Another Rosminian priest, Fr Christiano,4 who had also been a pupil in Upton, gave evidence to the Committee from two perspectives. He was in Upton as a pupil during the 1950s. He remembered an atmosphere dominated by punishment, which was meted out for misdemeanours such as talking in the dormitory, or causing difficulty for the supervisor in the workshop. The punishments were usually administered in the office by the Prefect. He recalled a particular incident of group punishment, when some boys, who had been confined to a small recreation room for the day while others attended a sports event, were punished for trashing the room and scattering the board games. His impression was that each boy got about 20 ‘benders’, and he recalled that it only stopped because an older boy challenged the Brother who had been beating the boys until he had exhausted himself.
Fr Christiano was a promising student and was sent to the Rosminian secondary school in Omeath. He remembered it felt like getting out of prison. He also recalled there was no corporal punishment in Omeath. The atmosphere there was not punitive.
When Fr Christiano was asked how he reconciled the religious life, which involved love, charity and kindness, with a system that required men of the cloth to be brutal and severe, he replied that he did not believe that this was a requirement. The post of Prefect did involve the obligation to impose discipline, but he did not see the need to be brutal: I later became a Prefect in Ferryhouse and one of the things I did was throw the strap in the river, in the Suir in Ferryhouse, the one I had. There is a different way. We have the feast of St. Don Bosco every year, he was a man who loved children and I read – there is a reading in the book – his instruction to his Brothers about looking after children, and I say, ‘my God, why didn’t anyone show some of our lads this piece?’.
No secondary education was available in Upton itself as there was no secondary school. However, boys who were sent forward to the Novitiate in Omeath received secondary education, as was evidenced by Fr O’Reilly. Reference was made by Fr. Christiano to three to four boys who attended Omeath returned to the School during holidays etc. They were segregated from the other boys. They slept in an old infirmary, ate in a small refectory and did odd jobs around the School.