“Spotlight”, The Movie & Priests That Abuse

I recently watched the movie, “Spotlight.” The movie revealed the many years during which priests sexually abused children in Boston. Today, NPR announced that there was a list showing which priests in Seattle, Washington had abused children.

I was raised a Catholic and attended sixteen years of Catholic education. I went to St. Thomas More, and  St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon and Fort Wright College of the Holy Names in Spokane, Washington.

I Googled a list of priests who had taught in Portland, Oregon. I was shocked to find Father Martin Thielen  who was at St. Thomas More from 1964-1983 on the list. He was there while I attended that school. My brothers, Timothy and Michael served as altar boys to Father Thielen during that time. He was later accused of molesting boys.

Father Gary Jacobson was also on the list. Father Jacobson was my father’s third wife’s brother. He was accused of molesting girls. He was at St. Thomas More from 1967-1968.

When I was a young girl, I had a sense that Father Thielen was not to be trusted. I don’t know where that came from, but I was on guard around him. When I met Father Jacobson in college, I felt the same way about him, that he also was not to be trusted.

I can’t understand how my father and his wife continued to have Father Jacobson in their home. They obviously knew what was going on with him. They continued to keep the secret about him from the rest of our family. My child was at events where he was also invited. By being silent, they condoned what he was doing.

My brother later committed suicide. He had issues around sexuality, and I wonder if any of his torments were because of these priests.

As young children, you were taught that the priests should be revered, that they were like God. Parents would never say anything against the priests. Furthermore, that generation of parents believed that children should be seen, but never heard. The idea of a young person speaking up  would be disrespectful and disregarded.

Silencing children kept us in our place. We didn’t have any directions on how to let people know we were being abused. This is a crime and the priests should be prosecuted no matter how long ago their offenses occurred.

Susan M. Carr, author of “The Ballad of Desiree”