PADDY DEVLIN - UPSETTING PARENTS OF DEAF AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED
LETTER FROM SCHOOL PARENT DARREN CLARKE
I am writing to express my concerns about what is happening with Jordanstown school for the deaf and visually impaired. My concerns centre around the current board of governors and their behaviour towards staff, unprofessionalism, bullying behaviour, and information
I received about material published online in the past.
I will start by addressing my concerns with Father Patrick Devlin, who sits on the board of governors as a trustee of the Ulster Society for Promoting the Education of the
Deaf and the Blind. Information came to light while looking online that Father Devlin has posted “severe right wing Catholic homophobic and potentially homophobic material on his parish website. Only removed when a member of the public complained to the bishop, and filed a complaint with the diocese child protection officer, knowing he sat on the board of other schools. It seems Father Devlin also asked that “Any young males with masturbation problems should come and speak to him”. I find this alone totally
inappropriate that anyone with these views, let alone publically posting them online has no place in an integrated school, which currently is trying to figure out how to include unisex toilets for any child that is having gender issues.
It was also brought to my attention that during last week’s (9th November) remembrance service for the war dead, jokes were made about Father Devlins
driving record, namely his repeated prosecutions for speeding, including twice losing his license and the latest causing the judge to say “you have a blatant disregard for the laws of the road and this seems to be a weekly occurrence with you”. Father Devlins statement, in front of everyone was “It doesn’t matter what speed your doing, as long as you plead guilty”. What a fantastic example this is to set to children, during a service to remember the dead. As someone who was almost killed a few years back by a reckless
driver, I find comments like these completely irresponsible and inappropriate.
Speaking with members of staff, and from online posted comments relating specifically to schools hes involved in, I know he has an ignorant, arrogant and bullying demeanor
about him. He seems to have a misplaced idea that he can speak to, and treat people with no respect whatsoever. I have been told that just last week he reduced a retired staff member to tears, after she was using a room that she had booked well in advance
to hold a conference she had put months of work into, and which was being attended by people from all over the world, which would have promoted the school and the good work its staff do, simply because he felt he had a given right to the room, regardless of
His attitude and manner, and his previous published material online make me seriously question why he is sitting on the board of governors of this school. I will be taking
this matter up with the Charity commission and also the Ulster Society board themselves, as well as you guys.
On the Department of Education website, it states no form of bullying shall be tolerated in schools. I’m guessing this was more for the children that attended, however the
bullying in Jordanstown is coming solely from grown adults who have a position of “power” that they abuse each and every time they set foot into that school. The governors have obviously become nothing more than a clique now; it’s plain to see that to anyone
who looks. And it’s not for the good of the school, its dedicated staff, or the pupils. It’s a power grab and nothing more.
I had reason to make a formal complaint to the board of governors a few years ago, before they had even set up a sub committee to look at the complaint I was told by a board
of governors and trustee member that I would not get any outcome to the complaint that I would be happy with, this was before they had even looked into it.
It states on the school website that the board of governors should hold an annual meeting with parents, as yet, and as far as anyone can remember, not once have they held one.
The majority of parents don’t know what is going on in that school, and if they did, I can honestly say they would be up in arms, as are we as parents of a child that attends.
The school has the potential to be so much more if it were not for the condescending and bullying treatment at the hands of the governors.
I personally put my name forward for the board this year as I feel it needs a massive clear out to turn this trend around.
I hope this highlights the bulling and belittling attitude shown to staff by the Board of Governors. Staff who are fantastic at their jobs and who have drive and passion for
making the school be the very best it can be but are being held back by the very people who are put in place to make the school itself better.Jordanstown School has the great opportunity of being able to have Miss Sturgeon as principal which is something most if not all parents want to see happen because it is very clear for everyone to see that the school and the pupils are her life and she
gives her all to make it better but because of the ongoing problems and the level of bullying she is receiving from the Board of Governors we fear it will not happen and that would be a great loss for the school, pupils and parents.
PAT SAYS: I'm afraid that Father Paddy Devlin the PP of Ligoniel Parish in Belfast has a long history of having bad relationships in the schools that he has been associated with. His brother - Tony - the PP of St. Paul's Parish in Belfast has a similar reputation when it comes to teachers and schools. I cannot understand why Paddy Devlin is on the board of governors of a school that is not Catholic? And I would have thought that the board of governors in any school should not interfere on a daily basis in the school but should work through the principal? In this case Mr. Clarke is saying the board of governors are making Miss Sturgeon's job difficult? When Paddy Devlin was in West Belfast, and causing havoc in schools the then bishop, Paddy Walsh had to order him to stay out of the schools. There was also a problem with a school when he became PP of Ligoniel. Talking about his speeding convictions in a jocular way is not very edifying. Speed kills! I hope the parents and staff at this very special and good school can sort these things out and get the peace they need to look after their very special children.
TODAY'S FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING WAS AS MUCH A POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT AS IT WAS A RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT WHEN PIUS X1 INSTITUTED IT IN 1925.
The Pope had lost his lands in Italy called the Papal States and he was also deeply unhappy about the rise of nationalism and secularism. So having lost his political clout he decided that he would have to up his religious clout. He did this by instituting the Feast of Christ the King in 1925. And, of course, if Christ was the Universal King of everything - then as his representative on earth - the pope was the representative of the king of kings. From then onwards in the RC Church the thinking was that the spiritual kingdom - which the pope headed - was superior to all earthly and worldly kingdoms. So the Pope was the Top Man on earth - again! Of course we believing Christians have no problem with Christ being our "king". Jesus himself, in answer to Pilate, said he was a king. But of course he went on to say that his kingdom was not a kingdom of this world. He was referring to God's spiritual kingdom. One of the more interesting royals of the 20th century was Princess Diana. She was set to be the Queen of England but she was never to reach that office - partly because she was hated by other royals and partly because she herself had many flaws that included immaturity. On one famous television programme she said that she desired to be the "Queen of Hearts". And as her mysterious death proved she was indeed loved and adored by millions of hearts. In a very real sense for us Christians Christ the King wants to be the King of Hearts - our hearts. As his life proved he had (unlike the popes) no love of palaces and riches. He was born in an animal shelter and he died on the site of the Jerusalem dump. In his lifetime he changed the hearts of everyone he met. Some hearts were comforted by encountering him - people like the sick, the lepers, the blind and even the dead. Other hearts were challenged by encountering him - the Pharisees, Herod, Pilate. An encounter with him left no one unchanged. And as a spiritual king Christ was capable of a king's generousity and a king's "wrath". His generousity included his feeding of the 5,000; the healing of lepers, the blind, the crippled and on a number of occasion by raising the dead back to life. We have the stories of Lazarus, Jairus' daughter and the young man of Nain to show us this. His "wrath" became apparent when he took a whip to the money changers in the Temple; when he called Herod a fox and when he told the Pharisees that they were a Brood of Vipers. And the "wrath" of Jesus did not happen because he was having a bad day or had a hangover from new wine from the Wedding Feast of Cana. His "wrath" happened because he was justifiably angry at hypocrisy, corruption, injustice especially from those who should have known better or from whom more was expected - and from those who wanted to hurt any of his little ones. We can only imagine how "wrathful" Christ might feel about the world - and indeed the church - of today. Kings have subjects. But Christ the King has brothers, sisters and friends. In the Gospel of John (15:15) Jesus says:
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you".
The friends of Christ the King of Hearts are called today to have two sides to their lives.
We are called to incardinate within our own hearts and lives the comforting, healing Christ - by ministering to all those we meet in our daily lives who are in any kind of need.
We are also called to incardinate within our hearts and lives the "wrathful" Christ - by taking firm stands against injustice, corruption and any form of abuse in our world and in our church.
Someone once said of Christ:
"He came to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable".
His FRIENDS are recognisable by how effective they are in comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable.
May each of us here be given the grace to be such friends to the king of our hearts.
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE USA NOW ALWAYS HAPPENS SOMETIME LATER IN IRELAND.
Today we are watching the collapse of the RC church in the USA.
- cardinals, archbishops and bishops being shown up to have taken sexual advantage of seminarians and priests.
- The same cardinals, archbishops and bishops covering up for each other's sexual and corruption misdeeds.
- the laity walking away from the church because they see no hope of change coming - that necessary change being resisted by the cardinals, archbishops, bishops and clergy.
Several American priest friends of mine have told me that their church is in meltdown.
They have also said that this meltdown is happening at a shocking speed.
This is the situation in Ireland.
1. Some of the Irish bishops are sexually compromised and are not in a position to tackle the sexually active priests and seminarians as a result.
2. The Irish bishops as a body are aware of the things that are happening in Maynooth and in dioceses but they are afraid to move in case taking one brick (prick) out of the wall will cause the wall to collapse.
3. Senior members of the Irish clergy - at home and abroad - are being sexually served by young men with church connections acting as gay escorts.
4. A small number of senior members of the clergy are being blackmailed by a small number of young men with whom they had sex.
5. The public is aware of the altar sex incident in Cloyne, the Rory and McCamley situations in Armagh and the Gorgrous and Irish College cases.
6. In many dioceses there are actively gay clerical "couples".
7. There are priests openly living with their gay partners and these situations are being ignored by the bishops.
8. Recently a bishop offered one of these priests with a gay lay partner a five figure sum if he left the priesthood.
9. Priests are quite openly visiting gay saunas in Dublin, Belfast, London and abroad when they are on holidays.
10. There are hundreds of priests with profiles on Grindr.
All of this will become public in time and the Irish people will be shocked at the level of corruption in the Irish presbyterate.
The Emperor Napoleon once said to a cardinal: "I'm going to destroy the Church of Rome". The cardinal replied: "We priests have been trying to do that for hundreds of years". People's lack of education and the lack of a massive media saved the church from its priests Now people are more educated and we have a massive investigative media. This total near collapse of the Irish Church will be played out on our TV and computer screens. A small rump "church" may remain? But that is what it will be - a rump. The bishops and clergy have been behaving like a bunch of monkeys. The only problem with that is: "The higher a monkey climbs the more you see of his ass".
Szutenbach, shown here in his home in Orlando, Florida, says he was abused by a
top administrator, while a seminarian in Denver.
GRIFFIN/ Staff Photographer
— Stephen Szutenbach had never kissed anyone when, he says, a priest he had
befriended in the late 1990s started making sexual advances. Szutenbach was 18,
a devout Catholic teenager interested in the seminary; the Rev. Kent Drotar was
a 39-year-old ranking administrator at St. John Vianney Seminary.
was so sheltered and I was very uncomfortable because … he's in charge,"
Szutenbach said. "He's the person who could say, 'I don't think he's fit
to be in the seminary.' "
2007, Szutenbach reported the allegations to one of his former seminary
teachers. The Denver Diocese, led by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput before he
came to Philadelphia, sent Drotar to counseling and then reassigned him to
another parish. The priest was later removed permanently from ministry after
Szutenbach said he warned Chaput he would take his claims to the media.
didn't disclose his story at the time but reached out to the Inquirer and Daily
News this year after a wave of high-profile reports of sexual misconduct in
Catholic seminaries or against young priests in training. Cardinal
Theodore McCarrick of Washington resigned in July after allegations
that he abused minors and seminarians as the church leader in Newark and
Metuchen, N.J. Four dioceses — Philadelphia, Boston, Newark, and Lincoln,
Neb. — are investigating claims about misconduct in their seminaries.
issue is likely to emerge when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets in
Baltimore this week, amid new
questions over their handling of sex-abuse claims. Cardinal
Daniel DiNardo, conference president, has proposed establishing an independent
hotline for reporting abuse by bishops against minors as well as
"vulnerable adults," a group that includes church clergy, staff, and
a legal standpoint, people often think a 19-year-old should be able to say no
and walk away. It's not that easy," said Kathleen McChesney, former
executive director of the bishops' Office of Child Protection. "Because of
the power differential between clerics and seminarians, these people, in
essence, should be treated as vulnerable adults."
fact is, every single priest who committed abuse throughout history had to go
through seminary," Monaco said in an interview. "So the question is
how are seminaries either hiding this stuff or how are they preparing men for
was grooming me’
spotlight on seminary misconduct stirred Szutenbach to break his silence.
I'm like OK, OK. … He said juvenile, but it's mincing words,"
Szutenbach recalled. "And it's another slap in the face, like my story didn't
was a high school junior in 1998 when he met Drotar, a charismatic cleric who
had served in the Air Force before becoming a priest. Szutenbach's parents were
also Air Force veterans; the family bonded with the priest, inviting him to
family dinners and events. By Szutenbach's senior year, he said, Drotar began
attending the teen's swim meets and accompanied him on Catholic youth retreats
in the Rockies, an account confirmed by Dick Swain, the retreat leader.At that
time, Drotar was vocations director for the Denver Archdiocese, responsible for
public outreach and recruiting prospective seminarians.
then I didn't think anything of it," Szutenbach said. "Now I see that
he was grooming me."
was 18 when he took a summer job in 2000 doing yardwork at the seminary. Often,
he'd lunch with Drota.
John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, where Szutenbach said he endured
years of unwanted advances by a top administrator.
a fishing trip that summer, Szutenbach said, he woke up to the priest in his
bed, fondling him. He told Drotar he was uncomfortable with that. The priest
offered to hear his confession in the motel room that morning.
remember the drive back: I felt so bad," Szutenbach said. "I felt
gross. I felt guilty."
he wasn't about to abandon his vocation. Raised in a staunchly Catholic family,
Szutenbach grew up reciting the rosary in the car. He saw the priesthood as a
way to help people through faith. On some level, he said, he knew he was gay
and knew that wasn't accepted in the church. But he saw the seminary as a safe
place. "No one's going to ask you why you're not dating a woman if you're
in the priesthood," Szutenbach said.
his four years of study — first at the Immaculate Heart of Mary seminary in
Minnesota and then in Denver — he hid his relationship with Drotar, who by 2003
had been promoted to vice rector, the seminary's second-highest administrator.
Drotar's bedroom was just a few doors down from Szutenbach's.
would ask me to come to his apartment after evening prayer," and then
climb into his bed beside him and grope him, Szutenbach said. "I was
scared to [tell anyone] because it's my word against his."
declined to comment for this article. The Denver Archdiocese confirmed they
received Szutenbach's accusations. They acknowledged that Drotar had engaged in
"inappropriate physical conduct with an adult seminarian" but said
the allegations were "not criminal in nature."
said that he grew tired of hiding his homosexuality and that the abuse by
Drotar weakened his already wavering interest in the priesthood. So in 2004, he
dropped out of the seminary.
a letter that June, Drotar apologized to Szutenbach for the discord between
them after the seminarian said he was withdrawing. "Thank you, too, for
putting up with me and my weaknesses and struggles as I try to love you as a
father, brother and friend," the vice rector wrote. "I have been far
from perfect in it."
GRIFFIN /Staff Photographer
letter written to Stephen Szutenbach, signed by Father Kent Drotar.
to get away, Szutenbach moved to Florida and enrolled in architecture school.
For three years, he kept silent.
2007, while home for Christmas, Szutenbach visited his former Latin teacher,
Marica Frank, and their talk turned to current seminarians. Frank mentioned one
might not be ordained because the panel, which included Drotar, thought the
young man "presented as too flamboyant."
got visibly upset, then blurted out: "That's really ironic given that
Father Kent touched me sexually."
was shocked. "Stephen, you were abused," she told him.
and another faculty member, therapist Jeanie Engelbert, reported the
information to the head of the seminary, who talked to Szutenbach.
all thought it would be taken care of," Frank told the Inquirer and Daily
News in an interview. "We thought [Drotar] would be removed."
a statement last week, the archdiocese said that Chaput followed diocesan
policy when he removed Drotar after the accusations and then returned him
to ministry after consulting with a psychiatrist and the diocesan panel that
examined misconduct claims. Szutenbach, Engelbert, and Frank said they were
unaware that Drotar's conduct was ever scrutinized by the board; no one
asked them to testify or submit statements.
had worked at the seminary since 2001 as director of pastoral formation,
helping to place seminarians in the community. Outraged to learn Drotar was
returning to public ministry, she wrote to Chaput with her concerns, including
that the priest had been reassigned to a parish with a school.
the grave nature of Fr. Drotar's offense, and his apparent lack of
understanding of the seriousness of it, I believe it is unwise to place him
back into a situation where he will exercise authority over others," she
then summoned her to his office, she said.
remember he had the letter in his hand and he looked at me and he said, 'What
do you want me to do with this?' " Engelbert said. "And I said, 'The
right thing.' "
later, Chaput let her know he had consulted with the psychiatrist who
determined that Drotar was suitable for parish ministry. The decision would
stand, he said.
next day, Engelbert said, she was informed she would not be hired back for
the upcoming school year. She saw it as retaliation.
pushed back, I spoke out," Engelbert said. "… And so they just
probably wanted to get rid of any potential problems."
Haas, spokesperson for the Denver Archdiocese, said he would not comment on
specific personnel matters but said: "Neither the archdiocese nor the
seminary has terminated any employee, or caused any adverse employment
consequences for any employee, who has raised an issue of sexual
months after Englebert's inquiry, Szutenbach learned that Drotar had been
returned to public ministry. He sought a meeting with Chaput. The archbishop
agreed to meet at a coffee shop.
told him I was going to go to the press," Szutenbach said. "I
remember him being very, very demure. I think he would have done anything I'd
declined last week to discuss the Drotar case or Englebert's claims. Through a
spokesperson, he referred all questions to the Denver Archdiocese.)
said the archbishop arranged to have him testify before Denver's conduct review
did so that November and was told a few weeks later that the board recommended
Drotar's permanent removal from ministry. The process is complicated and can
take years; only the Vatican can laicize a priest. Still, Szutenbach
assumed Drotar had been defrocked, never again able to call himself a priest.
fresh dose of scandal
the clergy sex-abuse scandal flared anew this summer, this time over
seminarians, Szutenbach went online and searched Drotar's name.
is no longer in public ministry, but Szutenbach found several postings where
the now-57-year-old refers to himself as "Father" or
"Reverend." He asked the Denver Archdiocese and was told, in emails
he shared with the Inquirer and Daily News, that officials there never followed
through on their pledge to end Drotar's ties to the church.
were going to laicize him and they told me they had tried. Which they didn't,
apparently … so I'm still being lied to," Szutenbach said.
headlines this summer — including revelations that West Virginia Bishop Michael
J. Bransfield, a Philadelphia native, has
been accused of sexually harassing younger priests — have convinced
Szutenbach that his experience wasn't unique. He hopes the bishops who
meet this week take his and similar stories to heart.
said he goes to counseling and still has the occasional nightmare where he's
back in the seminary and there's a knock on his door at night.
thing is, you're in this situation where you have these young folks who have
worshiped the priesthood and bishops for their whole lives," he said.
"It's a place that's ripe for abuse, and to not acknowledge what happened
for what it was, as with McCarrick or Drotar, it's kind of an abdication of the
ickiness and awfulness of abuse. It's still abuse."
homosexuality and contact with Drotar have largely estranged him from his
parents, he said. Now 37, Szutenbach lives in Orlando with his husband
and designs hospitals for a living.
doesn't attend Mass, he said, but on occasion steps inside churches as a
photographer, still marveling at the intricate facades and stained glass.
abuse didn't destroy my faith," Szutenbach said. "The way they
treated me when I told them what happened, the way they responded, destroyed my
A previous version of this story misidentified Jeanie Engelbert's
certification. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist.
WERE TWO IRISH EX-SEMINARIANS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IN RECENT TIMES?
Was one of them admitted to hospital with a broken limb?
Is the other one currently receiving psychiatric care for PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Has an Irish bishop recently dismissed the man responsible for both assaults. Yesterday I sent Eamon Martin the following email:
I have received a report that two ex-seminarians of Xxxxxxxx were sexually assaulted by one of your "charges".
I am told that the name of the two assaulted were:
Xxxx Xxxxxx of Xxxxxx - who was allegedly treated for a limb fracture.
Xxxxx Xxxxx of Xxxxx who was and is being treated by a mental health team.
Have you been informed of these allegations?
Have the incidents been reported to the police?
This is a very serious matter and I hope you will not ignore this email.
Last evening I received an email from Eamon's safeguarding man, Aidan Gordan:
Your email of earlier today has been passed to me. I would like to advise you that if you are in possession of any information that a crime may been committed you should report the matter immediately to the PSNI or An Garda Siochana. You should also advise anyone who believes they have been the victim of a crime of their right to make a complaint to the PSNI or An Garda Siochana in order that the matter be investigated appropriately.
No one can argue with Aidans "advice".
And I will contact the Garda and report the matters.
But has Amy not got responsibility in these matters too?
He obviously does not want to dialogue with me on the matter.
But he is the primate of Ireland and the archbishop of Armagh.
Some of the characters allegedly involved answer to him.
Where is the supposed new transparency on these matters?