Monday, 24 March 2014



In an address to the staff and students of ST. MALACHY'S COLLEGE, BELFAST, the former Bishop of Down and Connor and former college president, BISHOP PATRICK WALSH addressed the following words:

You will find these words on a You Tube video about Saint Malachy's called: GLORY FROM WITHIN.

Up until 2012 one wing of the college was simply called THE WING and it was in that part of the college that the seminarians (future priests) of Down and Connor seminary were trained for the priesthood. 

The former seminary spiritual director and later president of the college was the new Bishop of Derry - Bishop Donal McKeown. Since leaving as president he has been the chairman of the board of governors of the college.

So for many many years, in various roles Donal McKeown has been intimately involved in the day to day running f the college and the seminary.

But for many years now ALL HAS NOT BEEN well in THE WING.

It seems that THE WING has been a centre for SEXUAL ABUSE and BULLYING.

The rector of The Wing - appointed to the post by Bishop Walsh was Father John McManus. He was later appointed the Chancell
or of the whole diocese by the new Bishop - Noel Treanor.


Father McManus played a key role in the investigation into the abuse of a seminarian in The Wing by Father James Donaghy - the parish priest of Bangor. Father Donaghy, during Father McManus' tenure had full access to a seminarian's room where he used to sexually abuse the seminarian for hours behind locked doors. Totally against the seminary rules he also took the seminarian out for meals and for day trips and weekend trips to London and New York and plied the seminarian with expensive gifts of computers, designer clothing, alcohol and underwear.

Father Donaghy used to openly show the other seminarians the underwear he had bought for his special seminarian. 

All the time Father McManus presided over all this, watched it happen and did nothing to stop it.

When the seminarian's family and I had a meeting with Bishop Walsh about the abuse what did Bishop Walsh do? He sent Father McManus to interview the seminarian who had now left the seminary and was living in England. 

During that Poirot trip Father McManus also interviewed another seminarian whom Father Donaghy had attempted to abuse in the presbytery at Whitehouse near Belfast. This second seminarian had moved to an English seminary where he had a sexual encounter with a priest of that seminary. He was later expelled from the seminary and is now living in London where he has had a serious accident and is in a most regrettable condition.

After all this Father McManus himself had to step aside after allegations against him were made by others. He has not been prosecuted but seems to have disappeared into a CHURCH LIMBO. His replacement as Chancellor, Father Eugene O'Hagan, one of the singing priests is called chancellor ad interim. Does that mean that Father McManus is planning a return?

Father O'Hagan has an exemplary reputation and was in no way connected to the seminary scandal. 

We then have the problem of the seminary spiritual director - Father Paul Symonds, formerly of the Jesuit order. Father Symonds was investigated by the British police over the abuse of a 13 tear old student at Stonyhurst College where he used to teach. It emerged that he was a paedophile podophile. The Crown Prosecution Services did not prosecute but the victim was paid damages by the Jesuits and the state.

Bishop Walsh sent Father Symonds for rehab in Canada after he was accused by a seminarian of abusing him. This rehab was to address the seminary incident but not to address the abuse of the boy at Stoneyhurst. After rehab Bishop Walsh appointed Father Symonds as a priest of Ballymena parish.

It has suggested that Father Symonds had an inappropriate relationship with a seminarian in the wing and that that seminarian had a long walk and talk with Bishop Walsh and that the seminarian was compensated financially?

Over the past few weeks - and up until this morning - I have had a number of ex seminarians from the wing in touch with me to tell me their stories. All of these ex seminarians left and did not pursue priesthood. But they all have very unhappy memories of their time in  The Wing and of the bullying that they underwent. Some of them have been left psychologically scarred by their experiences.

Most of these things happened befor Bishop Noel Treanor took over the diocese in 2008. He therefore cannot be blamed for a problem that he inherited - a problem that was obviously allowed to fester by Bishop Walsh and a problem that Fathers McManus, Symonds and Donaghy were at the heart of.

Many of the priests of the diocese are concerned and talking about these matters.

However I do think it would be a very wise and pastorally healing thing in Bishop Treanor established an internal church enquiry into the whole matter. If such an enquiry is not established - and hurts are allowed to further fester - I would be afraid that a major scandal will break out within a few very short years. 

I know that its very difficult to reopen old wounds - but old wounds that have not fully healed need to be reopened. The gathered "pus" needs to be released and dispersed. Balm needs to be applied and then true healing can begin. 

+Pat Buckley


  1. Re: Symonds - You will want to look into Dec 2001/2002 Rehab, Canada after problem with "KC". McManus had him shipped out after BIG issue in wing emerged. KC had special walk with Walsh.

  2. I presume you have spoken to former seminarians AM and JPL?

    I hope our seminary is fully cleaned up and that there has not been just a change of building.I hope the accumulated prayers of the Poor Clares will offer some protection.

    PP - D&C

  3. What is the point of popes saying that gay men are not to be accepted into seminary when it is sticking out a mile to all of us "lay people" that nearly all current seminarians are as gay as Christmas?

    Parishioner of St. Patrick's Belfast

  4. Gay Priests are the future of the Church. Get used to it Parishioner. As Pope Francs says: "Who am I to judge!" No gay priests, no priests to serve you!

    1. I have no problem with priests - straight or gay. But I do have a problem with hypocrisy. Why should any priest be lecturing to me about my sexual life and holding me to very high standards when he himself is playing the field?

      I would be happy to see priests with wives and children and would be happy to put more in my weekly envelope to help support them. I would be happy with gay priests having a committed partner.

      But I am not happy with a priest preaching about morality to me and then spending his free time with his girlfriend, boyfriend or in the gay pub and sauna in Belfast - or cruising gay pick up areas.

      There is one rule for us married Catholics and another rule for supposedly celibate priests who are off flying their kites.

      I see these seminarians with their tailored cassocks and their laced and pleated surplices mincing about and just loving to be called "Father". I know these are the future customers of the gay pubs and saunas. But they will dictate to my children and grandchildren about contraception, abortion, homosexuality etc.Let us all try and practise what we preach or STOP preaching!

      Parishioner of St Patrick's Belfast.

    2. St Patrick's Parishioner,

      Would you be interested in giving the Down & Connor priest's retreat this year? I for one would would love if you did.

      Priest with No Kite - Belfast

    3. Father,

      There is as much of a chance of me giving the priest's retreat as there is of Ian Elliott giving it. I have enough to do working part time to bring in a living wage, looking after my husband and children and minding my sick mother. But I just get very angry when I think that our priests think that they are fooling us the way they fooled previous generations. I love my faith and never miss Mass or saying my prayers. I follow God and am only prepared to follow his "middle men" when what they are telling me what God is telling me. We are all sinners. But if you want to preach you should be trying to live what you are preaching. Sometimes I wonder if our priests today believe in God at all or say their prayers.

      Parishioner of St Patrick's Belfast.

  5. Why is it you never see priests saying their prayers in the chapel any more before or after Mass? The last priest I saw praying in the chapel or reading his prayer book in the chapel grounds was Father Jimmy McCabe (RIP). I have seem Canon McGee saying his prayers in Saint Patrick's. Our priests cannot solve all our problems. We don't even want them too. But we do need them to pray for us and with us. The church needs more priests like St John Vianney.

    S. Ligoneil

    1. I know Father McCabe was a man of prayer and so is Archdeacon McGee.

      Maybe our younger priests need to take a leaf out of their prayer book.

      It is one of the jobs of the bishop to encourage priests to pray and be a man of prayer himself.


  6. Fr Pat,

    When you were in Saint Peter's I saw you and Fr McCabe saying your priest's book. You also started the wee prayer group with wee Doreen and Eileen Carson. And you had the prayer meeting for Our Lady of Mental Peace with Eddie and Margaret Robinson in St Comgall's school during the troubles. I still have the medal and prayer sheet. I miss the old days of the confraternities too. I just go to Clonard now. I feel nearer to God in there.

    1. Hello,

      I remember the two prayer groups well and many of its members are now no longer with us - Doreen, Eileen and Eddie.

      Father McCabe was a holy man.

      He left St Peter's for Ligoneil and then went to St Patricks. He never got over leaving St Peters.

      We all need prayer - and you are right - we priests should be examples of prayer. We should pray and be seen to pray


  7. I know that prayer is vital. But this blog started off about sexual, mental and emotional abuse in St Malachy's Wing and about bullying there.

    I know that if all the men involved had been men of true prayer all these bad things would not have happened.

    From what I see here there are still hurt "victims" of The Wing out there who are entitled to the truth, explanations, apologies, counselling, maybe compensation.

    These young men need PRAYER IN ACTION from Down & Connor - not lies or platitudes.

    What about it Noel? What about it Donal?


  8. Bishop Walsh aka Paddy Sniff spent years sadistically using a cane on the unfortunate pupils in his charge at St Malachys. He should be charged for this cruelity.

  9. I remember my time in the college well. I suffered at the hands of Fr Purdy who seemed to take an immediate dislike to me since I came from a poor background and lived in Turf Lodge. How could someone from the Turf pass the 11+nrang in my ears from day 1. He caned me for no reason, it seemed, every day I was there and he was only the bursar. This was excessive physical and punitive abuse for no other reason that the gratification of the perpetrator. Does my memory serve me right and was Fr Walsh in charge of the college at that time early sixties.