SNAP: Stories for Living

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Story #15 – And a Child Was Born

My Name Is Nathan
12/19/1986 – 11/27/2009
This was written in honor of the courage of my son who wanted to make a difference

The healing was seen through the eyes of my son who for 22 years remained silent of who his biological father was. The silence was only on the outside; the noise inside became deafening to his heart. In an attempt to cause dishonor to me, all legal correspondence was sent to me in my son’s name who was dying of cancer caused by brain tumors: he was diagnosed at the tender age of 19 which was only three years ago. The last letter fell into the hands of a very ill young man who saw his name on the envelope and opened it not knowing anything about the legal issues it carried. I found him in confusion as he was reading the pages from the Franciscans’ attorney, then he looked at me in total disbelief. My son was so hurt by how they referred to him, but, also in a sense, reborn into a new person because of it. His eyes connected with mine and his words pierced my heart: “Mom they keep calling me a legal obligation, my name is Nathan.”

It was at that moment that I knew I had to ask a question I wondered for 22 years; do you have something to say. His response; “yes mom I do.” Did his healing begin with these words, I believe so. He had no agenda, no reason for rewards or payoffs to remain silent -- he had to speak to the children out there like him. It was through the courage of my son that I learned that I had a duty and an honor to also speak out on behalf of the women who had been hurt and victimized by the men of the cloth. The day we decided to speak was the day our candle was lit with hope. Our greatest hope was that Nathan would live long enough to say what he needed to and that the world would embrace his honest effort to make a difference. He wanted the church to wake up and hear the voices of its children.

His words were heard October 16th in an outstanding and caring front page article written by Laurie Goodstein, an award-winning journalist for her outstanding religion-based news reporting for the New York Times and then CNN Anderson Cooper 360 correspondent Gary Tuchman who is an important part of an award winning news reporting team. They have allowed Nathans words to come to life and let the world know that every child deserves the love and respect of the ones who bring them to life. Nathan Halbach, who decided to speak out as he was terminally ill with brain cancer about how it felt to grow up knowing that his absentee father was a Roman Catholic priest, died at home in Missouri. He was 22. This was the final report as Nathan slipped away from our arms November 27th of this year.

In an interview this summer at his home in O’Fallon, he said of his father: “He and my mom had a relationship and they were in love at the time, and they had me out of that relationship, but I never received any of that love at an age I could remember it. I have so few memories of him, I’ve met him so few times, and it’s just not been what I had hoped for.”

Nathan said he knew there were other children like him who had been fathered and abandoned by priests, but it was such a taboo to talk about it that he wanted to give them a voice. My lovely son: through the grace of many, including our dear supportive friends in SNAP and the media representatives that we now call friends, your mission is complete. Rest now son and relish in the words of St. Francis who I am certain said to you, “Welcome home son”.

Note: this story is from 2009. View other 2009 stories and 2009 voting results. View current stories.