Sunday, 16 October 2016

MAYNOOTH IN 1966

Survivors of the emotional deep freeze – Maynooth’s class of ‘66 looks back
Students who gave up the seminary 50 years ago recall a suffocating atmosphere that infantilised seminarians, but also some rare acts of kindness and enlightenment
Kathy Sheridan THE IRISH TIMES
DENIS BERGIN AND HIS PARENTS



Previous  a recent Sunday, some 40 elderly men gathered to mark 50 years since graduation. 

The Maynooth Class of 1966. Back in September 1963, dressed in uniform black suits and mandatory hats, they travelled by train to Dublin, assembled as a group, then took the bus to Maynooth. “I clearly remember the night. It was pouring rain and you had to line up at the cottage to sign in,” recalls Kerryman, Tony Barrett. “The following day, you were given a number and that number dictated everything for the rest of your life together.”The number dictated not just your room location, but the lads – known as “immediates” – who sat either side of you in the refectory, in the church and in the classroom. The two further out were your “quasis”.

“I was number 7,” says his old friend John Costigan. In that bumper admissions year for St Patrick’s, Barrett was number 93.

Within two years, nearly half the class would have left – or as reunion organiser Denis Bergin puts it, “they had had joined those traditionally recorded in the institution’s annals as departing ‘ad vota [vows] secularia’”. Today, he says, fewer than a third of that 1963 intake are priests.




They left discreetly. “There were no mass exits, angry defections or violent protests”, says Bergin. To leave quietly was the point, for both the college and the students. Even half a century on, some familiar names remain reluctant to identify themselves as former seminarians. That class would produce some top civil servants, several distinguished academics, businessmen, politicians and a slew of teachers who rose to run colleges and secondary schools.
Since many departed Maynooth after their degree year, it might be inferred that a few had entered the seminary to get a third-level education. In 1963, free secondary education was still four years off .

Although the 1960s were an upsurge, life was tough. When Tony Barrett’s parents died within a few years of each other, he and his two young siblings were split between two aunts. To support his brother and sister he had begun an apprenticeship, but was then offered a scholarship to St Brendan’s diocesan school. His late father’s words came to mind: “It’s either the books or the boat, boy; you make your choice.”
So Barrett cycled across north Kerry with a proposal for his eight aunts and uncles; if each gave him £5 twice a year, he would be able to clothe and feed the three of them and take up the scholarship. They agreed.

‘A time of huge idealism’

John Costigan – a future Tipperary county hurler, GAA luminary and secondary teacher – recalls it as “a time of huge idealism”, with the majority of the Maynooth boys drawn from deeply conservative, rural backgrounds, the offspring of small shopkeepers and farmers.
“There was no wealth among the people and no choices. I was unique in my area for going to secondary school . . . You’d have speakers coming round to the secondary schools recruiting, putting the fear of God in your heart, saying if you had a calling and you didn’t answer it, you were nearly a candidate for eternal damnation.”

Pat Hunt, who went on to become an inspirational English teacher and commentator on education, remembers how “the diocesan college actively planted the seeds of a vocation, nurtured and brought the idea to a conclusion . . . I have no recollection of a speaker discussing an alternative way of life.”

Farrel Corcoran frames it in cultural studies terms, comparing it to the Marines in small-town America, where a dominant ideology or “a powerful ‘common sense’ takes hold at a particular historical time and penetrates just about every corner of the culture”.

In Maynooth, the outstandingly clever and ambitious lads were nicknamed “the guns”, and among the top guns was Philip Pettit. He had arrived via Garbally College in Ballinasloe, a diocesan school that in his experience guided pupils towards responsible adulthood with sensitivity. Maynooth threw this pattern into reverse, he says, describing “an infantilising institution, where the guiding plan was apparently to break the spirit and induce obedience and obeisance . . . imposing a steely timetable and a cold discipline that communicated total distrust about what we might get up to. We had very little free time and were even instructed that we should form no special friendships, an unenforceable rule that most of us happily flouted”.
A penal system was operated by deans who recorded misdeeds – one dean in particular is still remembered with anger. Then every year, on a day known as Black Friday, students were confronted with their list. One recalls that automatic excommunication was promised to any student who took a book from the library back to his room. And no, he does not believe it was a joke.

Female sightings were rare

A regular day began at 6am, when Vox Dei (the Voice of God, aka the bell) spoke and all jumped out of bed exclaiming Deo gratias and the praises of God. The main meal was eaten in silence while extracts from the Gospel were read from the pulpit (aka the “tub”) above.

Pat Hunt describes “an emotional deep freezing” that resulted from their isolation from the world. Radio was not allowed; there was no television and just a single daily newspaper. Barrett, by now a Kerry county footballer, was not allowed to play for the team he had campaigned with all the way to the All-Ireland, because the final was held during college time.

Female sightings were vanishingly rare, and sex education never featured, even in physiology classes. Barrett recalls one of the more notorious Statutes of Maynooth: “Solus cum sola non est”, which decreed that no clerical student was to be seen alone with a woman, even if that woman was his mother.

There was no escape. During holidays, they were under the supervision of their local parish priest, living under threat of being reported to Maynooth.

Many are inclined to set the harshness and oppression in the context of a generally grim time in Ireland. The average religious boarding school for example, was fairly oppressive. But for idealistic seminarians, there were exacerbating factors. Farrel Corcoran recalls the brief, tantalising whiff of a liberalising church that blew in from Pope John XX111’s reign, until it was “all but snuffed out” after his sudden death. The nadir was the arrival back at Dublin Airport from the Vatican of one of Ireland’s senior theologians, who pronounced with supreme pomposity: ‘No need for Ireland to worry about Vatican 11. There will be no change!’”

Seminarians, says Corcoran, responded with “disappointment, frustration, even rage, but then a great outbreak of coarse, earthy, ribald mocking humour (very sotto voce, of course) . . . It was a way “to sublimate our frustration with censorship, celibacy, excessively uptight rules of dress and behaviour, and obsessive-compulsive deans who tried to regulate the minutiae of daily life. Maybe it was also influenced by the wider youth restlessness that we could faintly perceive in the wider world.”
And so, the rate of departures accelerated.

Wearing coloured socks

JOHN COSTIGAN - TONY BARRETT - DENIS BERGIN


Denis Bergin describes his conflicted state of mind in terms of one hand holding 20 pages of theology notes (the subject was scheduled for the four years after the BA), while the other clutched a slew of applications to RTÉ. When he broke it to his mother that he had left, she said she wasn’t surprised. “When you were home at Christmas, you were wearing coloured socks,” she told him.

For Farrel Corcoran, the tipping point was the shock of “moving from the intellectual delights of the humanities to what I saw as the mental prison house of theology and canon law – dry, dull, meaningless.” In defiance of the dean’s directive to leave quietly, the night before he departed, he had chats with several lads who indicated that they would like to go to but felt they could not.

Tony Barrett was only in year two when he told Fr Tom Fee (later to be Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich) that the priesthood was not for him. Would he not stay on for the degree? asked the priest. Barrett replied that he would give his right arm to do that but wouldn’t have it on his conscience. “Fr Tom just looked at me and said, ‘Well, can I say this much, Tony – you will have nothing on your conscience if you stay on the year. You’ve paid your dues to God.’” Barrett would go on to become one of four regional managers in FÁS.

For all the institutional idiocies and own goals, many individual acts of grace and enlightenment gleam through the stories. Philip Pettit, “ecstatic” at discovering philosophy, found a mentor in Fr Matthew O’Donnell, who prompted the young man to write an undergraduate thesis on Jean-Paul Sartre. “The intellectual experience of coming to terms with Sartre’s work remains with me still as perhaps one of the most exciting experiences of my life.”

Unknown to Pettit, “Matto” – although seen by many other students as one of the most severe and least communicative of their professors – also persuaded the bishop and the institution to let Pettit take a year off to do an MA by thesis. It changed the young man’s life. “By the end of the year, I was hooked enough on philosophy to leave Maynooth and take my chances in the outside world.”

Pettit also speaks of a cultural richness and courage among certain professors, of finding writers such as Eliot, Joyce and Beckett, of being tutored on the deep structure of music, and even being taken through the basics of special relativity. Pat Hunt found his teacher role models in the “inspirational” professors of history and English, Fr Tom Fee and Fr Peter Connolly. Farrel Corcoran too recalls Fee’s ability to bring history to life in the lecture hall and Peter Connolly as “the most influential and memorable educator of all”, one courageous enough to defend Edna O’Brien against “enraged, moral-crusading fanatics” at public meetings.

It is difficult to reconcile this generous, enlightened thread with the asphyxiating regimentation and oppression; or the systematic infantilisation of the seminarians with the notion that beyond the gates, communities placed these profoundly immature youths on pedestals so high, they could hardly breathe. “It’s as if keeping in my good books and prayers was an investment in their afterlife”, says Pat Hunt. Like others, however, he makes the salient point that “we are all creatures of the age in which we live. I loved those people then, and still do.”

But it meant that reintegration into normal society was far from easy. The stigma of the “spoiled priest” still seeps through many of the memories. Even in Maynooth itself, “to leave” was “to cut” – “another unpleasant word”, says Hunt. While Hunt’s parents were unhappy with his decision, they were supportive at least. Such was the social humiliation for others, their sons simply stayed away from home and community.

For sportsmen such as Costigan and Barrett, the GAA was the great facilitator, offering fairly effortless re-entry to an established network.

‘It took me years to adjust’

The absence of normal relations with women had taken its toll of course. “I was 18 when I entered Maynooth, was 21 when I left it, but at an emotional age of about 15,” says one who requested anonymity. “I don’t regret attending Maynooth. But it took me years to adjust. I found it difficult to see girls as human beings, friends rather than sex objects, even ‘occasions of sin’.”

Another warns – again – that all this must be set against the cultural milieu of the time. No one of that era can forget the church’s fixation with “purity”. The notion that sex was sinful, dirty and not a natural part of life permeated Irish society, they say (though we do not dwell on who or what promoted that idea in the first place).

“I was 22 when I sampled alcohol,” says another describing re-entry. “I sat alone in a pub for an hour in ‘Will-I-won’t I?’ mode. After imbibing some Guinness I walked to a river and flung my Pioneer pin into the water. It was a symbolic moment of release from one of my inhibitions.”

For all that, they claim that no lasting damage was done. Denis Bergin says he “was probably more damaged by the events of recent times” than by any seminary experience. “It has been a bit of an embarrassment to be associated with Maynooth because of what happened there – and also to be associated with the church.”

“The Catholic Church over the years failed me,” says another. “I hardly need to recount the scandals, but the worst for me was the notion of ‘mental reservation’ about coming clean about some wayward and nasty priests”. He is one of several to mention that phrase in disgust. But he does not reject Catholicism. “James Joyce wrote about the ‘net’ of religion that was/is cast over us in childhood. I feel it all about my being. I can’t escape it. As I get older I tend to be more tolerant and less dogmatic. Time to let go.”

Philip Pettit has never regretted his decision, “not for one minute”. A decade on, at a merry, late-night party, a jaded English voice asked him what the hell made him so happy. “I found myself replying without hesitation, but to my own amazement: ‘Tis because I got out of Maynooth.’”

Farrel Corcoran reflects on the challenge for today’s seminarians. “Life must be very complicated, because the power of that dominant ideology has melted away almost completely”. He tells of one old classmate, who died, still a priest, still desperate for an answer to the big question: “Where did it all go wrong?”

Denis Bergin

Born in Kilkenny, Bergin grew up near Durrow, Co Laois. After leaving Maynooth, he worked in Brussels for a few years before beginning a 25-year career in technical publishing and public relations, during which he relocated to Charleston, South Carolina. He is a writer and editor on heritage subjects and director of the programme commemorating Kilkenny-born James Hoban, architect and builder of the White House. He now lives by the Grand Canal near Shannon Harbour in west Offaly, with Carol, his wife of 34 years.

Farrel Corcoran
Born in Borrisokane, Corcoran went to secondary school in St Finian’s College, Mullingar, before joining the seminary. After some teaching in Ireland, Spain and Saudi Arabia, and a stint in RTÉ, he went to the US to do postgraduate work, earning a PhD from the University of Oregon. He worked as an academic in the University of New Mexico and Northern Illinois university. He and his wife reared three children in the US, and returned to Ireland in the mid-1980s, where he joined DCU as head of communications and dean of the faculty of humanities. He spent a second stint in RTÉ in the 1990s as chairman of the RTÉ Authority.

Philip Pettit



Born in Ballygar, Co Galway, Pettit went to school in Garbally College, Ballinasloe, and after leaving Maynooth, lectured at UCD before moving on to become a research fellow at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and professor of philosophy at the University of Bradford. In 1983 he moved to the Australian National University and since 2002, has been Laurence Rockefeller university professor of politics and human values at Princeton University, where he teaches political theory and philosophy. He is also professor of philosophy at the Australian National University. He holds numerous academy fellowships, and honorary professorships at Sydney University and Queen’s University,Belfast, along with many honorary degrees from around the world. The author of many books, he will be presenting the Locke lectures in Philosophy at Oxford University in spring 2019.


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DEATH OF A GOOD BISHOP




FROM A SCOTTISH BLOG READER: 

Further to our conversation this morning re Bishop John here is a small tribute to a man of God who, in my opinion and ,indeed in the opinion of most people I know, stood head and shoulders above all of our other Bishops.

I feel that in light of the news coming from so many parts of the world about clergy and particularly senior clergy are leading lives that do not seem to be in keeping with the example of Our Blessed Lord that it might be good to let the people reading your blog that there is still hope in the Church.  Maybe it will take a different path, or indeed, many paths, but it will survive because Jesus promised us that 'He would be with us, yes, to the end of time.'  

Bishop, I pray daily for you that you will succeed in bringing about a renewal and changes that are needed.  For what it is worth, I think that you may be following the right path in in looking at the money situation both in Ireland and here in Scotland.  God Bless you.  M.


Bishop John Mone, who died this morning in Scotland, was the Bishop Emeritus of Paisley Diocese.  He was a gentleman to his fingertips.  A simple, humble ,gentle and generous man.  He treated everyone, whether they were princes or paupers, rich or poor, with the same gentle respect.He had the gift of remembering people very well and and would invariably greet people by name when he met them.  When he visited parishes or functions he tried to greet as many people as possible and did not limit himself to the 'important folk'.  Since his retirement he has supplied in parishes as often as he could, he was always available to help where he was needed.  For the last couple of years his health has been deteriorating but he still kept a lively interest in the Diocese, his family and even the Pioneers, which he had been a member for over sixty years. He was a real asset to the Church here in Scotland and will be sadly missed.  Heavens gain is Scotland's great loss.

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106 comments:

  1. I had the privilege of meeting Bishop John Mone once when I was a Seminarian in England. A total gentleman, very kind and humble. He remembered my name after speaking to hundreds of people, I couldn't believe he was a Bishop because he was so natural and totally down to earth. I am saddened to hear of his death, I just wish many other Bishops would follow his example. Rest in peace Bishop John, go forth Christian soul. English Priest

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  2. MourneManMichael16 October 2016 at 10:55

    Reading the Maynooth Class of 1966's experience brought back some memories of similar. Leaving another ROI seminary as I did in '68 in third Divinity year I was fortunate in that my college, by comparison, was much more enlightened and non oppressive in the sense that while yes, there were restrictive rules and obligations, there was none of the petty negative hostility endemic to Maynooth.
    But there inevitably were the same common perceptions and expectations of those days in rural Ireland.
    I well recall arriving home and telling my parents I'd left. Having no other clothes than my clerical black I asked for some money to buy "civvies". "Sure why don't you just keep wearing them,"(the black)was my mother's reply, "And nobody will know!". Nicely sums up the attitudes of those days.
    My GAA friends greatly helped, the local teacher chairman found me a supply teaching post after which I went on to University. But while the inexperienced naivity of six years seminary 'seclusion' inevitably led to some 'rude awakenings', I have few regrets. I think the positivity and caring humanity of my college days helped shape my outlook.
    MMM

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  3. Keep wearing the black - perfect irish comment.

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  4. When I left an Irish Seminary after two years my Mother said, "How am I going to face people up the street". That was 1992 and I've never forgotten it.

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    Replies
    1. Your mum got indoctrinated at school
      Not her fault
      That she thought having a priest in the family was the height of sophistication and of being important in the community
      It isn't only priests who get their minds disturbed by the rc church
      All of us laity got our minds disturbed by the fact we got Catholic education
      All this no sex before marriage and no sex education until recent years

      Delete
  5. She wouldn't have to worry now,nobody bothers chatting up the street thess days
    A relative was sent home from a college, not ireland, his friend got ordained, but never took up ministry, and left
    My relative wasn't told why he sent home...he married

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  6. Your mum prob belonged to the generations who were denied further education
    You need to try and move away from those negative thoughts
    Go out to a music night, relax, and enjoy a wine or 2

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  7. I hope that all of you who left college found yourselves...wise move to move out
    I truly prayed that none of my children would enter a convent or be a priest
    I nearly entered a convent, do not know my reasoning for it at the time, possibly to avoid the real world
    And the nuns who taught me from 4 were perfect bitches, including wigging at my hair most days

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  8. Why do homosexuals dwell so much on the sex act
    Why is it so important to them
    I'm of the opinion that heterosexuals are not early as sexually obsessed
    Can anyone enlighten me??? An ordinary thinking heterosexual
    I really am Serious...it is a serious question

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    Replies
    1. I think it varies with both homosexuals and heterosexuals and can also vary with age.

      Many gay people are more interested in all round intimacy and not just sex.

      Delete
  9. You never see heterosexuals
    Cruising around beaches or going into all heterosexuals bars with the sole aim of having sex...or going to orgies

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    Replies
    1. Yes you do! There's many a completely straight married man does the rounds as well.

      Delete
    2. Anon 15.36 you need to get out more or start watching ch5 . Have you ever herd of that popular heterosexual pastime dogging ? And I assure you its got nout to do with crufts . There is also swinging , very popular among married couples . And if they don't appeal and you want more slap than tickle try bdsm it's a hit with married men especially high court judges . And if your a really really dirty gurty or burty then embrace yourself in watersports or scatt the hetros in Germany seem to love it but you can just Google that for yourself but wait til you've had ur dinner first lol

      Delete
    3. Yes you do - dogging on every beach in Ireland , swingers parties , sex with ladies of the night

      Delete
  10. oh really... red light districts, strip clubs, sex clubs, brothels, swingers parties...! Have you ever watched a documentary about Falaraki or Magaluf??

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  11. Is it not quite a statement about the quality of Gaynooth's "formation" that Donal O'Neill, one of its recent "formators", has now left the priesthood???

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    Replies
    1. Tremble... Enda's BACK...

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    2. Never criticise a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins...Amerrican Indian proverb.

      Delete
  12. @15:36, you are good craic, have you ever been to a club? Maybe you thought everyone went because they love to dance. Really thought Tinder was about people finding love? Maybe you thought that the women on fabswingers.com were really men in drag? Maybe you thought Ashley Madison was for gay married couple to cheat rather than straight married couples to cheat? I could go on for quite a while about heterosexual focus on the sexual act...... Maybe you are a social recluse who needs to get a life?

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    Replies
    1. Why do you have to get personal to a poster, thought we all adults here
      Yes I know about all the above
      But it's still my opinion that being gay , young men seem to need to have sex, where as many young heterosexuals Can keep it in their trousers until they may meet the right one...they are not all like Evans

      Delete
  13. Some people seem to be saying that homosexuals are no more promiscuous than heterosexuals. On an individual basis this might sometimes be so but let's be honest, homosexuals are much more likely to have numerous (very numerous) sex 'partners' than heterosexuals. Google Joseph Sciambra if you want a full account of the way of life of at least a large minority, if not a majority. Easy and instant availability seems to be the key which leads to addiction and experimentation. True there are sex addicts who are not homosexual but they are in the 'ha'penny seats' by comparison.
    EL

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    1. It's not true at all heterosexuals have as much sex with multiple partners as homosexuals do its just homosexuals are far more relaxed about sex it's not a taboo subject for them . Ask a straight man if he has a wank everyday odds on he will say he never dus it also as any gay man will tel you most promiscuous gay sex carried out in toilets car parks ect is dun by married men . Gays and straights are no different in there sexual habits or there morals . Go into a gay club and proposition someone and ur more likely to get a slap and the same goes for a straight club . Gays are sadly stereotyped everyone thinks we are all sex mad it's just not the case . As boy george once said I'd rather have a cup of tea

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    2. Do you want some stats?
      EL

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    3. I don't need stats I'm out there living it . Stats are useless bits of paper that prove nothing . Asking a 100 people 10 questions dus not reflect a comunity

      Delete
    4. See below. If expertly collected stats are 'useless bits of paper' then I should tell the statisticians. Wishing don't make it so, sorry.
      EL

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  14. Thank you E L that is exactly how I see it too

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  15. As one week is put to bed, Pat, and another begins, have you laid to rest +DM and Damo Pro and Galway Garv et al? Are you done? Isn't all this just the way of the world?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe. But all these stories will develop.

      We in the church are not supposed to buy fully into the way of the world - but so often we do.

      Delete
  16. Did you ever ask Kevin Doran, your old Clonliffe room-mate, to come on here and answer a few questions to somewhere that gets more priest readers than the Irish Catholic, Universe and Herald combined?

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    Replies
    1. Maybe I will email him?

      Im not so sure he would enjoy hearing from me?

      Maybe I misjudge him?

      Delete
  17. 15 . 16 is my post
    And as a complaint against this format I was unable to change early into nearly
    I know I've got scolded for complaining , but it's true.
    And another thing, sometimes ones sentence is divided into 2 lines.

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    Replies
    1. I will pass on all feedback to my IT man.

      Delete
  18. Very sad reading here today about how some viewed their Formation
    And how they adapted to the living world after they left and about how some don't want to talk about it, probably not even to their families
    And if Cardinal o Fee was such a great man as Fr Fee, how did he change so much
    If he had been a true Christian , he would not have had the debacle of Fr M Ginnity on his conscience
    No he was a coverer Upper

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    Replies
    1. I agree. O Fiaich hung McGinnity out to dry!

      Delete
  19. I've thought on the question of promiscuity since leaving seminary, wondering about the apparent high levels of homosexual people appearing to have more sex partners than heterosexual people. My conclusion, and I could be wrong, is as follows.

    We live in a society where sexual morals are inherently catholic. This means as we raise children we essentially condition them through teasing and chatting into the belief that they will have girl friends and boy friends of the other gender. As they get older they try this. For some it doesn't work, and in many a case this results in a bit of experiment. This can result in trying sex before trying a relationship. This can result in a few sexual partners before figuring one's own self out. Of course both heterosexual and homosexual persons can experiment a bit.

    Does any of it matter? It will in the sense that the catholic church teaches us to aim for faithfulness to a life long partner. I believe in faithfulness to a life long partner, but by the time we found each other we both had had a few heterosexual partners because we both had been in relationships that hadn't worked. What matters for us is, 1: faithfulness going forward and 2: at all times in the past we were fair and honest with consulting adults while being true to ourselves, we did not live double lives or break vows.

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  20. Bishop Kevin Doran was born on 26 June 1953 to parents Joseph Doran and Marie Brady (both died in 2002). He has two younger sisters Colette and Patricia.

    Bishop Kevin began his seminary formation at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe (1970-1974) in a room opposite that right bollox Bishop Patricia Buckley and completed his preparation for ordination at the Pontifical Irish College, Rome. He was ordained a Deacon on 6 May 1976 by the late Bishop Dominic Conway (former Bishop of Elphin from 1971 – 1996) in Rome, and was ordained a priest of Dublin Diocese on 6 July 1977 by Bishop Patrick Dunne, in Our Lady of Victories Church, Sallynoggin, Dublin. He was appointed Bishop of Elphin on May 14th 2014 and ordained bishop on July 13th of the same year.

    Academic Qualifications:

    Bishop Kevin’s undergraduate studies led to the award of a BA in Philosophy and French (1974) from the University College Dublin and an STB – Bachelor of Sacred Theology (1977) from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was awarded an MA in Philosophy (1987) from UCD for his thesis on the philosophy of the Human Person in the thought of Thomas Aquinas and Bernard Lonergan. This was followed in 1995 by the award of a PhD from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), for a thesis entitled “Solidarity: A Synthesis of Personalism and Communalism in the thought of Karol Wojytla / Pope John Paul II”

    Kevin has never refused to speak to anyone, not least to a Priest Forever of the Order of Melchizedek.

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  21. Bishop Kevin Doran
    Bishop of Elphin
    St Mary’s
    Temple Street
    Sligo
    071-9150106
    office@elphindiocese.ie

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  22. I see Kevin Doran mentioned here again. At least Pat your sins - whatever they may be - are out in the plain open unlike so many of the rest of us bolloxes. The sinner in the back of the synagogue who would not lift his head up but only repeated "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner" went away forgiven, while the hypocrites in clerics were not forgiven.

    So, Kevin is a good man at heart and not a Judge. He would never turn away a sinner such as ourselves...

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  23. I must admit I found it rather difficult adjusting to the real world after leaving Sligo. Not only seminary tended to promote a controlled environment but many a young curate was faced with the same dilemma. Maybe what the church is experiencing now is the antithesis to the totalitarian regime of the past

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    1. Sean, if you had been in Maynooth anytime during the past 20 years and a Formator took a dislike to you, it would have been Totalitarian All The Way.

      Delete
    2. Thank God I went to Rome then in 81. I must have gotten off lightly

      Delete
  24. Donal o Neill ( don't know him) is typical of what is so wrong with Formation
    Pat, why do you never give your opinion on this psychological disturbance of young men's minds.
    I get more shocked by it the more I read about it

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    Replies
    1. What has and is happening in Maynooth to seminarians is the ABUSE of VULNERABLE ADULTS by staff and out of control seminarians!

      Delete
  25. Donal O'Neill, to be fair to him, was about a 2 on the Richter Scale. Enda Cunningham was about 10 on the Richter Scale by comparison - in fact he was off the scale.

    Donal at least knew how to smile and was very personable. I wish him the very best in his new relations with a woman.

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    1. One day, walking with a seminarian, Donal, pointing at a yuung woman said: "What do you think of the tits on that"!

      Hardly appropriate talk from a priest formator to a seminarian?

      More like a Trump outburst!

      Delete
    2. Come in Pat, he had the balls to jack it in and get a woman!

      Delete
    3. One day, walking with a seminarian, most of the faculty of Maynooth, pointing at a young man said, "What do you think of the arse on that!" And nobody gave a fiddlers...

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    4. That is as inappropriate too. No standards being set. Not a way for priest formators to talk to seminarians.

      Delete
  26. Pat, have you had any more contact about the problems in the diocese of Ferns you posted about a few weeks ago? Did any of those concerned parents get in touch with you?

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    Replies
    1. Bishop Pat, I can tell you that the Ferns story is a pack of lies invented by an extremely dysfunctional and malevolent priest in that diocese.

      This man is drunk most of the time in his parochial house and in public. He is an admirer of Miceal Ledwith.

      He is making up vicious lies about innocent people - twisting perfectly innocent situations and putting a malicious interpretation on them.

      The man is the "leader" of a very small group of disaffected clerics who look down their noses at Bishop Brennan - a very good man - because of his lack of academic qualifications.

      They are also furious at Bishop Brennan and the diocese because some of their buddies were sacked from the priesthood over their abuse of children and youngsters. They bitterly resent the Ferns Report.

      The same small group, led by this nasty drunk, did all they could to stymie Bishop Eamonn Walsh's efforts to clean up Ferns - sending anonymous letters to newspapers and talking "off the record" to journalists - all in an effort to undermine Bishop Walsh's vital task.

      There is no group of "concerned parents". There is simply a small cabal of very bad "priests", led by a nutcase, trying to make lots of mischief.

      Wicklow Willie.

      Delete
    2. Well said Wicklow Willie! That needed to be said. We all know exactly who you are taking about too!

      Vinegar Hill.

      Delete
    3. And that small cabal are getting very nervous as the madman gets crazier and crazier ;-)

      Tara Hill Tom

      Delete
    4. Absolutely spot on Wicklow Willie. A small knot of a corrupt "old guard" in the diocese of Ferns, bitterly resent Bishop +Denis. It is pure jealousy and snobbery.

      Not one of them could hold a candle to +Denis Brennan in terms of decency, kindness, wisdom and humanity. You see, Bishop Brennan is a Christian and a true pastor.

      This little crew backed the drunken, malicious fool who is doing again what he does best - telling vicious lies and inventing nasty tales - writing anonymous letters and being generally devious.

      All of these - and they are not many - are tired old has beens - and the bold Demon Drinker was their 'great white hope' for the restoration of Ferns' "greatness".

      Fortunately, however, they pinned their hopes on an idiot who lacks intelligence and ability.

      The Demon Drinker's little crew of "disciples" are the last remnant of that dysfunctional clerical system in Ferns that is now documented forever in the Ferns Report.

      Most of them will be dead in a few years and face to face with their Maker. The Demon Drinker, who is a bit younger than most of his fan base, knows too that his number is up. He is now known as a drink-fuelled vituperative mass of boiling resentment and atrocious personal hygiene.

      The vast majority of priests and people in Ferns support Bishop Brennan and are fully behind the safe environment for children and young people that now exists in the diocese.

      The clerical culture of the Demon Drinker's little cabal of yesterday's men, spawned the likes of Sean Fortune, Donal Collins, John Kinsella, Mick Ledwith, Jim Doyle, et alia. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

      Pete,
      Poulfur.

      Delete
  27. Bishop Patrick. I want to put you on the spot. If Diarmuid Martin was serious about his recent action against Maynooth, why do you think he has now appointed a former Formator of Maynooth as Vocations' Director in Dublin? Is this not a crying contradiction? I ask you because you spoke to him recently.

    Is he serious or just a hypocrite?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have regretfully come to the conclusion that he is ppaying games and church politics :-)

      It seems we have an ecclesiastical Charlie Haughey on our hands?

      Delete
    2. Yes, Pat, what kind of signal is that sending out to the Diocese of Dublin and to the other Bishops?

      Delete
    3. But how sad is that in an Archbishop, Pat!!!

      Delete
  28. Word of the Day for Enda Cunningham:

    RECUSE (Transitive Verb)

    To disqualify (oneself) as judge in a particular case; to remove (oneself) from participation in a role to avoid a conflict of interest; to refuse an office on grounds of incompatibility

    Enda, your record in Maynooth goes behind you and before you. If you are a Man at all, recuse yourself from the role of Vocations' Director of the Dublin Archdiocese, please.

    You watched a lot of TV in Clonliffe. Get a TV instead.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Surely some of the priests of the Dublin Diocese who know EC will speak out and advise him to step back?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have just logged on. Reading this stuff about +DM is totally depressing.

    ReplyDelete
  31. ANON 20:11

    NOBODY IN THE DUBLIN DIOCESE WILL EVER SPEAK OUT ABOUT ANYTHING.

    GROW UP. SMELL THE ABSENT COFFEE.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Why do you think there are NO vocations in the Dublin diocese anymore?

    ReplyDelete
  33. At least The Irish Catholic and Michael Kelly (Hi, Michael) will be able to ask Enda in his introductory article about his No Kneeling At The Consecration days so recently in Maynooth and if this will apply to applicants in the Diocese. Looking forward to that interview, Michael!

    ReplyDelete
  34. What happened to Fr Eamonn Bourke as VC? A very nice and holy young priest?

    ReplyDelete
  35. @anon 19:33

    We cannot know Donal left priesthood for a woman, she might not have been on the scene before he went for yet another of his many sabbaticals.

    The motive of this power hungry man to leave the priesthood may have been the realisation that he just got passed over for bishop. Also bishop Ray was at least slightly more open than bishop bill when it came to hearing a complaint against Donal - even if Ray did bugger all about it. Donal might not have been the golden boy he had been under Bill, but that will forever be between Ray and Donal.

    As for the comments on Fr Enda I shall share my experience of him. When Donal was at the height of bullying me I was driven to near suicide. I'd contemplated and planned how I would do it. I was planning on hanging myself in the stairwell of St. Mary's house, near the oratory. I planned to do it in the middle of the night so nobody would intervene.

    That evening I knocked on Enda's door. I asked if I could talk to him and I told him about what was being done to me. There is only so much one format or can say about another. That evening Enda said that I was clear that Donal was not giving me enough space to live as a person needed and he would bring that back to the council to ask Donal to stop what he was doing.

    Needless to say that night I didn't commit suicide because of Enda. He acknowledged the abuse and he gave me hope. I rang him a few years after and thanked him, it I never told him about what his intervention meant that night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank God you survived.

      I feel very deeply about the state you were driven to !!!

      Delete
    2. Thank God you survived.

      I feel very deeply about the state you were driven to !!!

      Delete
  36. A terrible f****** story about a terribly insane seminary!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Is Maynooth a Seminary or a Torture Chamber? What an awful story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems we were not exaggerating when we called Maynooth a GULAG!

      Delete
  38. Well Bishop Pat, if people wonder why you run your blog, the mere fact that you allow such a tale of suffering to be published about Maynooth is all the validity you will ever require. No-one else would bring this horror material to view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ok. But it cries out for retribution and punishment.

      It should be closed and bulldozed.

      Irelands Catholic Nazi Camp - without the gas chambers.

      Delete
  39. Agree entirely.

    ReplyDelete
  40. What is this all about kneeling, of course The gullible Laity were never asked if they wanted or were expected to kneel or not kneel
    Only ever heard it discussed here
    Fom one who can't kneel

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We will never know the full extent of human suffering that has happened in Maynooth since 1795 - 221 years of horrors - and aall in the name of God !!!

      Delete
  41. So it's ok for laity to kneel
    But seminarians could be shown the door for kneeling

    ReplyDelete
  42. Some years ago it has been decided by Maynooth Seminary Council, Des Hillery and Enda Cunningham that kneeling by seminarians in st. Mary's oratory during the consecration of the Mass was to be forbidden because it contradicted the architecture of the Oratory.

    A large number of young seminarians rebelled against this instruction and it divided the seminary for some years and caused a terrible atmosphere.

    A number of seminarians were cast out as a result of this conflict.

    Enda supported and implemented this Edikt. He is now being raised to the office of Vocations Director for the Dublin archdiocese by Dermot Martin.

    They never learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is outrageous. The sheer arrogance of these men.it's as if the enemies of catholicism are running (ruining?) maynooth. Is it too much to ask that the maynooth staff be catholics?

      Delete
    2. Their God is called Narcissus.

      Delete
  43. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. What is the antidote?

    ReplyDelete
  44. So is kneeling a thing of the past in the oratory
    How extrodinary is this
    Is it banned anywhere else for architectural goingson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surely reverence for the Lord surpasses all architecture?

      Delete
    2. The whole assembly standing for the consecration is meant to stress that the whole assembly is celebrating the eucharist together, with the priest as president. I.e. To contradict the idea of the priest c lrbrating the mass and the people worshipping on their knees.
      Of course many modern Catholic churches don't even have facilities to kneel. I don't know about the chapel at Maynot. Is it a welcoming worship space for the president and assembly?

      Delete
  45. Pat have
    You ever had a sabatical?
    Wouldn't mind one
    A whole Year off courtesy Of the laity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am 40 years ordained.

      Never had - or never felt need of sabbatical - a year off priesthood?

      Priesthood is my life and joy.

      Delete
  46. Pat can you not ask this young man was there no one else he could go to to complain about this bullying treatment long before reaching the absolute precipice of suicide?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Why doesn't the radical Association of Catholic Priests ever speak out about abuses in Maynooth?

    I thought 'radical' meant speaking out for the powerless?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite simply, the ACP does not speak out on abuses in Maynooth because they are part of the problem! They support an agenda which is anything but fidelity to authentic Catholicism - and it is this lack of authentic Catholicism which is destroying Maynooth and which is driving young people from the Church. The ACP is intent on trying to revive the happy-clappy Church of the 1970's. Many of the members are disgruntled because the reality is that the happy-clappy, DIY, "we're all going to heaven" Church is not authentic Catholicism - yet they continue to flog the dead horse.

      Besides, did you not see the ACP's press release in August which basically said that the "controversy" about Maynooth was best interests of the Church! Worryingly, I seem to recall a number of abuse reports in recent years which documented this same attitude among some bishops. The ACP also said that the attention was "unfair and unwarranted". That's right: the "radical" ACP that so wants reform of the Church in Ireland took the same position as the Maynooth authorities: deny, deny, deny.

      Delete
  48. Why oh why could bullying ever be tolerated in a seminary in Holy Ireland
    How could the men looking after the wellbeing of young. Allow this?
    Don't mention that word ever again
    FORMATION.....forming what....who thought it up
    Was it imported in from gastapo?

    ReplyDelete
  49. The young man's diocese surely had a Duty of Care after sending him into that hellhole, and could certainly have been sued for dereliction of care. The time will come.

    ReplyDelete
  50. @22:15
    Who do you go to? There is no complaints procedure. I told Hugh Connolly, he listened but did nothing. Dermot Farrell did not speak with seminarians and he is not the type of priest that can be simply approached.

    The college vocational counsellor confirmed that what Donal said of me was not true. The bishops secretary, (who was in Maynooth around the same time as Donal) just kept repeating that Donal is not a man to be trusted and definitely not a man to be on the wrong side of. He also added that i was the problem because i had obviously not dealt with priests except in a pastoral context. The bishops secretary simply put more pressure on me with his reaction. Some lecturing staff I could talk to were very supportive about my situation but I never felt I could open up about the depths of how bad things were. In Maynooth you simply can't trust the formation team. Another seminarian spoke about being depressed, he was removed from the community immediately.

    Being in the situation I genuinely felt that I had a vocation but I couldn't cope with Maynooth. I was younger, I was not then able to cope with the extent of bullying - that said I should not have had to cope with bullying from a formator.

    Also, thank you for presuming I'm a 'young man'. Looks like Donal O'Neill is online, reading the comments and trying to guess who I am. If I'm right and you are Donal, I want to say I'm doing OK for myself, you didn't destroy me but you probably destroyed your own vocation.

    ReplyDelete
  51. @18:02, it might be your opinion but it is backed up by no evidence whatsoever. I have yet to meet any young heterosexual male below the age of 40 who has kept it in his pants until he met the right one with the except of a very few fundamentalist protestants. And how on earth would you know what gay males are doing other than what you have read on the internet? So maybe it is time up update your opinions based on something other than bigotry? Just a revolutionary thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So everyone you meet confides their sexual activities to you? Do be serious. What I have read on the internet includes serious statistical research by experts as well as the experiences of those once obsessed with homosexuality. Just Google Joseph Sciambra and read all the expertly acquired stats. that you will ever need on the subject. I regard homosexual acts in the same light as the Catechism - it is a disorder and there is absolutely no scientific proof that it is genetic, if that makes me a 'bigot' in your dimmed eyes, then so be it.
      EL

      Delete
  52. I don't think that Donald is on line by any posts.i do hope you are in a much better place mentally
    From your posts I think You are no longer a priest or student.
    If it's any consolation I think Donald's woman will make a man of him through time

    ReplyDelete
  53. I am the person who imagined you were a young enough man to be in that situation. You are speaking to the converted. I was in the Ninth Circle of Hell myself. I'm afraid I had no good experience of Enda and I respect your experience of him and his reaction to you. He did the opposite to many people I know and I hope we may all one day forgive him.

    ReplyDelete
  54. You are still addressing the poster not the post 23.04 Not very civil way of being
    Maybe I work at the coal face treating std's
    Never be too quick to jump the gun
    My opinion still stands

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @23:31
      Hi Donal.

      Delete
    2. 23 50...do you know what a s t d is?
      Also I'm female and didn't have sex until I married
      Neither did the man I married
      Yes we Catholic

      Delete
  55. All these sad stories
    Could someone somewhere pull the plug on that hell hole

    ReplyDelete
  56. @23:15
    I got back to my room one day some months after my encounter with Enda. It was clear to all that my formation wasn't going well. One of the lads left a note on my door; to this day I don't know who left it. It read, "when I struggle here I turn to Sirach 2:5-11".

    None of us were truely alone in our suffering, not me nor you. But the formators isolated us with their instructions not to be talking about meetings with anybody. It was all abuse. None of us should have had to endure the abuse.I hope life has been good to you since.

    To be balanced and fair I must also observe that I know others had a hard time with Enda - I'd not realised the extent until tonight.

    ReplyDelete
  57. No young person should commit to a formation system where u have no rights, no contract of employment, no handbook of required behaviour in the way u have if a secular student or in employment.

    You get your head messed about by formators who themselves have rarely served in parishes yet they select future priests. Step forward Tom Clancy, Niall Ahern, Paul Prior.

    You can be dismissed at a moment's notice, losing your student place if on a degree course, your place of residence, and you return home rejected.

    Don't do it. You deserve better.

    And don't get me started on the ethical issues of untrained deans/formators acting as poor man's psychiatrists.

    ReplyDelete