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Chapter 2 — Upton

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Sexual abuse


Fr Fabiano, Resident Manager at Upton, wrote to the Provincial at Rome referring to this Brother. He said that he had done nothing more about an episode concerning him. He added: as it would be needlessly bringing things into the limelight again and I could do nothing without authority. The assertion about [Br Fausto] came up casually as having happened in the past and I decided that the prudent thing to do was leave it in the past while you decided what should be done. My own opinion about the matter is that he should quietly get a change and be taken out of the danger because it will always be there.


Other documentary references to the Brother are even more vague, although generally suggestive of reasons for apprehension about his behaviour. For example, one comment read, ‘Fr Salvatore ... told me that he did not consider Fausto’s influence there as being to the spiritual advantage of the Novices’.


Another reference discussed his suitability as follows: you don’t mention Kilmurry; from what Fr Salvatore ... was saying to me, I have my doubts if Fausto is the best one for that house. But the Novice Master holds him in high esteem.


Another document remarked that his conscience was in a class of its own: I hope Fausto won’t be a destructive element in the Novitiate I think he has a conscience that is sui generis.39 At Omeath he used to bring the Scholastics with him, secretly, for a smoke.


In another letter, the Resident Manager said he knew of the Brother’s propensities for particular friendships.


In a letter from the Superior General to Fr Orsino, Provincial in Ireland, he wrote: As regards the other, I can understand that because he flatly denies everything, one can only give him the benefit of the doubt. However, from what you write, it seems there is some suspicion in his regard and this obliges us to make provision for the future. You say that the there is more than one victim. This needs to be checked out with great prudence, or else find a good excuse for sending Fausto away from Upton.


Concerns about this Brother are expressed in correspondence from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. It seems clear that there was grave suspicion about his conduct. The evidence of Br Alfonso and Fr Giovani put the position beyond doubt, and reveals the full meaning of the earlier written statements. The failure to express these concerns clearly indicated a degree of concern on the part of the authorities that no information should escape on this issue, as it was seen to be potentially damaging. Such secrecy resulted in the serious consequence that there was reduced consciousness about the problem. The interest of the Order in avoiding adverse publicity was given priority over the protection of the boys. Transferring the Brother to Ferryhouse was another example of a reckless approach to child protection. The Rome file: Br Mateo40


Br Mateo was a postulant in the Franciscan Friaries in Killarney and Louvain during the 1930s. No records exist about his departure from the Franciscans. He joined the Rosminians in the late 1930s, and made his perpetual vows in the mid-1940s. He was sent to Upton for just over a year in the mid-1940s, and he then went to Omeath for almost 15 years, before returning to Upton in the late 1950s.


This is another Brother who was discovered by Br Alfonso to have been sexually abusing children in Upton. The matter is referred to in a letter in the late 1950s from the Provincial, Fr Placido, to the Superior General, Fr Lucca, without mentioning Br Alfonso’s involvement: Bro Mateo here has recently been indiscreet cum puero41 or perhaps cum pueris42 so Fr R deems it advisable that he should be changed to avoid danger or talk especially in view of the big influx. We thought first of sending him to Kilmurry but the Rector put forward good reasons against that apart from the fact that the place would be unsuitable for the brother’s health in view of the insomnia from which he suffers. We are of the opinion that Omeath would be the better place where he had been previously ... and there was no complaint about him as regards conduct ... Bro Mateo should be satisfactory ... and I think his slip will be a lesson to him to be careful and watchful ...


Fr Placido wrote again, expressing his relief at having received a reply to his previous letter, which he feared had gone astray, a matter which would have concerned him greatly as it contained references to matters about Br Mateo which he did not wish to become widely known. In the same letter he stated: I don’t think we need worry about Bro Mateo at Omeath as he has got a warning and the Rector will be vigilant. There wasn’t much of a serious nature against him si dice.43


A complainant from the late 1950s gave evidence that corroborated Br Alfonso. He alleged he was sexually assaulted by Br Mateo in his early days in the School. He recalled he was playing ball one evening and the ball went into the hall. Br Mateo found the ball and called the complainant over and sat him on his knee and fondled his privates and kissed him. This abuse went on over a period of time until it was eventually reported to Br Alfonso. He did not officially report it to Br Alfonso. What actually happened was that Br Alfonso found him coming out of the hall one night when he had been missing from the games room. He was initially frightened to tell Br Alfonso what was happening but eventually he did, and he was told to go and wait for Br Alfonso in the office. Some time later, Br Alfonso came back and questioned him further, and he gave all the details and was told not to worry any more as Br Mateo would be transferred. During the hearing into this evidence, counsel for the Rosminians intervened and said that they accepted that it had happened as described.


No steps were taken to dismiss this Brother, but he was transferred to another school where it was believed that he would be less of a danger. The Provincial was complacent and did not regard what the Brother had been doing as being extremely serious, referring to it as a ‘slip’. The Rome file: Br Mario44


Br Mario’s parents died when he was young, and he was raised by the Rosminians at Upton. He took his perpetual vows three years later. In the mid-1950s, he was transferred to Upton and appointed to an administrative role. In the early 1960s, he was sent to Ferryhouse where he was appointed as an assistant to the Rector.


He was discovered by Br Alfonso to have been sexually abusing boys during his posting in Ferryhouse, where he had been transferred following his term in Upton. A letter from the Provincial to the Superior General in the mid-1960s reported the discovery, and stated that the Brother had been transferred to Kilmurry for the time being. The letter said: that there were two members of his community who had been rather indiscreet with the boys and owing to some talk there and admiratio45 he wished to have the two changed sine mora.46 One was Br Mario47 ... and went to Clonmel [Ferryhouse] at the request of Fr Alanzo ... He admitted his faults and went to Kilmurry on 19th pro tem and about the middle of January Fr Pietro48 will find suitable work for him in the office there – at Drumcondra and so will accept him with the debite cautele49 ... You will fully appreciate in such circumstances how instant action is often necessary and the changes made are a cover up in some respects.


He wrote again, a month later, stating that: I hope you got two previous letters I sent ... the second one was about the changes of the brothers I was compelled to make owing to two who failed in fidelity to the sacredness of their work amongst the boys.

  1. Quoted in Bríd Fahey Bates, The Institute of Charity: Rosminians. Their Irish Story 1860–2003 (Dublin: Ashfield Publishing Press, 2003), p 74.
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  5. 1933 Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann, Rule 12.
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  28. Latin for curiosity, astonishment, surprise.
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  39. Latin for in a class of its own.
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  41. Latin for with a boy.
  42. Latin for with boys.
  43. Latin for As spoken.
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  45. Latin for curiosity, astonishment, surprise.
  46. Latin for without delay.
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  49. Latin for due caution.
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  54. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
  55. Records exist for only 19 of the 23 years.
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