Protecting the vulnerable is hard and sometimes depressing work. So we all need to remind ourselves of the ‘success stories.’ Here’s one:
Now, Mark lives in a nice condo overlooking a bridge in south Florida. Years ago, often homeless, he lived underneath that same bridge, as a confused, hurting, scared and homeless teen. Two priests assaulted him as a child. But about ten years ago, Mark began to face his demons. He contacted a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. They offered him comfort and consolation and assured him he wasn’t alone.
Then, they did a news conference. Together, they insisted that Joliet Illinois Bishop Joseph Imesch suspend the predators from their parishes. Both Fr. Lee Ryan and Fr. Kevin McBrien were exposed and ousted.
And now, kids are safer – because of Mark’s courage and our work. But the progress doesn’t stop there.
Mark entered therapy. Eventually, he began reuniting with estranged family members. He’s in a committed relationship now. And he’s a much happier person.
Later, Mark later filed a civil lawsuit to help expose the church officials who hid these crimes and to make sure that neither of the clerics who molested him will be put back around children. And that suit settled.
Still, Mark’s path was very tough. But we should all remind ourselves that progress and protection and healing and justice CAN happen, once victims take the initiative to reach out for help.