Mirfield 1964-69
Dumfries 1969-70
Sunningdale 1970-71

My 21 year old son Gerard was in Sweden with some friends, when he decided to plunge into a lake. He hit a rock and snapped his neck. His friends pulled him out and he was airlifted to Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, where he underwent surgery. I immediately flew out to be with him and got the disturbing news from the surgeons. Gerard is paralysed in both legs as well as his triceps, wrists and fingers. He won’t walk again. He has no movement from the chest downwards. He was flown back to UK by air ambulance and went to a stroke ward at the Lister Hospital, Stevenage. The ward was not ideal, it was a stroke ward, the average age was 70-ish, hardly the best environment. He did have a private room though and they allowed us to visit him at any hour. Only 20mins away we could visit him every day, sometimes twice. Miriam my wife always liked to call up last thing at night to brush his teeth and give him a goodnight kiss.

Then he was suddenly transferred to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. These had better facilities but the journey was now an hour each way. He also had to share a room.

Finally Gerard got the news he’d been waiting for for 10 weeks, that he had a bed at Stoke Mandeville. Moving day 17th Oct. His 22nd birthday. He said that it was the best possible birthday present.

It’s been a seismic shock to us and our lives will never be the same again. For the past few months the family has been in a very dark place. All we can say is that we’re gradually getting used to the light.

At this moment we don’t know what the future will hold. The sadness comes in waves. We want to provide him with the best possible medical and technological help. His friends are organising something and you’ll find the link below. I hope you will help me provide for Gerard’s dissabilty. This will last a life time.

Thank you.
Martin Murphy

Mirfield 1964-69
Dumfries 1969-70
Sunningdale 1970-71

Help raise £50000 to help Gerard, get the care and equipment he needs.

Weʼre raising money to help Gerard get the care and equipment he needs. Support this JustGiving Crowdfunding Page below:


Father John Clark’s Promise

Father John Clark (in his capacity as the Comboni Safeguarding Coordinator) promised me in 2008 when he travelled to Rhyl to meet me that Father Romano Nardo would never be around children and would never leave the Comboni Mother House in Verona.

The article below, which i saw for the first time last week, has been translated from the Pordenone newspaper “Il Gazzettino” and it shows that Father John Clark’s promise did not materialise.

Pordenone – Il Gazzettino – 14 Maggio 2015 – by Lara Zani – entitled:

Accuse di abusi in seminario
Missionario chiamato a difendersi


There were looks of disbelief, and open mouthed bewilderment in and around the diocese of Concordia-Pordenone, after the storm broke that Father Romano Nardo, 73, who was originally from the hamlet of Prata di Sopra, was emblazoned on the pages of La Rebubblca and had been accused of sexual harassment of a former boy seminarian.
The Religious, now in a protected place and guarded, is the leading figure in a video-recording in which he comes face to face in the Mother House of the Comboni Missionary Order of Verona with a man, aged 59 ,who accused him of sexually abusing him in the 1970s at the Mirfield Seminary in Yorkshire, England.

Father Nardo has never faced legal proceedings or been convicted of those offences, despite the fact that there was an internal investigation into the accusations in 1997 which determined that he had behaved inappropriately. Compensation was paid to a number of the boys who were at that seminary and a request for extradition by the West Yorkshire Police in the UK was never granted by the Italian authorities.

In Prata, where a brother of Father Nardo still lives and where Father Romano Nardo has returned regularly over the years, family members have preferred not to make any comment on the matter. Silence was also the only reaction from the diocese of Concordia-Pordenone.

The Comboni Missionary Order’s Provincial Superior in London, Martin Devenish, has expressed his condemnation, explaining, however, that he cannot laicise the priest.

Father Romano Nardo was a well known and respected figure in his place of origin, where his visits in the past were often the occasion for one of his lectures on the life of his work in Aduku’s mission in the Diocese of Lira in Uganda – where, according to reports by his brother, he was transferred immediately following the discovery of the young seminarian coming out of his room.

Combone Missionaries Attack on Those They Abused?

Joseph Gittos & Comboni Missionaries

12 men, myself included, who went to the Comboni Missionaries Seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire in the Sixties have said that they were abused by priests of the order while at Mirfield. The Comboni Missionaries paid out a total of £140,000 to them.

However, they have never admitted that the abuse took place, never mind apologized for it and have not changed their processes to make sure that it never happens again.

There are a further 3 ex-seminarians in legal despite with them and we know of others who were abused but don’t want to come forward.

The closest they have come to admitting the abuse is when they said that if anything did take place then they are sorry about it.

Abused Get Attacked

It is one of the sad things about abuse is that when the abused first reveals it, perhaps to family members, it is the abuser often who is seen as the problem and not the abuser. The instinct is to protect the abuser rather than give sympathy to the abused. Psychologists are very aware of this knee jerk behaviour.

The Comboni Missionaries not only won’t aologize for the abuse but they have actually attacked those abused by their Order. An instance of this was in Verona where they tried to criminally prosecute Mark Murray when he went to Verona where his abuser resides, to offer him forgiveness. This was thankfully thrown out of court by the Italian judge.

UK Attacks on the Abused

Now it seems they want to go on the attack in the UK.

I was told on September 23rd that there was a meeting at their house in Glasgow to which some ex-seminarians were invited. The proposal was that they  should recruit some ex-seminarians to go on the offensive against those that were abused. I am not able to say one way or the other if this is correct.

Joe Gittos and Memories of Mirfield

Earlier this week this appeared as Comments on the blog from Joe Gittos who was at the seminary at the same times as us. It refers to a series of articles that I posted of my memories of Mirfield, good and bad. Here it is:-

“Another piece of fiction from Gerry McLaughlin. Marks of 5,4,5 lowest in the history of the college? Don’t make me laugh,I regularly got 3’s. I wish some of the posts on the website were not based on fiction. I have seen Gerry refer to Maurice Eaton and him getting into escapades in 1966, when Maurice had long left Mirfield. I wish some of the contributors to this site would get real and not exaggerate would went on at Mirfield. Having been a seminarian from 1962 to 1967 I have a good insight into what went on at Mirfield and some of the stories written are pure fiction and exaggeration.”

I have no idea if Joe’s post is connected to the meeting in Glasgow or not and if he is part of the action to discredit those who were abused. It may just be coincidence taht this appeared now.

Low Conduct Marks

What I would say is that what I said, in the article, was that I received a low set of Conduct marks which shocked both myself and others. One of the boys said to me afterwards that that was the lowest Conduct marks ever at the school. I said that I felt terrible as being the baddest boy ever at the school. However, I was just describing my feelings on the day. I had no access then, or now, to the historic Condcut marks held by the college. I don’t know if Joe does.

As regards whether Maurice Eaton was still there in 1966 my memory says he was and others have concurred. However, it is possible that he was not the guy on the day of the bonfire in the story. It’s possible that it was John Carey (Titch) who most certainly was there along with Mick Palmer and Mick Wainhouse.

I’m sure that, like the Conduct Marks, Maurice Eaton’s departure date from Mirfield, it will all be on the files held by the Comboni Missionaries.

My Memories of Mirfield

I would say, though, that if that is all Joe found in my dozens of articles of my memories of Mirfield which is incorrect from 50 years ago then I would say that I would be pretty safe from getting Alzheimer’s for a few years yet.

It’s an old trick, much used by politicans, i.e. find one or two things which may be incorrect and then take the leap of saying that this shows that it is all ‘fiction’.

It certainly is not!

Shame on you Joe

If Joe is part of this new campaign to attack those abused on behalf of the Comboni Missionaries he should be ashamed. That’s especially as he revealed, at the reunion, that he had been the victim of some abuse at the college himself, albeit of a more minor nature.

You said, Joe, that you had never told your iofe and kids about it.

How would they feel (and think of you) if they knew that you had possibly become part of a campaign to denigrate those who were abused at the college.

Exaggerated Claims of Abuse</h3>

You said ” I wish some of the contributors to this site would get real and not exaggerate would went on at Mirfield.”

One would presume you mean the accusations of abuse by at least 19 ex-seminarians. How would you know, Joe, if it happened or not? You were never present when it happened.

At least you are not claiming like the Combonis, that it never happened. you just believe, without any evidence at all, that it is exaggerated.

I was there when it happened!

Shame on you Joe!

I never expected this from you.

I would ask you to reconsider.

Father David Kinnear Glenday and Dawson Place


In Dawson Place, John McGovern and Pete Murray, my brother, were living there at the same time that I was there. I was preparing for my first mission posting.
Whilst living in Dawson Place I studied a short course in philosophy and African religions at the the not so far away Missionary Institute. The studies were to prepare me for my position of work on the Gulu Mission Farm in Northern Uganda.

During my period of study at both the Missionary Institute and Dawson Place, Father David Kinnear Glenday was my Spiritual Director.

Mark Murray



They ruined our lives in so many ways. They turned their back on us when they should have comforted us. They denied their wrongdoing when they should have asked our forgiveness. They have maligned us when they should have praised our courage to keep going. They turned their back on their Christian Gospel and walked on the other side of the road when they should have embraced those teachings and healed our wounds and bore our burdens on their own backs.



I have been asking myself that question for a long time – probably because it is shocking to me that someone who has professed a desire to do good in the world could then go on to betray the very essence of what “priesthood” is supposed to be all about. After all, the Catholic Catechism states that the sacrament of ordination “configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ’s instrument for his Church. By ordination the priest is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of Priest, Prophet, and King. The Priest is the defender of truth, who stands with angels, gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ’s priesthood, refashions Creation, restores it in God’s image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes.”

That amazing ontological change in the nature of a man at ordination either does or does not do what it says. In reality, the mental picture of a man who stands with angels and is “divinized” does not fit well with the historic, depraved and alarmingly still undiscovered levels of clerical child sexual abuse. Rationally, within “Christianity” the truth is that some two millennia of poetic licence has been interwoven in the Catechism deliberately by a clerical hierarchy to create a contrived illusion. That description of ordination in the Catechism is a fabrication. If true, a priest would be incapable of sin. Ergo: there are no “ifs” nor “buts”. The definition cited in the Catechism is proven to be false by evidence of the most heinous of sins and the clerical arrogance expressed is in dire need of humility.

The most realistic reason why a priest, psychosexually immature or not, would abuse a child – instead, for example, of seeking a sexual relationship with an individual categorised as an adult – is because he believes that, owing to the child’s immaturity and incomprehension, his ability to control his victim means that he will not be discovered. Hence, he will not lose face nor his position in the public clerical or civil realms. Apart from the fact of the inability of an innocent and gullible child to understand what is happening to them, we need to determine, therefore, what additional factors in the clerical “realm” might contribute to a cleric taking such a risk. I offer some possible explanations.

One fact is that a priest, realistically, can believe that he can get away with abusing a child precisely because the institution which has ordained him has adopted a hierarchy that self-promotes themselves as a uniquely holy caste that is set apart from their followers. It has always been the case throughout the history of mankind, from shaman to Levite to Pope, that a priest, both in practice and in theory, should be deemed to be beyond the reproach of other mortals. The priestly hierarchy achieves this by their adoption of the role of anointed mediator between God and man from cradle to grave. They impose themselves on the communities surrounding them as the appointed teachers of religious truths that only they have the knowledge and right to interpret. They project themselves as the sole and true guardians of esoteric doctrines that are the keys to the afterlife. Having created that concept, the priesthood then seeks to usurp each layperson’s birthright to shape their own path to destiny. This deprivation of the control of a personal spiritual and intuitive access to an afterlife is achieved by the clerical right to the imposition of religious texts, the creation of codes of laws and prohibitions, of rituals, invocations and, more importantly, interdictions, proscriptions and punishments. The latter are uniquely combined with the fearful prospect of exclusion from both the earthly community and sunlit eternity by excommunication.

The Catholic Church abhors the application of the word “priest” to the prophets, shamans and medicine men of both primitive or contemporary, alternative Christian sects or religious beliefs. They do so because it is essential that they claim total uniqueness from any form of ritualistic priesthood that preceded theirs or is today “other” than their own exclusive claim to that right and dignity. Sacrifice was always an essential ingredient of the function and the key to the power of priesthood. In Christianity the daily re-creation of the Sacrifice of Christ on a Cross for the salvation of adherents derives from that dominant feature of the New Testament. The same willingness of Abraham to sacrifice Issac on the altar of Mount Moriah in the Genesis story of the Torah is similarly a dominant feature of Judaism. Nevertheless, well before Christianity and the Israelite passage out of Egypt, and still today in remote societies, the priestly castes of men set themselves apart in the same way and have claimed for themselves, without exception, the knowledge by which their followers could access spiritual prosperity in both the here and now – and in an afterlife.

Those “other” priests of bygone days have sacrificed to the gods by the ritualistic slaughter of sheep, oxen or mankind. The “other” priests of today use mostly symbolic sacrifice for the same purpose. They similarly exchange their enigmatic powers of the bestowal of eternity and access to the eternal heavens for goods and riches. That exchange has always been a part of the ritual. In doing so both priest and shaman achieve a unique stature within their respective societies – and anoints them also with distinction, status and a degree of, if not actual, wealth. Thus, they became the ritual anointers of leaders and kings. They divined the astronomical clock and controlled the planting and reaping of crops. They became the all powerful institutions that monitor and marshal the lives of mankind in this world and into the next. To maintain their position in society, they, themselves, of necessity, have always had a need to at least “appear” to be beyond reproach from the same laws and prohibitions that they demand from their followers. It is the same today as it was in the past.

When they are found not to be beyond rebuke, it is essential for the survival of the institution of “priesthood”, both individually and collectively, to conceal their misdeeds by any means possible. Thus they have routinely denied their failings and removed the transgressor far out of sight so that they are also out of mind. Any form of admission or apology is not countenanced. The wringing of hands in public is considered to be counter-productive to the acceptance of their assumed, distinctive authority and powers. Instead, historically, they have washed their hands in public with an air of indifference, feigned reproach and deliberately imprecise declarations of innocence and victimisation.

Every civilization in every age has had its priests – from the primitive, ritualistic priests of the world’s oldest known 12,000 year old Anatolian temple site at Gobekli Tepe, an agrarian society where the world’s very first genetic cereal crops were harvested, to the temples of the Sumerians, Hittites, Assyrians, Minoans, Pharonic Egyptians, Israelites, Incas, Aztecs and modern Empires of both East and West. Few of those historic priestly classes have survived in any format at all. Most are now confined to the deep, archaeological layers of pre-history. They all rose to power by the same process of the control of man’s individual journey to the afterlife. They all believed that their institutions were immortal. Most failed because they became too powerful, too covetous of their wealth or discredited by their own misdeeds. Undoubtedly, some too ended through natural disasters which the priests, despite their claims of being the ordained intermediary between man and god, were unable to control or prevent. One way or another, the civilization of today will become a similar distant memory.

Mankind, confined to its small earthly globe in the over-arching, endless universe has a yearning to understand his place within it, but mankind will ultimately and manifestly reject all “spurious” claims to control its destiny. Parents cherish their children because they are their sole and often unconscious, but instinctive hope for the continuity of their own earthly genetic posterity. When depraved clerics destructively ravish their children they cause demonstrable harm to that child’s earthly future. In some cases, sexually abused children go on in later years, for complex reasons, to take their own lives. In doing so, they irrevocably destroy not only their own unique potential, but also their parents’ hopes and dreams. Those clerics who abuse children extinguish any authority, divine or earthly, they may have possessed to mark out and light up the path to the perceived future eternity of their lay followers.

Beyond and despite any good the Catholic Church achieves in this world, it is not impervious to the retribution that their own earthly evils and unproven heavenly claims can exert upon them. Their concept of priesthood can also become irrelevant in a world that is increasingly less willing to allow others to usurp their individual right to self-determination in both the practical elements of this world and in the ethereal vision of the next. The demonstrable accumulation of unspeakable wealth, the aggregation of claims to a monopoly of the only route to a spiritual world in a heavenly afterlife and, above all, their heinous abuse of the most cherished innocents of this world in all ages past and in the present will only serve to rapidly quicken the certain and inevitable extinction that awaits them.

Nardo and the Abuse of Trust. The Combonis and the Abuse of Trust

Attached to this posting is a photograph of the Comboni Missionary Romano Nardo with my family and myself. I came across it when my mother was sorting through her box of old pictures.

It was taken on a family day out to Llangollen Castle during Nardo’s stay with my family during the Easter of 1970. I am the child that is looking at the floor.

When I look back and think about Nardo’s visit that Easter, I recall – not that I gave it much thought at the time – that it created a difficult and uncomfortable atmosphere for my parents, especially my dad.

I had gone to Mirfield the previous September, as a lively, gregarious, playful, outdoor and mischievous child and returned home, with Nardo, during the Easter holidays of 1970, a subdued, unresponsive and – in my parents eyes – a completely different and unrecognizable son.

During the holiday I had little interest in my parents or my siblings. All I wanted was to spend time with Nardo; to the extent that I was awoken by him in the morning so that we could pray the morning breviary prayers together. The same took place in the evening for the evening prayers and vespers – we had to say them together. I found out later – through a statement that my eldest sister had given to lawyers – that my dad had found Nardo’s behaviour towards me both alarming and sinister.

On the occasion when I was sick and in bed, Nardo had asked if he could go upstairs and (for want of a better word) “comfort” me. It must have seemed a strange request. However, Nardo was a priest, what harm could it do. What harm indeed.

That very evening my mother’s chest must have swelled with pride as Nardo said mass – as he did everyday that he was with us – in our front lounge. My mum had a Comboni priest saying mass for her husband and her sons and daughters, here, right in her own house. A Comboni priest. A priest of the same order that she hoped and prayed her son would one day belong to.

Nardo did not only groom me for his own sexual gratification, he groomed and abused all my family through gaining their trust and using their hospitality as a means of sexually abusing me.

I am one of many seminarians at Mirfield that had their trust abused. My family is one of many families that had their trust in the Comboni Missionaries abused.

Mark Murray