Kearney, my old chemistry teacher at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, is, annoyingly, someone who is still very much on my mind. Even though it was a lifetime ago, the guy still haunts me. Frankly, I could do without it as I have a great and rewarding quality of life and have far better and more important things to think about than the crimes of this evil individual.
There’s a reason why Kearney is still there in the forefront of my mind. Other notorious abusive teachers at St Joseph’s– such as Brothers James, Solomon and Kevin – have been fully outed now. They’ve been rightfully named and shamed with subsequent closure.
But Mike Kearney is rather different.
Not least because he’s a complex character and it’s a necessary part of my healing to understand who he really was. I truly wish I didn’t have to, because it’s like looking into the darkness of another man’s soul. It’s taking time to gather my recollections and to fully comprehend and define the nature of his abuse. It’s sometimes quite painful, because it’s like I have to travel back in time to relive the original experiences and to make sense of them, but I’m getting there.
Sorry to be a little mysterious, but I will relate it more fully in the future.
Meanwhile, it’s relevant in the current climate to show again an earlier comment about Kearney relating to his racism.
It was originally posted in November 2016. So it’s worth noting that St Joseph’s would have been aware of his racism for over three years and have chosen to ignore it.
If they claim they weren’t aware, well, they are now.
This post refers to a period in the mid 1980s at St Joseph’s, when Kearney was, presumably, coming close to retirement. There would have been more black students in that era than in mine. I only recall one African boarder in my class. So I doubt I’d have seen Kearney’s racism in action.
|Marcus commented on ROLL OF DISHONOUR One more point – one of the teachers I just couldn’t work with was Mr Kearney – he was an aggressive South African who again picked on us non-white students more than anyone – apartheid was alive and kicking in his (and Mr Andrews) classes. He was clearly a survivor from when it was ok to be a racist bully in the classroom. An example would be when I was in the third year (year 9). I was being cautious with chemicals and test tubes. He picked up the tube and put it against my skin, which burnt my skin – he defended himself by saying that if I can put it on the table then I can put it on my skin. It was ONLY because of him I didn’t take Chemistry as an option (I did take Physics and Biology), it’s a pity as it stopped me from taking science options at university (although Computer Science was my first choice anyway).|
Given that Kearney was at St Joseph’s in the late 1950s, according to his close colleague,the paedophile Mike Mercado/Brother Solomon, it’s reasonable to assume Kearney was in South Africa in the 1940s and/or 1950s.
This was when the apartheid state of South Africa was at the height of its power.
I recall his harsh, menacing voice very well. I don’t remember his accent being particularly British, South African or Irish (the derivation of his name). He could, of course, have connections with all three countries.
But certainly Kearney had the arrogance of a believer in apartheid in the way he dealt with me. Although it was also tempered with a certain caution and wariness, too. And with good reason, I’m pleased to say. I was no easy victim, you see, although he did come perilously and scarily close to victimising me. For him, breaking my spirit was really important, and, at the time, I didn’t understand why. Teaching ‘obedience’ and ‘humility’ is imbued in Catholic culture, of course, but this was something else. Something much more.
So why did he waste his energy dealing with some annoying, Bolshie kid who isn’t going to do what he wants and– between the time I was 14 – 16 years old – had challenged him on personal matters outside the classroom and seriously pissed him off? So what? At the time, his reaction and his vengeance always seemed disproportionate to me. In retrospect, I realise I hugely underestimated him and the impact my rebellion had on him. Such is the confidence of youth.
Knowing he spent some years in racist South Africa, knowing he was a sadist (detailed in past testimonies on this site), who enjoyed inflicting pain and knowing he was later – in the 1980s – nicknamed ‘The Bear’ and its likely meaning, helps me finally start to make sense of him.
Consequently, I’ve been able to build an authentic and accurate picture of this man which is still a work in progress, because I want to get it absolutely right.
It will be my personal memorial to Mike Kearney.
My sincere thanks to Marcus above for helping me understand him.
Coming from an impoverished and vulnerable home background, and dealing with Kearney who had a measure of personal control over me, outside of the school, I have some small sense today of what it must feel like to be non-white.
To be on the receiving end of a racist’s abuse, their seething, barely suppressed anger, hate, vengeance, malice and their need to victimise and control.
I can tell you, it feels bloody terrible. It makes me feel like I’m nothing. Like I’m an object. Like I was entirely at his mercy. And he knew that and he loved it. I think he even enjoyed my spirited and angry responses, so he could retaliate and bring down his psychological equivalent of a sjambok on my back. He certainly had a few psychological weapons in his armoury.
At the time, I zoned out, I disassociated many of the feelings as a survival mechanism to get through my early teenage years. So now I’ve got to feel them to get closure. It’s not much fun, but I try to pace myself and it has to be done. And I firmly believe it’s better than prozac, alcohol or otherwise numbing the feelings. Hopefully, I won’t have to feel the whole shebang.
To reprise, Kearney is a man who is provably a violent criminal. Punching a 13 year old boy in the face (see an Old Boy’s recent past testimony) was not an isolated incident.
A man who doesn’t appear to have been a very good chemistry teacher – according to another calm, balanced and insightful recent past testimony.
A man who came from a racist country at the height of its racism, and behaved in a racist and covertly violent manner – as shown in the testimony above.
And today, the current St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, has a Memorial Chemistry prize to proudly honour this man’s memory.
Well, maybe not quite so proudly today.
They previously announced the Kearney prize regularly in their Summer newsletters, but I see the 2019 newsletter no longer makes the award information public.
Whether that’s in response to this blog I can’t say. Certainly the De La Salle Order hurriedly took down their glowing obituary to Brother James as a ‘gentle and timid man’ when various Old Boys, myself included, highlighted his psychotic rages and violent sexual assaults and rapes on schoolboys on this site.
And the Knights of St Columba, Ipswich Province, have removed their list of past Knights (which I have a copy of) from their website. Possibly because I was writing about them as their list of deceased members included paedophile Canon Burrows and Father Jolly, school chaplain at St Joseph’s, who was almost certainly a Knight. And a member of a Catholic paedophile ring.
(Sources: See my past testimonies on Burrows and Jolly. And another Old Boy’s testimony on Jolly and how he tape-recorded school boys ‘impure sins’ confessed to him in the confessional. And see my Dark Networks post for an authoritative academic study proving the existence of transgenerational Catholic paedophile rings and how they function. )
So St Joseph’s might choose to ‘update’ their prize list and remove Kearney’s name from the memorial prize on the grounds that he was a racist– even if they don’t care about his criminal violence and other matters still to come.
If numerous councils, schools, universities and other public bodies can disassociate themselves from racist characters in their pasts, and tear down their statues and remove their names, I really think St Joseph’s should follow suit. Particularly as the school must be more multi-racial today than in earlier decades.
There are other precedents. I’m told on good authority that the Joe Homan charity is likely to be renamed so its evil founder – an ex De La Salle Brother who also taught at St Joseph’s College – is no longer honoured. (See past testimonies detailing his horrific and violent sexual abuse towards children) That renaming process is currently a work in progress, but I hope it has a positive outcome. If so, that’s excellent news and I hope it helps survivors and gives them some closure on Homan’s numerous crimes.
As you can see from the above, Catholic sexual abuse was endemic at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich in the 1960s and it seems to have carried on in a similar vein in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. It was not all clerical abuse. There are several instances where lay teachers were also abusers. Hence the validity of a transgenerational organised ring as confirmed by one survivor here as well as myself and backed up by the academic study of ‘Dark Networks’ in similar Catholic schools and churches in Oz
Today’s St Joseph’s College is very different although they still proudly describe themselves as in ‘The La Sallian Tradition’ . This is an obvious insult to survivors who, as children, were brutalised and raped by De La Salle Brothers. And they still want to honour a racist teacher.
Why they should choose to hold onto these aspects of the past and maintain their provocative links, I find disturbing because it lacks any obvious motive. It’s easy enough to get rid of the association, to give some plausible ‘modernising’ excuse, so there’s no loss of face, and they can still espouse worthy Catholic values without being connected with a religious order which included numerous violent sexual predators. Any web search on the De La Salle order will show this beyond any doubt. That way they are rid of people like me reminding them with our testimonies appearing on search engines where parents can read the damning evidence.
The fact that the school haven’t fully cut the connection with their past makes me wonder if there is a hidden motive or some covert pressure on them to maintain their inappropriate links to the College’s past.
I think it’s time they entered the 21st century and did the right thing, don’t you?