Story #2 – Finally, After Forty Years
In 2003, I moved back to NJ and got the chance to report my abuse to the Diocese of Paterson and go before the Review Board to tell my story. This was forty years after my abuse. I went through the church's investigation process and finally, after doing battle with the church's corruption, I was victorious. I was able to get the priest, then retired, the shame and punishment he long deserved. His public ministry was taken away. I made sure that many stories came out in newspapers in NJ so that other survivors could identify him and so that the church would have to be more accountable to the public.
What inspired me this last year was the last SNAP meeting in December that I went to in northern NJ, in Mendham, because I had not been to one for one year since I moved to central Jersey. What was neat about this meeting was the fact that few people showed up, and the ones that did knew me from having heard my story in 2003.
At this last meeting, I shared more about myself and how the effects of my abuse created voids in my life. I had not been able to share these things, those events that occurred a few years after my abuse when my confusion was very high and boundaries low. I was unable to stop much older men from "feeling me up" because the priest who abused me was old enough to be my father. I had no ability to say "no". As people listened, I was glad to feel this SNAP kinship that can't be had anywhere else. I didn't have to explain or feel ashamed. I knew I had made progress since I got the priest his punishment, but
I shared with the group that I still felt the effects of my abuse. I know this SNAP meeting was a gift because other meetings I had been to were more structured and larger. This time I had the group size I could feel confident about. I am inspired by how SNAP has been more and more successful in 2009 hunting down priests and bishops who continue to hide and avoid responsibility.
Before my father passed in April 2009, he saw the newspaper articles about my church investigation, gave me sympathy and was outraged. He remembered, in 1955, when the priest had a girl on his lap at a church function bouncing her up and down. My father was uncomfortable with this, but like so many brainwashed Catholics, he couldn't begin to think badly about priests. He passed on knowing my victory and courage with getting the priest punishment. I love my father greatly, and he is with me daily, this I am sure of. Blessings can take years.
No amount of money could give me the satisfaction that I got getting the priest punishment. I say this because I never got a settlement from the church. I am so grateful that my dad was sympathetic and supportive. Lastly, I am so grateful to Msgr. X who was my "canon lawyer" throughout the investigation. His support, given so generously to me, took a toll on him. He is a diligent and conscientious man.