ST JOSEPH’S CHAPLAIN – FATHER JOLLY

Here’s an Old Boy’s vivid account of Father Jolly’s warped behaviour in the 1960s. It substantiates my own experience of him as a serious sexual abuser.  I remember being absolutely terrified by an item of erotic paraphernalia which – with a nervous giggle – he showed me at a weekend Catholic ‘retreat’, organized by the Knights. (Father Jolly is listed in their records as a Knight.) I was terrified, because he intended to use it on me.  I tried finding the device on the internet, but gave up. He was definitely getting off on my fear. That’s what abusers do. It’s part of the hit for them.  It wasn’t just two pairs of Dutch wooden clogs that he brought back from Amsterdam for my brother and I.

There must be many other survivors of his sexual abuse and I’d invite them to post on this site or elsewhere. We need to understand the full extent of organized sexual abuse at St Joseph’s. Who else was involved and when did it stop?

It is disturbing that today’s Catholics have nothing to say on these endless testimonies of clerical and lay teachers’ sexual abuse at St Joseph’s. By your silence, in my opinion, you are part of the cover-up.  

This statement is a full account of a previous entry made on Pat’s site.

I go into great detail because it may jog someone’s memory to confirm my account. I was both cursed and blessed with a photographic memory that is a great asset for examination purposes but a nightmare for the rest of your life when you simply cannot forget the things you desperately want to get out of your head.

Father Jolly

Although I was reasonably careful not to get in any trouble at St Josephs, I suppose it was inevitable. I used to put a towel at the end of my bed each morning which was a sign that I wanted to be woken at 0530 hrs to attend early morning mass at 0600 hrs. I never did attended mass, I used to run between 10 or 12 laps of the track which was situated to the left of the main building with the first 11 cricket pitch in the centre. I would go back for a shower when I saw the others boys coming out from mass.

The grounds man had asked me very nicely the day before to refraining from using the track the next day as he had cut the grass and run new white lines in preparation for a home cricket match on Saturday. He was a nice old man and I readily agreed. Through sheer force of habit I put the towel on the end of my bed that night simply because I forgot. I went running the next day and the grounds keeper came in about 0645 hrs as normal and saw me running and was rather upset and said I thought we had an understanding or words to that effect. I apologised and tried to convince him I had completely forgotten and said I was very sorry but he was obviously quite annoyed and reported the fact.

I had an exemption from Corporal Punishment because the school did not have parental consent for me. That is something all parents of every boy attending the school was obliged to sign. I went to see one of the prefects, a big Greek lad, because he had been tasked to set my punishment if ever required. He had one of those impossible to pronounce Greek names something like Popalopadopapoposis. He had tried to teach me how to pronounce his name in vain so as a mark of respect I suggested I just call him boss.

 He strongly objected to that, so we mutually agreed I could call him Popeye as long as no one was in ear shot. Well someone must had heard me talking to him one day and for the rest of him time at the school he was known as Popeye or referred to as “the sailor man”.

The first thing he said to me was do not dare to suggest that you should go on cross country run for your punishment as he knew I liked running too much. He said he would set my punishment later. He came back later in the day with a big grin on his face and said my punishment would be to sweep out the chapel from top to bottom. The chapel was a long wooden building that had most probably seen service as an army canteen during the war. It was a difficult task because it was always in use.

I did the back half on the Thursday afternoon during the PE lessons because I was excused from attending PE (anyone that knew me would know why) and the front half on the Friday because I had a study period in the Library during RI first period. And I think the second period I skipped was Spanish or something. I knew I could get away with because Friday morning lessons were always disrupted with boys coming and going from the class to go to confession.

I was quite sure Popeye had meant for me to do my punishment on Saturday afternoon and that would be a real punishment indeed because that was the only day we were allowed to go into Ipswich. Besides he did not specify the day so I thought I could apologise afterwards if need be and get away with it.

Anyway, on the Friday Father Jolly was taking confession. I worked my way up to the altar and was busy cleaning up the altar, but I just could not help overhearing Father Jolly in the confession pumping these little boys for graphic details of their sins.

 “Impure deeds what do you mean, boy? Impure deeds? You can’t lie to God, you know, if you want my absolution” and “do you mean you’ve been playing with yourself – well do you if so you must tell me” “and how many times” and “have you been playing with any other boy” and “what is this other boys name”.

 I had heard quite enough, so I went to the back of the chapel and sat down and waited for the last boy to go in. When he had come out I opened the door of the confessional just to tell Father Jolly confession was over and ask if I could continue cleaning the altar. Before I could say anything Father Jolly just said “I see you have recovered your memory then.”

Now the fact Father Jolly could recognise me without me having said a word was rather exceptional because me and the Almighty were not on speaking terms anymore and I had not been in that Chapel for more than a year. Every Sunday I used to sit in the 56 block with a couple of boys from Thailand and one Chinese boy who were Buddhists and two Protestant boys. I usually did homework or read books. One of the boys was called Tony who was studying to become a Vicar in the Protestant faith which sort of makes him stand out quite a bit in a Catholic Boarding school. Someone should remember him surely.

Anyway – I said  “Yes,Father Jolly,  would you mind if I finished clearing up the chapel ? There are no more boys waiting.” “Carry on,” he said.

I continued my cleaning and he came past me and said , “I hope you were not here during confession.” I simply could not resist the temptation and said “I’m very sorry,  Father,I can’t hear very well in that ear anymore since the incident,” and turned my head to the right and said, “OK carry on, Father.”

I was referring to a very unfortunate incidence which had happened to me a year earlier which Father Jolly was well aware of and he was visibly shaken and said in a raised voice mouthing his words “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter.”

 I just could not let that go, so I replied “A ‘Clatter’, Father? I’m very sorry, Father. I’ll try to be less noisy”.

I am quite sure he knew I was taking the micky but he hurried off to the sacristy to take off his mantle before coming out again and scurrying out of the chapel.

I always was very inquisitive and wondered how on Earth could he recognise me before I had even spoken a word. I thought I would clean the confessional booth as well, after all I had been told to clean the entire chapel so I could not really get into trouble for it. It was very dark but there was a switch on the back wall and I thought that it would give me more light to complete my task but instead it turned a small light on the penitence side of the confessional.

I could see very clearly into the penitents side.

I left the Confessors side and shut the door and went into the penitents side. You could not see anything at all through the grill. I suppose I forgot to close the penitents door when I left and when I went back to the confessors side there was plenty of light now.

I was absolutely flabbergasted to find one of those old cassette tape recorders the ones with the four or five piano keys on the front lying on the floor. It was open and the tape cassette had been removed but the machine was still very warm. I simply could not believe that a priest would record the confessions of children.

Even though I was a non-practising Catholic at that stage, I had always been taught the confessional seal was absolute and a fundamental cornerstone of the Catholic Religion and that priests were expected to die rather than ever break it. We had been given countless examples how Priests had been tortured or even burnt at the stake rather than break the confessional seal.

It was a terrible predicament I had found myself in. I had promised my sponsors, who paid all the fees for me to go to St Joseph’s, that I would never cause any trouble with the Brothers. Did this include a Priest who had violated his most sacred vow – how could he remain a Priest.

I just could not resolve this problem so I went back to the dorm and put on my running kit. And just began to run, even though I had two more periods scheduled that afternoon.

Confessions ended about midday. I did not go to the refectory for lunch that day and by the time I had completely exhausted myself running, they were serving evening cocoa in the ref, so I figure I must have run for at least 6 or maybe 7 hours. I went to bed. The next day I just could hardly walk because my legs were so sore, anyway it was liberation day – the day we were allowed to go into Ipswich.

I had been told Father Jolly was looking for me. I managed to avoid him all that day only because it was Saturday but on Sunday he confronted me after mass because he knew I would be in the 56 block with all the other heathens’ (as he liked to called the non-Catholics). He asked if I had cleaned the confession on Friday. I just said no, I’m sorry it was lunch time and I had lessons in the afternoon and asked if he would like me to do it now.

He asked me are you absolutely sure?  All I could think to say is, “No, I’m absolutely sure; I don’t mind if you want me to do it now.” The sigh of relief from that man was like hearing someone let the air out of a tyre.

I again insisted I didn’t mind really, but he said that he would do it himself and complimented me on a very nice job I had made of cleaning the chapel. Then he walked away.

I had my own personal problems to deal with. I just could not get involved. I convinced myself that as I was not a practising Catholic anymore, it was none of my business. A very logical argument I am sure, but that did not stop me feeling extremely guilty.

I knew I should have done something but who should I tell, who could I trust, who would have believed my word against a Priest anyway. I just had to let it go and get on with my life – until now that is, when a good man whom I have never met convinced me I have to tell my story for all those other poor boys whose lives were shattered and still suffer so much more than 50 years later.

Father Jolly, the confessor of St Joseph’s College, Birkfield, Ipswich, broke the most sacred seal of confession and was in no doubt, by doing so, according to Catholic doctrine, he had excommunicated himself from the Catholic Faith in the eyes of the same God that he proclaimed to worship and in whose name he assumed all his authority as a priest.

The recording of those boys confessions could be of no other use than to alert the Brother Director of the College – in case a victim of sexual abuse wanted desperately to be in a state of grace and obtain absolution and ease his tormented soul.

Most boys who were sexually assaulted were, because of their tender age, convinced by their abusers they themselves were in some way to blame for their own abuse.

This is not some questionable academic theory, it is overwhelmingly borne out by the multiple accounts of the survivors of those attacks.

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE AND BROTHER KEVIN – AGAIN!

This is another account of abuse at St Joseph’s sent to me by someone who would prefer to remain anonymous so that the survivor’s identity is protected. I’m so glad he wrote in. The more we can share our experiences, the more the truth can come out. About the true nature of so many De La Salle brothers and their College in Ipswich.

Two things I should note: Firstly it concerns Brother Kevin. Again! I think there’s about five survivors stories about Brother Kevin on my site now. I know one such survivor did take police action and another is considering it where Kevin is concerned. So it’s relevant and important to put up this post because Kevin is probably still alive, although in his mid to late 80s. It challenges the view of the lady who wrote in and said that she knew Brother Kevin and, in her opinion, he was a wonderful man, safe to leave with children, and who could not possibly do the awful things that were alleged.

Secondly, I find when I write about the past, my writing style varies considerably. Usually I write in summary when I’m posting here. When I’m exchanging email accounts with other survivors I tend to expand.  And I sometimes keep a personal journal, writing everything down, in considerable detail, so I can get in touch with the feelings and make sense of often confusing events.

It’s possible that the author has done the same thing here and also  to pay tribute to the courage of the survivor concerned. He is indeed a hero.

So here is yet another account of Brother Kevin’s abuse.

The bravest little boy I have ever known Aged only 11 1/2 years old.

He attended St Josephs College Birkfield, Ipswich and was a second former in 1965.

This little boy was born 6 weeks premature and barely survived childbirth. He was the youngest in a very large family therefore his elder sisters and brother were already married and in their 30’s. Due to his birth problems he was very small for his age and had to wear glasses with incredibly thick lenses. He could only see with his glasses on and only half the colour spectrum. Not your average superhero material for sure.

Just before Easter 1965 it was a Friday night he was fast asleep in his dormitory when he woke up and found his dorm master Brother Kevin performing oral sex on his little immature penis. He yelled and screamed at the top of his voice and Brother Kevin had to make a quick retreat to his own bedroom which was at the end of the dorm. He turned all the lights on in his dorm and Brother Kevin emerged from his bedroom and pretended that he had been asleep. It’s alright boys settle down and go to sleep this young lad is just having a nightmare.

Eventually everyone settled down the lights were turned off and they all went back to sleep thinking someone had had the most terrible nightmare – well that was true – but what happened next is beyond belief.

The following morning this little boy calmly got out of bed got dressed in his little grey suit with his tiny little grey short trousers said nothing to anyone. After breakfast without a single penny in his pocket he casually walked through the side gate on Belstead Road and walked into Ipswich Town. He walked for almost two miles to the A12 (the main London Road) and then began hitchhiking. It was not long before some kindly Lady gave him a lift to Colchester. When he asked where the London Road was she told him to get back in the car and she drove through town and dropped him off at the A12 intersection.

God alone knows how he got to London and started walking anti clockwise all along the A4 the North Circular ring road. He found the sign he was looking for the A1 / M1 motorway and followed it. You cannot hitchhike in the middle of a City so he walked for miles following the road signs. He eventually found the last sign and stopped at the beginning of the access to the main North Road. There was a big sign there prohibiting pedestrians, tractors or cycles etc. Here he found two or three students also looking for a lift North.

He was such a tiny little tyke with his enormous glasses he soon got a lift and announced he was going to Coventry. He was dropped off at a service station on the M1 and the car was about to drive off when the drivers wife made her husband stop and reversed back and they asked the little boy if he was hungry. He though they might be going to give him a sandwich instead the husband parked the car and the wife lead him into the cafe. They gave him a slap-up meal and a cup of tea and were so impressed that he eat everything on his plate and politely thanked them for it they bought him a desert and a second cup of tea.

It was early evening and it was beginning to get dark. The wife took him to the second exit of the service station which was reserved for heavy good vehicles and asked two or three drivers if they were going to Coventry. Eventually a man said yes I can drop him off for you.

Having just eaten and walked god knows how many miles that day the little boy soon fell asleep. The driver woke him up a couple of hours later and asked if he would like some of the coffee from his thermos flask. He said here we are young sir this is Coventry. The little boy thanked him very politely and was helped down just outside Pool Meadow the main bus terminal. It was 8 or 9 o clock at night now.

The little boy walked around the bus station and asked where the busses for Kenilworth departed from. A kindly bus inspector told him the last bus had gone. He had intended to say he had lost his money but could supply his address. (Coventry bus drivers and conductors had been instructed never to refuse to pick up a child for any reason) so he asked the inspector where is the Kenilworth Road I can find my way from there.

Well the roads in Coventry are a bit like a bowl of spaghetti. With loads of flyovers and underpasses. The little boy soon got lost and sat down on a bench and began crying with frustration he had got so far he was almost there but now he was lost and bewildered. For Coventry 1960’s think of Glasgow 1960’s not a nice place to be in after dark. Eventually a Taxi driver stopped and said what’s up little man are you lost. The boy said yes sir I am, I am trying to get to the Kenilworth Road. Why do want to go there the taxi driver asked because I need to get to Kenilworth Sir the little boy replied thinking the question rather silly. Jump in the cab and I take you to the Kenilworth Road. But sir I don’t have any money. No worries said the man it’s not far. The taxi driver took him all the way to Kenilworth and asked him where about’s he wanted to go. The little boy repeated the address including the post code like a robot the Taxi driver said don’t you know where that is. No sir replied the little boy I never been here before but I always write to my sister every week so I know the address.

The taxi driver took out his A-Z (they didn’t have sat-navs. back in those days) and found where it was and took him the house. The taxi driver said I’m going to wait here until someone answers. If no one answers the door come back to the car I will take you home and my wife will make you a bed up on the sofa. The little boy rang the doorbell and waited – nothing – after two or three attempts a light came on upstairs. A huge ex Navy man came down in his dressing gown and opened the door. The little boy grabbed hold of him for dear life sobbing his eyes out. Right stop all those tears and come inside said the man who made John Wayne look like a dwarf. He was just about to go inside when he remembered something very important Wait Wait he shouted. He ran across the lawn to the Taxi driver and said thank you so much sir you have been so wonderfully kind if you give me your name and address I will send you my pocket money to pay you what I owe you. The taxi driver said hurry along now someone is waiting for you.

Everyone was in tears when he told his story even the big “I never cry” – me.

Several weeks later I asked why on Earth did he go to London instead of the much shorter route cross country via St Neots. He said just a minute he disappeared into his bedroom and came back with one of those small pocket books. He showed me a miniature map of Great Britain’s road network that only showed the main roads and said “this is all I had to go on.”

This story is absolutely true without any embellishment whatsoever and is burned deep in my memory forever and still makes me cry with pride over 55 years later.

I am still to this day amassed that this tiny shy little boy by far the smallest in his class partially sighted and not a penny in his pocket would undertake such an incredible 240 mile journey into the complete unknown to reach a place of safety trusting in the absolute goodness of strangers rather than stay one more night in his dorm at St Joseph’s College.