SNAP: Stories for Living

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(I believe the words written on the rock came to me from God or an Angel to say what the children need to know.  This rock is a dedication to those hurt by clergy employees).

     In 1994, the Barquin case allowed other former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage to tell their stories of abuse.  I was one them, as were Debbie, Donna and Dayne, siblings who discovered the large white marble rock on the beach behind the orphanage and wrote “In God We Trusted,” their names, numbers (we were given numbers), and date of residence.  Debbie asked me to write something on it also.  As I sat on down, these words flowed from me:

        In God’s world everyone has a place and is valued.  Children were not meant to be hurt whether or not they have families to love and protect them.  I wish the Sisters of Catholic Charities knew this.  Maybe some of the pain and suffering that occurred so needlessly and senselessly wouldn’t have happened.  What child could argue the value of his or her life when those who represent God hurt them so viciously, sometimes without even breaking a rule?  How can nuns and priests taunt innocent children so badly and to such an extreme that they take away children’s dignity, self-esteem and perhaps even their desire to continue to live?  To whom could these children turn to if it was God’s will they be raped, molested, beaten and humiliated?  It was not God’s will, but how could they have known if the only adults in their lives treated them as if it were true?  This is the true story of life and the lives of most of the children at St. Joseph’s Orphanage. (#14, 1970-1972  Katelin Sherrill Hoffman).

      The next summer I painted pictures of Debbie, Donna, Dayne, the orphanage, angels and flowers on the rock.  It was mentioned in the Burlington Free Press.  The following year, the Diocese requested Burlington police to keep an eye on the beach as its private property.  I was there painting a sky, both hands covered in light blue paint when the officer approached.  Holding up my hands, I answered his inquires that I knew it was the orphanage’s beach and I was repainting the rock.  He replied, “OK, finish what you are doing and then leave.”  I could not believe what I had heard, but I did as I was told.   Hours later, the rock was once again covered.  This time I finished it with an angel I had wanted there to save and protect the children.  When I realized that this never happened, I added this poem:

          As the Angels in Heaven heard decades of pain from such innocent children, one finally came. She could not save them from what had to be fate, only assure them that God doesn’t hate.  The cruelty and crimes were not meant to be, but God can’t control people’s right to be free.  Those who cause harm using God’s name are who are guilty and suffer the shame.  Those clergy employees commit the greatest sin of all when they abuse and damage the weak and the small.

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