not admit any abuse took place and have moved Nardo to another location in case he is harmed by Mark Murray.

Indeed, they are threatening to sue Mark.

When will they ever learn!

When will they ever learn!

If you want any further information on Mark’s case or any of the other abuse cases at Mirfiled, ust contact us.