A touching poem from a son about his mom
I’m grateful that so many of us whose souls were violated and whose voices were silenced by clergy sex crimes and cover ups have been able to use the arts to help ourselves heal. I’m also grateful that some who have done this share their creative, cathartic work with us at SNAP.
James R. Antonik is one such kind person. He recently sent us a poem he wrote after his mother's death. He calls it “a work of fiction based on at least one truth,” events relating to St. Stephan’s parish in South Buffalo, NY around 1945.
“I would hope that your sharing of this poem enables survivors to understand the long term damage of abuse and empowers them to come forward,” James says. “Writing this poem was cathartic to a man who lost his religion when his mother related her long suppressed abuse. I could no longer support an organization that was a magnet for pedophiles.”
He reports that “done fine since leaving the Catholic Church” and that his “life and faith have gotten exponentially better” as he now reads the Bible “almost daily.”
Thank you James for your creativity, generosity and concern. Here’s his poem:
Just One Lie
My Mom as a child, told just one lie.
A fib that would haunt her, till the day she die.
2nd Grade Pauline and her friends were just having fun.
When she so innocently told a lie to the Nun.
Monsignor wouldn't have it, said "Your Daughter's a liar."
In retribution, Grandpa's belt set her britches on fire.
The lesson was learned. All the days of her youth,
Young Pauline Benes.....ALWAYS ....., told the truth.
But Pastor knew differently. This child was now branded.
The lie that she told, one day she'd be stranded.
At the age of 11, near her very first communion;
He forced upon her the most unholiest union.
Like many rape victims, her mind blocked it out.
For days, years and decades she lived with such doubt.
What could be wrong with her? She just didn't know.
Her anxiety and tension continued to grow.
She would shake and tremble. Lived with such fright.
Cry in her bed long night after night.
Through a hidden event, and it's lifelong aftermath,
Mom studied her Bible. She walked Jesus path.
Sundays, when our family went to pray.
The Catholic Church, she had to stay away.
We'd plead and cajole, She just couldn't say why.
Then she'd turn to her Bible. On it's pages she'd cry.
Half a century later, while studying the word.
She felt something inside. A cracking noise she heard.
Like a dam burst open, it all came flooding back.
The spring of her communion. That ungodly attack.
Counselors now analyzed her troubled years.
Her pent-up frustrations and wellspring of tears.
She sought out her abuser. But the diocese had his back.
It was like rape all over, one more vicious attack.
They said he was long dead. "What good would it do?"
To pray for her own sins. This matter was through.
Wouldn't give his name. Nothing on his behalf.
She returned to her Bible. Seeking scriptural salve.
The myth of forgiveness, God knows she tried.
Carried that cross...devotedly.....until she died.
Ten years later, there'd be no more harms.
She went home to Jesus, wrapped safe in God's arms.
When we laid her to rest, I had a tear in my eye.
For a sweet young child who told just one lie.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.