2007 STORY #26: RECOVERY
Monsignior X was larger than life; he owned an elephant, ate orange peels, and drove a cool, fast car. So, when he asked me if I wanted to “see two people doing something weird in the woods” at the parish picnic at Stellite Park, I was intrigued. I followed him along a path, and just near where the trail went along the creek, he stopped, then put his hand in my underwear. I froze, then ran as deep into the woods as I could. Later that day, someone took a picture of me in the water balloon toss; I was certain that this photograph was taken because I was bad. I have that photograph; it is dated July 1971, so I was seven years old.
Monsignior tried other times to fondle me; after Sunday Mass, he always came down to coffee and doughnuts, and he always had his hands around two girls’ waists. Unknown to the parents, he had his hands inside the girls’ waistband, with his thumb outside. I started liking dresses and jumpers. I never told my father, and I only told my mother when the Indianapolis Star ran their “Faith Betrayed” series in 1997.
When the abuse scandals gained national attention in 2002, I was married to a wonderful man and had several children, but living away from my family. I thank God that Fr. John Riley was my pastor then; he spoke out strongly against priests who were child molesters and the bishops who shuffled them around: both publicly and privately, both before and after I confided in him. Only then did it truly sink in, that Monsignior had committed great sins against me, and that I hadn’t been “the bad one”. Forgiveness wasn’t really possible until then, until I acknowledged my own childhood innocence. I don’t know if I can ever fully forgive Monsignior, but I do pray he isn’t in hell.
If it hadn’t been for Fr. Riley, I know I would have left the Church in 2005, when Bernard Law celebrated the memorial Mass for John Paul II. It was a slap in the face; the Church’s apologies were false. They didn’t really mean it. I would have left the Church, but the Gospels that week were John 6, the Bread of Life discourse, my favorite. At the end of that week, the Gospel was after the great crowd left, disgusted that Christ had asked them to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. Christ asked Peter if he would leave too. Peter noted that there’s no where else to go. I’m far from healed, but I know that when Christ feeds me from His Body and Blood, He does so with infinitely more love than when I feed my unborn and newborn children from my body and blood.
That fall, Group X became active in my parish. I can’t yet thank God for my childhood abuse, but I know well that otherwise, I would not have been heavily involved in fighting this dangerous, molester-worshipping group. No matter how much false innuendo is spread about me, no matter how long this lawsuit against ReGAIN drags along, I know that I guard children from danger, and I am content.