SNAP: Stories for Living

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I grew up during the 60’s in a Catholic orphanage in Kentucky. As a baby, my admission to the orphanage was secured by the State. And after many years of neglect delivered upon my three older siblings and me, by our young, drug-addicted mother, the State of Kentucky narrowed her eyes, raised her brow, and abandoned us to the uncharitable care of the Sisters of Charity.

Placed deep into the back roads of Kentucky, miles from any main thoroughfare, lay the ugly secrets and chilling horrors of that orphanage. Protected by the umbrella of the Roman Catholic Church, the orphanage was run by an order of nuns and one priest.

Hidden from polite society, and prying eyes, decades of brutal abuses prevailed.      

During the 50’s and 1960’s orphanage abuses were all too common. In those years, thousands of people grew up in Catholic orphanages in this country. No one knows how many didn’t make it. My own sister did not. And because speaking makes it real--it took over thirty years for me to grow to the point where I could speak my story.

One man, an attorney named William McMurry came forward in 2004 and generously gave his time, talent and compassion to expose past abuses of orphaned children, by the Catholic clergy -- sexual and physical abuses of innocents placed in their care. William revealed past lies, brought them to surface, and showed many how the buried past can return to heal the present, both triumphant and frightening. And through his voice, mine as well as many, found their own. With his support and encouragement, I’ve written a book and hope to one day have it published. A big step for me, as one of the battle scars from the abuses was silence.

The small steps we take toward healing may well become the nurturing paths for others. It’s not important that we all follow the same path to heal, what is important, is we have reached this together and through other’s kindness.

Note: this story is from 2007. View other 2007 stories and 2007 voting results. View current stories.