My parents loved me and had protected me from physical and spiritual harm. Had they known that these religious men of the cloth at the seminary were in reality predators upon boys, they would never have entrusted me into their care. But they were devout Catholic parents and proud that their little boy might one day become a priest. How could they or other parents know that we were as sheep to the slaughter?
The predacious intentions of the religious priests and brothers of the seminary were not only unknown to us as teens but the very idea that a man could do unspeakable sexual things to a boy was unimaginable. Most of us had not had sex education in school and television viewing was controlled carefully at home. These were the days in which the sexual revolution had already begun but it was not fully implemented.
The tactics of the now infamous Uncle Ted (hat tip to former Cardinal McCarrick) were among those employed by these clerics as well, but our abusers preferred to be called “Brother” and “Father” rather than “Uncle” and they, in turn, referred to their favored victims as “Suckees” rather than “Nephews.” They were in competition for victims from within the seminary student body and I still wonder if the knots on their cinctures were not for counting prayers but for counting their victims, as notches on a belt.
Perhaps most feared among the predators were the prefects, who were the enforcers of discipline. How ironic and convenient that those in charge of student discipline and behavior were themselves debauched. The head prefect in particular, who had responsibility for the youngest of the seminarians, was a pervert. In our innocence we wondered why he came unannounced so often into the common shower area and bathroom stalls. It was always under the pretext of hurrying us along in our hygiene. He also roamed the large open bay dorm room by night, lingering on occasion to watch over a teen or two while they slept.
Though charged with our moral welfare, this prefect was a corrupter of morals. When he came upon a boy who was particularly good in his conduct, he targeted him for corruption. As an example, though many of the seminary staff smoked in those days, such was forbidden for young seminarians. Yet this head prefect invited otherwise good seminarians into his private office--which also served as his bedroom--and offered these seminarians cigarettes to smoke while in his presence. Afterward he would have one of his own Suckees spying on these seminarians, hoping to catch them smoking a cigarette elsewhere on the campus.
What was the punishment for smoking? The same as for almost any other infraction of the rules: a crew. Crew referred to three hours of manual labor performed by seminarians on Saturday afternoons. It was typically something that was of use to the seminary, such as yardwork. But for seminarians who attended school Saturday mornings, it meant that your weekend recreation was pretty much a bust. By the way, decades later, when this seminary was closed down due to impending lawsuits for child sexual abuse, it was leased out as a detention center for juvenile sex offenders. How ironic. Not only that, the punishment employed upon these juvenile sex offenders was not a work crew, but a time-out chair. How pathetic.
The predatory tactics of other priests and brothers varied according to their particular assignments within the seminary system. One such man of the cloth who was much more likeable than the prefects but also more successful in accumulating young victims was the head of the seminary canteen store, wherein were sold various candies and school supplies. In those days we kids rarely had more than a dollar to our names and what little we had was kept in an account, controlled by—you guessed it--the head prefect! It was a sort of stick and carrot approach to child grooming and for a few unfortunate victims, sadly, it worked. Over the years the number of boys abused in the candy store grew so large that it was finally shut down.
One of the worst predators was a priest who immersed himself in—surprise—boys’ camps and coaching. Decades later, following the implementation of the Dallas Charter to protect minors, this priest admitted in an affidavit that he had abused scores of boys for many years in varied settings. He also claimed, under oath, that had anyone told him it was wrong to touch a boy’s private parts, he would never have done it.
Still another grooming tactic of the predators was to favor their intended victims with gifts and privileges. One of the brothers had a puppy and he cultivated his Suckees by giving them the exclusive right to walk and feed and bath his puppy. Other brothers worked in particular areas of the seminary and monastery and they allowed their Suckees to earn extra money as student workers. It also gave them access to the boys.
Beyond the more subtle seduction tactics used by these predators, some of them were outright rapists, especially for older teens and hard cases. A classmate and close friend was the victim of such a rape. The brother used a classic Uncle Ted move, inviting my friend to a remote cabin on a lake, with only one bed. My friend demurred on the offer to share a bed with a predator and slept instead on the floor. Despite his best efforts, unfortunately, the predator had slipped him a mickey that knocked him out. When he awoke, he knew from the terrible pain he suffered that he had been sodomized in the night while unconscious.
So what happened to those 40 young seminarians—and so many others—who wanted to become priests?
Of this particular class of 40, only two were ever ordained and only one remains active in ministry. As to others among the many seminary classes which were targeted and subject to sexual abuse, most gave up interest in the priesthood and many abandoned Catholicism itself; some turned to drugs and alcohol and criminal behavior; some ended up in broken marriages. And a very small number continued on with the religious order that had preyed upon them and became predators themselves, homo vampires in a coven.
Meanwhile in Rome...
Way to go, Shepherd.
Still, there are many others who went on to live well-adjusted lives as faithful Catholics. Our experiences can both inform us and affect us but by the grace of God they cannot condemn us to bring evil out of evil.
Much more could be written and sordid examples provided of the sexual abuse of teen seminarians but let this suffice. If this first-hand account of sexual abuse of teen seminarians that spanned decades does not convince you that the predation of Uncle Ted McCarrick upon seminarians and young priests is not rare, then what will? Let this account be a warning to Catholic parents in particular, that sometimes wolves are disguised as shepherds. Yes, there are good and holy priests that imitate the Good Shepherd, but not all.
So now we add our voice to that of the Former Nuncio and others who call for the resignation of prelates, including the Prelate of Rome, who have protected predators rather than the sheep. Shame on homosexual hirelings, standing in silence at the slaughter! Begone you wicked wolves, who prey upon the little lambs!
A Faithful Priest and Seminary Survivor