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.



Comboni Missionaries | How I was ‘Called By God’ – My Vocation

Comboni Missionaries – The Sell

I had already decided, mainly because of Fr. Maloney and my mother’s pride, that I wanted to enter the priesthood, that I was sold on the idea of being a priest. It seemed like a great career move. It had status. I had also wanted to be a footballer and play for Scotland but this seemed equally as good.

So, when Fr. Tavano hit town when I was just 10 years of age I was an easy sell. He had been sent by the missionary order the Verona Fathers, an offshoot of the Jesuits, to find boys who would become priests.

Greenock was a fertile area for him as he grabbed five boys on the trip. Greenock was a place, in those days, where the British Army were able to grab lots of boys to join up. It sounded great – certainly compared to a life in Greenock. OK, you night go to war and have people shoot at you – but at least in the Army that was just a might.

Great Salesman for Comboni Missionaries

Fr. Tavano really sold. He would have made an excellent salesman in another profession. He sold and he sold and he sold. He made the college, where we would be living, sound like an upmarket holiday resort. Then there was the opportunity of foreign travel to exotic Africa when you became a priest.

He told us that we would have a tour of the surrounding district every Wednesday. Little did we know that this would be virtually the only time we were allowed out of the grounds. Even this was heavily supervised. The junior head boy would be at the front and the priest who was head of the junior school, Fr. Pinkman (of him, more later), would be at the back.

Liam Gribben

One of the Greenock boys, Liam Gribben, who joined at the same time as I did felt hard done by as regards the walk around the locale. He had thought that these would be bus tours. After all the local bus company in Greenock, Doigs, regularly advertised tours to places like Loch Lomond at advantageous rates. Unfortunately for us these rates were well beyond the means of our parents.

Maybe he had yearned to do something like that. Maybe he had seen the ads and begged his parents to go. Now there was an opportunity to go on a tour every week.

However, Fr, Tavano was a born salesman and a tour was how he described the weekly walk. I bet he would have sold lots of houses or second hand cars. Unfortunately for us he was not just selling us a commodity that we could sell on. He was selling us a philosophy and a way of life.

With slides of the college and Africa and a description of the lifestyle, he was on a winner. At the end he asked the 10 and 11-year-old boys who wanted to come. I remember that quite a few hands went up. Mine was one of them.

I don’t know what happened to the others. Perhaps their parents told them not to be so daft. Mine were proud of me and proud that the local priests were so proud as well. I volunteered myself they said. It wasn’t down to any of them at all.

Special Summer

It was a great summer. I was special. I was going to become a priest. I had a vocation. I was chosen by God. I was specially picked out of so many other people by God. I was to be his chosen one.

By God those were heady days for a ten / eleven year old (my birthday was in June).

Other people were desperate to know what a vocation was like. How did I know I was called by God? What did it feel like? It was like I had the secret of life, the Holy Grail.

To be perfectly frank I was as in the dark as they were but I explained it all to them – like it was explained to me. They nodded as I explained – but I could see that they still felt a bit on the outside.

My Vocation to the Priesthood

I was not on the outside. I was right bang on the inside. I was chosen and they were not. I must admit it was hard not to get a superiority complex. How could you not when God had specially picked you out? He wanted you and not the rest of them. He didn’t want them. He wanted you.

And I was only just reaching my eleventh birthday. Life was so full of hope. This was the sixties when hope abounded among the young anyway. And the rest of them weren’t even God’s chosen ones.

We had it in spades!

A Gang of Brothers

I was put in touch with the other guys who would be ‘entering the priesthood’ as we thought at the time. In total there were five boys from Greenock, including myself. It was a particularly good catch by Fr. Tavano. I don’t think that he got as many anywhere else including London.

We spent the summer together – the Chosen Few. It was a time of great optimism. We had a whale of a time together. I remember that we hit it off greatly and we laughed a lot – in fact a hell of a lot. It seemed that people chosen specially by God had quite a lot in common. We were like brothers in arms. In fact looking back perhaps that was the greatest summer of my life. Life stretched out long in front of us – and we were going to be in God’s special legion.

We really believed that we were all going to be priests – the whole five us. We felt that we had already passed the audition. We believed that we had already been selected, that all we needed now was the training.

Vocations Lost

Fr. Tavano didn’t tell us otherwise – although he must have known. It seems that only about one in twenty of the boys ‘chosen by God’ in this way actually make it through to the priesthood.

Some of them leave having ‘lost their vocation’ along the way. The majority, though, are simply ignominiously dumped. There remains the strong suspicion that some were dumped to save paedophile priests from being found out when the boys got a little older and wiser.

Can you imagine how it feels to be selected by God and then dumped by his emissaries on earth?

What would you do after that?

I remember once reading that John Lennon said that when the Beatles broke up when he was in his late twenties he wondered “what do you do after you’ve been a Beatle?”

When Your Vocation is Gone

I think that, to an even greater extent, we could ask the same question. “What do you do after you’ve been specially chosen By God – and then he no longer wants you”?

The answer sadly for many of those who were rejected is ‘not much’.

As I said, only about one-in-twenty of those ‘chosen by God’ actually make it through to the priesthood and Fr. Tavano didn’t tell us about that when we signed up. We thought we were already there.

We were called by God – and then, seemingly, he dumped us because we had become’defiled’ by one of his servants.

Comboni Missionaries Blog has Helped Me Recover

Comboni Missionaries

This was written by Boy X who has contributed previous articles about his abuse.

I would just like to say a few things about the blog. The last time I had something posted on the Comboni Missionaries blog was at Christmas. I said that I didn’t know if I had moved forward or not. I was feeling very low, Christmas does that to me,

Since then,I have realised that moving forward doesn’t mean I should feel any happier or content. Maybe, sometimes, the road to salvation really is through hell and I probably will feel a lot worse before things can get better.

St Peter Claver College, Roe Head, Mirfield

I still am very confused about everything but recently I decided to ask for help. I’ve seen a psychological wellbeing practitioner and I’m being refered on to someone who will help me. For the first time in my life I have told someone,face to face, what happened to me at Mirfield.

So I have moved forward and I’m only where I am now because of the Comboni Missionaries blog. Coming across the blog enabled me to say, albeit anonymously, what I experienced at Mirfield and how those experiences affected my life.

The blog led me to talking over the phone with Mark Muray who has helped me tremendously. From not being able, all my life, to even think about Mirfield, I have now got to the stage where I have hope – hope of not being too frightened of my memories, hope that confusion will turn to some sort of ordered thought, hope that there is some light at the end of it all.

Father John Pinkman and Bishop Lorenzo Ceresoli

My memories do frighten me. I can see the face and feel the presence of Fr. Pinkman clearly, as clearly as if he was in my life right now. I can see Father Ceresoli clearly too (now Bishop Ceresoli),

They are in my life. I said my goodbye to Fr.Pinkman but he has never left me. I need to be able to step away from them.

I also see the faces of my friends at Mirfield. They comfort me. I feel I can never let go of them. They matter to me.

The logical part of my mind tells me they are long in the past, but I know how real they are. I see them every day.

Click on Comboni Missionaries – They still control me. I’m still at Mirfield

Comboni Missionaries Other Names

They are known in English-speaking countries as the Comboni MIssionaries (ex-Verona Fathers), in Italy as Missionari Comboniani, in Spanish-speaking countries as Misioneros Combonianos, in German-speaking countries as Comboni-Missionare and in Portuguese-speaking countries as Missionarios Combonianos.

See Boy X – My Last Goodbye to Pinkman