Working towards healing

June 1, 2016

St Patrick’s College this week took a major step towards the creation of a permanent, visible and accessible monument to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Three past students of St Patrick’s College who are victims and survivors of abuse -“ Peter Blenkiron, Andrew Collins and Phil Nagle -“ joined a lunch meeting on Monday to discuss ideas for how the College will display the hundreds of ribbons it collected as part of the Loud Fence Campaign.

The three men were joined in the- discussion by Loud Fence campaigner Maureen Hatcher, representatives from the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, members of the Old Collegians Association, College Board members and senior College staff including Headmaster John Crowley.

The working party is committed to finding and then implementing the best idea to ensure an ongoing and accessible monument on College grounds.

Any proposed monument must preserve the ribbons already collected and provide further opportunity for more ribbons to be tied in the years to come.

The next step will involve consulting various artists and scupltors who may provide advice and ideas on how and where the final monument will be installed.

The College remains committed to updating and involving our broad community as the project develops.

The College has also recently placed a black line through the name of- paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale on the board of ordained collegians ato acknowledge- victims of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy.

A- plaque was recently installed beneath the board, which reads: “The black line above stands both as a symbol of respect to the bravery of victims and survivors, and for the College’s deep remorse for the pain and suffering caused by the actions of this individual.”

Headmaster John Crowley concealed the disgraced priest’s name last year after he attended the child abuse hearings in Ballarat.-

After listening to Ridsdale’s harrowing evidence for hours in the second week of the hearings last May, Mr Crowley said he was left horrified.-

“I was both appalled and horrified and I felt the right thing to do was to cover his name pending further investigation,” Mr Crowley said.-

“We didn’t want to erase history but by putting a black line through his name we are showing we are not proud of this individual.”

“Many of our old boys have gone on to become priests and we are very proud of those men. But in this instance his (Ridsdale’s) actions were so grievous and so damaging to victims, survivors, their families and the community we wanted to make a strong and powerful statement in support of victims.”