Arrival at Mirfield | Comboni Missionaries

Arrival at Mirfield

In those days the train journeys were very long. My memory was that the train journey from Glasgow to Leeds lasted for 7 hours.

It was the start of a great adventure. I remember it was a very sunny and hot day (aren’t all your favourite days that way?).

Some of the parents came down to drop us off. We were in one compartment of the train and they were in the one next door.

Even Better

I remember arriving at the bus stop called ‘Robin’ presumably called after Robin Hood who was supposed to have had some connection with the area.

The place was even better than Fr. Tavano had described. It was in quite a few acres of ground. There was a woods – or a Copse as they called it. There was three different football pitches. There was a Grotto to our Lady on the lawn with Primula all around.

There was Fr. Cerea’s garden where he grew all sorts of flowers and vegetables.

There was a Recreation room where you could play Table Tennis, Snooker, Billiards, Chess or Draughts.

And to cap it all it was where the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne went to school.

Holiday Camp

This really was different from Greenock. This really was like a holiday camp. It was going to be fantastic. We were now living in a really great place and we were going to become priests and go to Africa to teach the natives about God at the end of it.

Little did we realise that the holiday camp would turn out more like a prison camp.

After our parents had departed on the first day I asked one of the 2nd year boys if we could have a look around outside and perhaps go down to the local town.

We couldn’t.

We were not allowed to leave the grounds. There was a wall about four feet high surrounding The College.

It might as well have been 40 feet.

Advertisements

Verona Fathers Reunion Announced

Comboni Missionaries Reunion

We received this from im Kirby, ex-seminarian at Mirfield and who works in the travel industry.

“I have just recently returned from Florida and was chatting with Liam Gribben. He will be in Ireland at his usual work conference from Wednesday the 20th May staying in Malahide which is close to Dublin Airport on the coast. He is staying at the Grand Hotel but would love to see if we can get a group together to go over and see him weekend of the 22nd May.

“The weekend is fixed so if you can come I hope you will and if so let me know as soon as possible and I will make arrangements for accommodation at good rates. You can all get easy flights into Dublin . We will make arrangements for people to be met at the airport, so don’t worry about transfers.

“I need to get a rate on hotels. The area in Malahide is beautiful and if we aim to arrive Friday we propose staying until Sunday. Hope as many of you as possible can come and please pass this on to others not listed above as these are the only e-mail addresses I have.

“Martin (Murphy), bring your guitar and I’ll do song books. Danny (Curren) bring the banjo!

“So guys you can either make it or not make it, the date is fixed and the venue. Don’t let yet another year go by again without a reunion and do ask others.

“Let me know as soon as possible if you can make it and so far Liam,Frank Barnes and myself are confirmed”.

Bank Holiday Weekend

It seems that it is a UK bank holiday weekend. Jim is sorting out the hotel and seeing who will give us the best rates.

A further email from Jim states:-

“Ask people to book the Friday and return either the Sun or Mon. Eamon told me tonight that flights from Glasgow are really cheap. Anyway Eamon is doing a wider e-mail tomorrow and hopefully we’ll get a few more to tag on. I will sort out the accommodation, you can let them know and I’ll keep price as best as possible.”

If you want to know more details contact Jim Kirby at jaskirby@hotmail.com

Comboni Missionaries |The Rise and Fall of My Vocation

Comboni Missionaries

This website was set up, originally, so that people could post their memories of the Comboni Missionaries (ex-Verona Fathers) and especially of their seminary in Mirfield from the early sixties to the mid eighties.

It has been dominated, recently, by bad memories of the appalling sexual abuse perpetrated by Comboni Missionary priests on young boys as young as 11 in their care. The cover up by the Comboni Missionaries continues to this day.

I had set down my memories of Mirfield and the seminary of St Peter Claver at Mirfield, Yorkshire a few years ago. I haven’t done anyting with them. They have just been lying in my Word folder, although I have sent them to a few of the ex-Boys.

Good and Bad Memories

What I’ve decided to do is to serialise them here. There are good memories and bad memories. I hope they entertain you.

It, also, shows the methods that Father Pinkman and Father Valmaggia used to lure, and groom, young boys. At the time I thought I was the only one. Now, it seems, that it was rife.

I have learned, that someone that I considered my best friend at Mirfield, Frank McGinnis, was being abused by Father Pinkman. I learned this around fifty years after the events took place – although he said some things to me, at the time, about it which I wodered at and didn’t understand at the time – but it seems obvious what he was talking about now.

I’ll publish the first episode shortly.

Paedophile Priests / Great Friendships

Incidentally, if anyone has any good memories of Mirfield, please send them in to us and we’ll publish them.

To me, it was a place with some bad memories but also lots of good memories. I made lots of friendships there – as well as being chased by paedophile priests.

Let’s hear your memories, good and bad.

Five Years in Jail for those who Don’t Report Abuse

Comboni Missionaries

The net is closing on those who were told about the sexual abuse of young boys as young as 11 at Comboni Missionaries Seminaries and didn’t report it to the authorities. Indeed, it will apply, also, to those who just suspected abuse but didn’t report it.

Indeed, it has become an election issue.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, said that there would be “Jail for those who turn a blind eye to child abuse”.

He announced that professionals who fail to act upon suspcions of child abuse could be facing up to five years in jail.

Changed Times

My goodness!

How things have changed.

First the Home Secretary, and now the Prime Minister, have come down heavily on the side of those who suffered sexual abuse as a child and heavily against not only the abusers but those who covered it up.

It is becoming more and more obvious who is on the right side of history and who is on the wrong side of history – those who were abused or those who covered it up and their apologists.

Front Page News

The story appeared in both the Telegraph and Guardian. Indeed, it is front page on both with the Guardian headline saying “PM: jail those who ignore child abuse”.

It’s just a shame that it could not be retrospective.

However, that doesn’t mean that existing laws could not be used to pursue those who covered up sexual child abuse at Comboni Missionary Seminaries and those who continue to do so at the very highest level of the Order.

Home Office Panel on Institutional Sexual Abuse

All will be exposed when the Home Office Panel sits. Comboni Missionaries who took part in the cover up will be legally obligated to attend and be questioned in front of the Parliamentary Committee and the nation. It will be televised.

Indeed, they could also make requests, backed up by EU Law, for those residing outside of the UK, to attend too.

End Game for Comboni Missionaries

It has taken a long time but justice is close at hand.

In chess terms, this is the end game now for the Comboni Missionary abusers, those who covered it up and their apologists amongs the Boys.

In poker terms, we’ll soon see what hands both sides have.

In David Cameron and Theresa May, those abused have two powerful cards in their hands – perhaps the King and Queen.

The Comboni Missionaries will soon find out that, no matter how many Jokers they have available, none of them will count in this game.

Abuse Woven Into British Fabric of Society says Theresa May

British Child Abuse

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has warned that Child Sex Abuse is ‘woven, covertly, into the fabric of British society’.

That’s both an astonishing, and very worrying, claim.

She has just announced that a new Home Office judge-led enquiry will look into child sex abuse BEFORE the 1970s.

Previously it had been only going to look at institutional child sex abuse from 1970 onwards.

Comboni Missionaries Abuse

This means that all child sex abuse perpetrated by the Comboni Missionaries in the UK  now comes under the remit of the enquiry.

That comes as very good news for those who were victims of abuse in the 1950s and 1960s in the UK at Comboni Missionaries seminaries.

It’s bad news for the Comboni Missionaries abusers and those that were, and are, involved in covering it up.

Tip of the Iceberg

Indeed, Theresa May stated that the public are not aware, yet, of the full extent of the scandal. She said that we have only seen just the tip of the iceberg yet.

The tone of what Theresa May says is important. This does not sound like a woman who wants to brush things under the carpet. This is a women who understands the full extent of the scandal – and wants something done about it.

This is very bad news for the Comboni Missionaries and their apologists and those who have helped, and are helping, them to cover up their sexual abuse of young boys as young as 11.

Most Appalling Abuse

 She said ‘We already know the trail will lead into our schools and hospitals, our churches, our youth clubs and many other institutions that should have been places of safety but instead became the setting for the most appalling abuse.

‘However, what the country doesn’t yet appreciate is the true scale of that abuse.

‘In my discussions with older victims and survivors and their representatives, I began to realise how abuse is woven, covertly, into the fabric of British society.

Blackpool Rock

‘During one of my first meeting with survivors, one lady said to me: “Get this inquiry right and it will be like a stick of Blackpool rock. You will see abuse going through every level of society.”

‘I fear she is right. I have said before and I shall say again, that what we have seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg.’

Theresa May said that the new terms of reference and the appointment of panel members for the Parliamentary enquiry into child sex abuse marked a new beginning for the probe.

Right Side of History

We will see now, as regards the Comboni Missionaries, who are on the right side of history.

I would say that those Comboni Missionaries who carried out abuse and who covered up abuse and those boys who helped them to and are helping them to, will be seen to be on the wrong side of history.

There are those who stand with those who were abused and those who stand with the coverers-up of abuse.

All will be laid bare soon.

I know which side I will be on.

It’s the same side as Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Foundations of abuse at Comboni Missionaries seminary in Mirfield

Comboni Missionaries

During the 1960s and 70s, and possibly into the 1980s, priests and brothers of the Comboni Missionary Order (formerly Verona fathers) sexually abused children as young as 11 years of age at their seminary in Mirfield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

A group of ex seminarians, The Mirfield 12, have successfully prosecuted a civil case against the Comboni Missionaries: a legal case remains outstanding. More ex seminarians abused by Comboni Missionaries have now come forward to pursue both legal and civil actions.

A culture of abuse existed at the Comboni Missionaries seminary in Mirfield. All of the abused have struggled to come to terms with the experience and to understand how it came about. Our concern was not only about the individuals who perpetrated the abuse but also the organisations which allowed this to happen, and is to this day in denial that any abuse took place.

A 2013 report from CEOP ‘The Foundations of Abuse:
A thematic assessment of the risk of child sexual abuse by adults in institutions’
provides some telling analysis of the way institutions operate to produce such fertile ground for child sexual abuse to take place. The key findings are below.

Key Findings

1) Children in institutional settings are not only at risk from adults who are inclined to abuse them sexually; but also from adults who either fail to notice abuse or, if they do, fail to report it.

2) Where institutions put their own interests ahead of those of the children who engage with them, abusive behaviours are likely to become normalised, potentially leading to sexual abuse.

3) The culture within an institution has a strong influence on the degree to which abuse might occur within it. Poor leadership, closed structures, ineffective policies and procedures together with the discouragement of reporting, facilitates a malign climate which colludes with those inclined to sexually abuse children.

4) Where institutions are held in high regard and respected by the communities they serve, positional grooming can be perpetuated, whereby offenders conduct social or environmental grooming and mask their actions by virtue of their formal positions within an organisation.

5) Potential risks from those with a sexual interest in children who pursue work in institutions can be mitigated by vigilant and effective leadership and management.

6) Intense loyalty and conformity of workers to the mission, norms and values of an institution can inhibit them from reporting concerns.

7) The historic nature of many cases currently exercising media attention, together with developments in safeguarding, might give a false perception that this type of offending can no longer occur. Offenders continue to exploit systemic vulnerabilities where they exist.

The full report can be accessed here

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/49-ceop-institutions-thematic-assessment/file

Mirfield

Fr. Fulvi visited us at home, and a weekend visit to Mirfield was arranged. My mum seemed especially keen for me to go, but my dad was not so enthusiastic. Some Catholic families thought that it was a great honour to have a priest in the family. The words “God chose you, you did not choose God,” I remember being said several times both before and during my time at Mirfield.

I do not remember much about my weekend visit. I recall being dropped off by my mum and dad and seeing the big building for the first time. It was very daunting going in the dormitory – with maybe 40 beds in it. I played football, went to the services – I don’t remember mixing with the other boys very much. However, I also don’t remember missing home – probably because I knew mum and dad were coming for me on Sunday night. I don’t think it occurred to my consciousness that this was, more than likely, going to be my home for the foreseeable future.

So in September 1969 I found myself being dropped off at Mirfield, the Verona Fathers Junior Seminary, to begin my training to be a missionary. I have this memory of everyone waving to me as they went back home.

The moment my family left me I knew I had made a terrible mistake. What was to follow was a period of extreme pain, fear, loneliness and isolation.