Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It took over 55 years, but I now have the courage to expose this sad history. What I want is an apology from all parties.

How to Make a Complaint of Sexual Abuse or Other Misconduct

Taking the step to report a complaint of sexual abuse or other misconduct by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer of the Archdiocese is not easy.  For many people, the strength and courage to make such a report often comes after many years of inner anguish and turmoil.  Survivors who have made such reports over the years have sensitized us to the needs of survivors and families especially with regard to making an initial report. 

Editor: jjb -Not the best first impression! Dropped calls, disconnected etc. Making us repeat the abuse verbally!

Please note that you may report suspected child abuse to ChildLine, the 24-hour statewide system operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to receive such reports (1-800-932-0313) (toll free).  In addition, you are encouraged to report any conduct which could constitute a crime to your local police department.  

You may also report sexual abuse or other misconduct by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer of the Archdiocese to the Archdiocese Office of Investigations (888-930-9010) (toll free).  If you decide to contact the Office of Investigations, be assured that you will be treated with respect and kindness.  You will be asked to provide your name, date of birth, current address and phone number, name of the accused, dates and location of the abuse or misconduct, and a brief description of the facts.  

Please be advised that the Archdiocese is required by law to report suspected child abuse to the Department of Public Welfare’s ChildLine.  In addition, it is Archdiocesan policy to immediately refer any conduct which could constitute a crime to law enforcement.  

After your report is taken, your information will be forwarded to the Archdiocesan Office for Child and Youth Protection’s Victim Assistance Program.  A Victim Assistance Coordinator will follow up with you to discuss what support and services are available to you.  If you would like to speak with a Victim Assistance Coordinator immediately after making your complaint, we will be able to connect you. I called on Monday morning, and received a voice mail message.

The Sisters of St. Joseph, SSJ 
St. John's Orphan Asylum for Boys
49th Street & Wyalusing Ave. 
West Philadelphia, Penna

The Holy Ghost Fathers, CSSp, 
now called Spiritians  

St. Joseph's House for Homeless & Industrial Boys
16th Street & Allegheny Ave.
North Philadelphia, Penna.

My name is John J Bangert. I now live on Cape Cod,  Massachusetts. I was raised in the early 1950's at the archdiocese institutions where I was severely abused and harmed.I am in touch with over 150 survivors in my data base and we would like the opportunity to address Archdiocese Lay Review Committee.

We are in our 50's/60's, a half century removed from those sad days of daily child abuse. Now that our children are raised and we have time to reflect on our past child abuse, we are looking for acknowledgement and perhaps  apologies form the Sisters of St Joseph (SSJ's,) and the Holy Ghost Fathers (CSSp), now called Spiritians, as well as the present Cardinal of the archdioceses as well.

Our abuse is not just sexual, but emotional, psychological, educational, physical, at the hands of nuns, prefects, lay teachers and priests- intrusted by both the courts and the Archdiocese care givers and to be our legal guardians, some were kind, many were not, we just want an ear to our painful stories and for some of our life long silent, questions of WHY and HOW to be answered.

In September 1953, Sr. Alice Patricia, SSJ, beat me with a yard stick in the my 1st Grade class room, for not knowing how to tie my shoes. She also forced me, actually pushed tomatoes down my throat in the little boys dining room, because the kitchen nun, Sr. St. Carthage, SSJ, insisted  on me to finish cleaning  my plate. I hate tomatoes and kept pushing them around with my folk. Sr. Alice Patricia became enraged because I was conflicted not to be lined up when she our teacher did not following her orders  upon the non-verbal clicking of wooden clickers, while also being under the watchful eye of Sr. St. Carthage's  patrol. Sr. Alice grabbed me violently and pushed the tomatoes down my throat and when I gagged she held me, until I vomited my food, and she then made me clean up the floor and forced me to eat was just cleaned off the floor, regurgitated tomatoes. I can still smell her Jean Nate fragrance to this day and it reminds me of the horror during my youthful reign of terror.
In 1957, my 5th grade teacher Sr. Helen Constance, SSJ,  beat me in the class room, and in the dormitory.  The dormitory nuns from Section L, 1st grade, St. Finebarr, and Section K, and St. Mary of Consolation, SSJ  both beat me with sticks, belts, cat nine tails  and shillalahs.  All for wetting my bed or not strengthening my bedspread or blanket out, or being late for lineup.

In September 1960 at age 11,  I was  raped by an older boy CJ  at St. Joseph's House, when our dormitories were not properly supervised. I was savagely  beaten and  daily battered and  eventually sexually assaulted for two years by my lay teacher Mr. Charles Warkola,  in the 7th grade.  

When I spoke up and ran into the Dean of Students, Mr. John Doney,  I was not believed and was "left back" with  failed grades, 69 was failing, 70 was promotion!  I was offered a chance to seek tutoring with Mr. Warkola in his room, during summer school. 

I decided that perhaps the home or archdiocesan schools would promote me because knew of my reported abuse as did my parents when my mother noticed several black and blue bruising around my ears, and after my eye glasses were smashed after one brutal encounter in study hall.     

In September, 1961,  I was "left back" after I flunked the 7th grade and went on to be abused for another whole school year with this monster.  My other classmates, including my identical twin brother were promoted to the 8th Grade, but I was the only child left behind.

Mr. Walkola  wound hit me upon the head with his college ring, and slap me across the face for not knowing my place during oral recitation. Mr.Warkola would also make us strip down our  pants and underwear past my knees  "Assume the Position",  he would command with his strong loud voice,  as was his fear-filled mantra,  I stood stand in front of the class and he whip us with squechee  taken from his desk drawer. 

He would whip us so hard,  we would have red welts or blisters that filled with water and looked like fried eggs. We were not able to sit down and he would force us to take our punishment like a man if we tried to seat side ways to avoid the pain or give us more corporate punishment. Mr. Charles Warkola would also exam the inside of our pants pockets looking for contraband like cigarettes, candy or chewing gum.  

Can you guess what I did to sooth myself ?  I would open the Baltimore Catechism book and prayed the ejaculations to the God, The Saints and the Blessed Mother to forgive me and my abusers,  as Jesus did in the Bible stories which I daily hear in sermons from daily Mass.  Offering up to the sacred heart of Jesus, and the Sacred Heart of Mary when I would tell the priest in my weekly confessions because some how it must have been my fought. 
No action was ever taken by the home, or social services. I am was not alone in this situation. As one of my homeys, also abused by the then director of Vocations for the Holy Ghost Fathers, stated 

..."my tour of Vietnam was cake walk, when compared to the child abuse and subsequent PTSD from the days of both St. John's Orphanage and St. Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys".  He will soon also be disclosing and presenting himself soon a well.

Recently our growing Homey group on Facebook decided to organize an individual response to the film Oranges and Sunshine  (available from Netflix,)  which has ripped opened the deep wounds hidden  and not yet heard nor healed in most of us. We were placed in these Catholic Institutions by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania  for our own moral development and put into the hands of God's caretakers. 

I made a very difficult decision waiting for well over 50 years to come forward with every fiber in my body warning me to stay away from the "monsters in my head."  Please see reverenced film Oranges and Sunshine


The Times on Oranges and Sunshine by Jim Loach

Margaret Humphreys, the real woman behind Oranges and Sunshine

By Carol Midgley
A new film sheds light on a brutal child migrant scheme

On the walls of Margaret Humphreys’ office above a sandwich shop in Nottingham are hundreds of family photographs, the typical fare of happy smiles and embraces found on mantelpieces everywhere. The truth behind these snapshots, though, is far from happy. It is a wretched story that shames our country.

Many of the people pictured here were robbed of any chance of family life when they were children thanks to a government policy to ship thousands of minors in care to Australia for a “better life”. Without the consent or knowledge of their birth parents, children as young as 4 were often simply poured into boats and unloaded into religious institutions and children’s homes at the other end, then forced to work in punishing conditions.

Children have been exported from Britain since the 1600s. From the start of the last century thousands were sent to Canada and Rhodesia. The mass exportation to Australia took place mainly after the Second World War, with between 7,000 and 10,000 children sent. Incredibly, the practice didn’t officially end until 1970.

They were “white stock” sent to boost Australia’s postwar population, told falsely that their parents were dead and that they were lucky to get this chance. Hundreds grew up not even knowing their correct date of birth. Their sense of identity was often eroded by years of neglect and terrible abuse. Thanks to magnificent work by Humphreys, and her organisation the Child Migrant Trust, over the past 23 years some have finally been reunited with family members in Britain, discovering lost mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins — hence the poignant images on Humphreys’ walls. For others, however, it was all too late and by the time they traced their parents, they were dead. All they have left is a gravestone.

Now, a year after Gordon Brown formally apologised to the child migrants, their story is being told in film. Oranges and Sunshine, directed by Jim Loach (son of Ken), is a beautiful dramatisation of a monstrous truth. It is breathtakingly moving film (have tissues to hand) tracing the consequences of a social policy that was ill-thought out and often seemed to amount to little more than free child labour. Via the story of Margaret, a Nottingham social worker who exposed the full horror of the scheme in the 1980s after a woman in Adelaide made contact to try and trace her family, we meet some of the victims still living with the shame and emptiness of being a “non-person”. All are based on true stories.

Humphreys is played by Emily Watson who captures her mixture of determination, compassion and vulnerability. Humphreys isn’t comfortable talking about herself, batting away compliments about her achievements, for which this month she was appointed CBE. Neither was she directly involved in the making of the film, based on her book Empty Cradles. But she has seen it, just once, with her family and says it is “faithful” to the truth. “Let’s hope the film helps us to look [what happened] in the face,” she says. “We need people to understand the consequences of child migration because they are huge. There were times when I despaired that this terrible injustice would ever be acknowledged. That’s one of the factors that led me to agree to the film.”

Humphreys, 66, has heard countless appalling testimonies, such as the five-year-old boy tied to a tree and repeatedly raped by a Christian Brother; the little girl with golden curls held down by nuns and shorn until her scalp bled because she tried to run away; lonely, weeping children beaten and humiliated for wetting the bed, a choirboy sent to a dentist’s house to sing at a Christmas party and raped by several men. She was physically threatened herself in Australia by people desperate to protect some of the religious institutions involved (the Christian Brothers have since apologised). Eventually the stress made her ill and doctors found she was suffering from trauma.

Her own family made huge sacrifices as she worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, often on the other side of the world. Her amazingly supportive husband Merv, also a social worker, and played in the film by Richard Dillane, held the fort at home. For seven years there was no family holiday and Margaret took no leave.

She, though, could go home — unlike the migrants. “Many obsessed over England, the greenery, the terraced houses and the wet weather that they could still remember,” she says. “Their children too have been deprived of grandparents; the losses continue down the generations.

“Identity is critical,” she says. “It’s all about connection, who we belong to, where we fit in in the world. These are fundamental questions for children.” Some of the migrants describe a deep longing to be touched — hugged maternally — as children. One, George, taken from a children’s home in Liverpool and sent to New South Wales, told Humphreys that as a boy he would sit in a gum tree every day praying that a car would knock him over. Not to kill him, just to break his legs and get him sent to hospital “because then somebody will pick me up ... then somebody will hold me”.

Humphreys says one of her migrant friends Harold Haig, who was sent to Australia at age 10, articulates it best. “He says you walk round with this lump of ice inside you that never melts, you feel cold inside.” Sandra Bennett, taken from Birmingham to Queensland, describes it thus: “Not having a family makes you feel as if you don’t belong to the human race.” This lack of sense of self, coupled with traumatic childhood, meant many found it hard to sustain adult relationships. Alcoholism is also common in child migrant communities.

I had assumed that the shipping of the children abroad was largely a class issue: the children were poor and their parents voiceless. But this was not always the case, says Humphreys. Many people found themselves in difficult circumstances after the Second World War and put their children into care, meaning to pick them up later. When they returned to the homes they were told their children had been “adopted”. This wasn’t true. Adoption was never part of Child Migrant Scheme plan. As the film shows, when Margaret traced the now elderly mothers, they were devastated to learn their children had never had loving homes. “People of all classes found themselves in situations — single parents where there was a stigma, parents separating.”

Children’s homes sometimes emptied overnight. “One man wrote to me saying he had got up one morning, gone to the breakfast table and there was no one there. He hadn’t gone because he had chicken pox.”

Tragically, the trauma of having to give up a child caused many mothers to decide they couldn’t go through it again. “To a lot of these women it was a grief without end,” Humphreys says.

“The film is about society; it challenges all of us,” she says. “It is about loss, separation, reconciliation, restitution and learning. That last word is crucial. What we learn from this will inform actions in the future. It is not something that happened over on the other side of the world, it is part of our history too.”

How did it feel to see Gordon Brown say sorry? “I saw the apology as a measure of where we are at as a society and for that alone — well, it was a pretty good moment,” she says. “The apology removed shame. It said [to the migrants], ‘It isn’t your shame, it is ours.’ ”

"Don't bother with that hidden pain!"

My therapist,  Vincent Guardia suggested that I start with this first step in the completion of my childhood trauma; and for my PTSD healing to have an ear across the years. and not even an auto responder from the very professionals, set up by the Philadelphia Archdioceses to at least do an intake or hear our pained dark stories from faraway and long ago. 
I called the office of Investigations 888-930-9010 and was greeted by voice mail message!  So I went on the the website with the ominous logo of the archdioceses cathedral and then Google some names from the Members of the Archdiocesan Review Board. I then emailed you Anne.

  •  Anne Shenberger, MSS, LSW 
(610) 565-2208, 215-880-0562  

Stephanie A. Hoerst
Intake Coordinator
Phone: 215-320-8004

I did get a connection to this kind person, who even offered me an apology. Thank you Al! Al suggested that I call the Victims 888-800-8780 and all 3 times I was disconnected this afternoon.
Albert J. Toczydlowski, Esq
Director of Investigations
Phone: 215-320-8003
Update: 8/25 - I received a call from Ida Petkus from the Survivor Hotline, which pleased me, we chatted for 1hour and 36 minutes, first returned call initiated of the Archdioceses of Philadelphia. Ida gave me a new web addy that can be reached directly with out mining the archdiocesan website. ms. Petkus also suggested to me to go to NOVABUCKS!

In Crisis? Get help 24 hours a day.

Linea directa de 24 horas, apoyo en crisis, se da informacion y se remite.

Call 1-800-675-6900

All services are free and confidential
to victims, family and friends

Thanks to Margaret Humphreys and Mervyn Humphreys and to the Child Migrant Trust

Click to watch trailer:

Recently after reading Sunshine and Oranges, written by Margaret Humphreys this true story rang a bell with me. Mrs. Humphreys work with our international brothers and sisters in the Hand of God's caregivers so faraway and long ago, was in fact our story retold with a Global Scale perspective.  

This film on Netflix in the US, and it's available for live streaming,  on the link above;  has  recently poked the monsters in my own head as a survivor of a very abused childhood. 

We were in the care of the Archdioceses of Philadelphia Catholic Social Services from the early 1953 - 1966,  when my twin brother and I were removed from our poor home, after our father was sent to prison, and older sisters were sent to the The Catholic Home for Destitute Girls and we were sent to St. John's Orphan Asylum  for Boys, and later moved in the system to St. Joseph's House for Homeless and Industrious Boys. We were identified by our assigned laundry numbers-my laundry number was # 135, and Joe's was # 116.   If we were ever addressed it was always by our last name only. -Bangert, go get the Bangerts twins, never Johnny or Joe. One name I remembered was sister saying "Hey You, you character of the worse description".
 The nuns would ring hand bells to call us in like sheep.

My website/blog 

In the 15 years since starting this blog, I have received over 150 responses or inquiries about a homey or their daughters or sons, and leave inquires or will comment if the survivor, did not survive.  Over 50 of our classmate were rewarded  for the military like training and died as expendable cannon fodder in Vietnam.

As one of our committee members, John Beitzel,  is often remarking " the the war in Vietnam was a cake walk compared to the daily physical abuse" The Sisters of Saint Joseph used corporate punishment just for not knowing our catechism questions, then beaten with belts, sticks and or bear hands to teach us the moral lessens which had failed from our our no good rotten  parents.

Q: "Why did God make us?"

A: "God made us to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him is this world and to be with Him the next!"

 So many times did we wish we were in the next world with or without Him, or them!

 Margaret Humphreys
 Mervyn Humphreys

We would like to know if Margaret & Mervyn  Humphreys ever cross the pond, and if they do we would like to invite them to join our many survivors for a private screening or the honor of their presence  at our next reunion in Philadelphia. 

Thank you Margaret and Mervyn for opening the closeted doors of our dormitory's across the globe! 

John & Joe Bangert  circa 1953


John J. Bangert

Survivor to Thiver 1953-1966

**Special Thanks for Lindsey Hughes for calling us back from Nottingham, England Land of Robinhood
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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

We must never forget terror of industrial schools

The church and State damaged young girls. This crime is the focus of a revised book

A file photograph of shoes attached to the railings of the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin in March 2010 as part of a protest over industrial schools. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill A file photograph of shoes attached to the railings of the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin in March 2010 as part of a protest over industrial schools. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Tue, Aug 6, 2013, 10:24
Looking back, it was one incident that summed up the whole story.
In 1976, Mavis Arnold and I were interviewing a jittery Department of Education civil servant responsible for what had been industrial schools.
Our focus was on the institution run by the Sisters of the Poor Clares in Cavan.
We asked to see examples of the institution’s “dietary” plan and of a notification of punishment, both required by the 1908 Children Act.
Not available, he replied.
What about children sent out to work from the age of 10 in the early 1960s?
“You can’t see individual confidential reports.”
Could we see the accounts?
They didn’t exist.
By what process, we asked, had some Cavan girls been sent to the laundry-reformatory in Gloucester Street, Dublin?
His agitation increased: “We’d better not delve into that terrain.”
The point was that that institution, run by other nuns, was not certificated, thus the girls’ incarceration there was contrary to the rules of the Act governing the schools.
Nor was so much else we’d heard from women who’d been through the system as children.
By that time, we knew what we were after.
For me, it had started with my psychiatrist husband pressuring me to investigate: a young woman patient had become hysterical when a nun entered her ward.
Later she persistently described witnessing a savage bloody beating of another little girl at her Cavan “orphanage” – a girl who subsequently disappeared.

By chance, my friend Mavis, also a journalist, had a young woman from the same place living with her, waiting for the birth of a baby.
At 16, like all the girls, she’d been sent away to work as a domestic, utterly ignorant of the world, and vulnerable to male predation.

Horrifying cruelty
She told Mavis about horrifying cruelty and deprivation at this institution – by then closed. It was often described as “one of the good schools”.

There were no books on the subject and no journalists had yet exposed what went on behind the high walls of the industrial schools.

Gradually we discovered the context – that Ireland had been infested with these places, all run by religious orders.
We learnt that some still existed, and that they operated with State funding through the Department of Education under the 1908 Act’s regulations. These were designed to protect, feed, clothe and educate children in State care.
From interviews with ex-pupils from Cavan and other girls’ industrial schools, back to the 1920s, we saw that the orders had made a mockery of the law.

Whatever was known or suspected, there had been no open challenge to the church’s all-embracing power from the bureaucracy or Irish society and its political representatives. Nor from the press.

In 1943, 35 children died in a fire in the Cavan institution; transcripts of evidence from the tribunal of inquiry into the tragedy show that it was a whitewash to exonerate the nuns and government: authority closing ranks.

The absence of accountability and casual law-breaking in the whole system dumbfounded us. We even got documentary evidence of the late Brian Lenihan as minister of education concurring with a reverend mother’s demand that a girl be imprisoned – illegally – in a reformatory.
Many people tried to dissuade us from writing a book.
“It’ll upset the good sisters. What’s the point? Everything’s different now.” 

The original version of Children of the Poor Clares was eventually published in 1985, to mostly disapproving reviews.

However it was legitimized by the stomach-churning flood of evidence emerging in the following decades, culminating in the Ryan report.

Goldmine for lawyers
The Residential Institutions Redress Board process was badly flawed – it was a goldmine for lawyers while damaged survivors were aggressively subjected to humiliating interrogation and intimidation. 

And the State, in effect, protected the assets of the orders.
There was even an echo of the 1943 Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse when the congregation leader of the Poor Clares Sisters was treated with kid-gloved deference.
We have retold the story up to the present, in the revised version of our book.

Children of the Poor Clares: The Collusion between State and Church that Betrayed Thousands of Children in Ireland’s Industrial Schools by Mavis Arnold and Heather Laskey is available as an ebook