Hi, my fraternal brothers. Reprinted on 31 Dec. 2014
A Catholic boy saved through the intercession of a Catholic priest.
I had written this in a response to a question from a fraternal brother of mine here in MS.
I have omitted his name & made a few corrections to some words.
This in answer to your question, how did I get into that orphanage/Home.
As that young gay boy living in the projects it seemed like every one in my stairwell knew about my physical, mental & emotional abuse. Certainly they heard my screams of pain & terror plus my “mom” screaming, berating & beating me. But in those days no one could or would do anything about it. It was like mind your own business or else.
My boyhood friends parents knew all about it, and they showed me their love & caring as long as I was in their presence.
There was a neighbor in our stairwell & her son and I spent some time with each other, but unlike my three other very close friends he was limited on what he could so. You see he had Polio and spent a lot of time in an iron lung. He was about the same age as us, but was much smaller & skinnier most likely from the Polio. Eventually he would be taken off that iron lung machine & had to get along by wearing leg braces. If you have seen the movie Forest Gump then you have an idea of what he was going through.
His mom was a very devout Catholic as was the rest of her family. Her husband had passed away & she was there with six kids to raise. Even with all the things she had to do in taking care of those kids, she still had time for God, every day at Mass. She was the lady whom took it upon herself in serving God washed & ironed the altar linens on both floors. The lower level of the church was for daily Mass, confessions, etc. Where as the upper level was for all Sunday Masses, weddings, funerals & special feast days in the church calendar.
There is no doubt in my mind that through their intercession my life was spared, as the older I got the more severe the beatings became. But by the Grace of God none of those knives thrown at me in her fits of rage ever hit her intended target.
One day in the summer of 1949 she had her full of hearing my screams & crying in terror, and decided she had to do something on this boys behalf before something real serious physically happens to him, she knew about those knives being thrown at me and the time had come to act.
She went over to the church rectory & talked to Father Bear about me & my situation. Fr. Bear knew me by sight as I spent a bit of extra time in the church, plus he had seen us boys on the street as the church & school were just across the street. In those days the parish priest would visit everyone who was Catholic in the projects sort of a social thing. But he never came to our apartment because my “mom” was divorced & as such was excommunicated from the church. I guess her Catholic kids didn’t count as a reason for a visit.
She & him decided that it was time for someone to act on my behalf from the constant abuse that they all knew about & heard about. They came over to my apartment & were going to have a private talk with my “mom.” I was told to go out & play. When they left Fr. Bear came over to me and told me that he had found a home for me where I would be safe, loved & cared for and in a day or so he, my “mom” & I would be taking a ride in the evening to a place called The Working Boys’ Home/orphanage, also known as St. John’s Industrial School, administered by an order of men called the Xaverian Brothers, in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. A few days later in the evening on an August day my fate would be sealed one way or the other. Like I’ve mentioned it was at night & we drove well out of the city limits, like we were in the country. Few houses around and we go up a long driveway & this huge building appears we pull up to an imposing archway staircase, my God I was scared what was I getting myself into. We go up & ring the door bell & the Brother superior answers it & welcomes us in. The entrance hall was huge & there was two staircases leading up to the next floor & beyond.
The place was dimly lit & for this scared young boy it was overwhelming to say the least.
I was lead to a side room while the Brother superior, Fr. Bear & my ‘mom” were led away as the fate of this young boys life was being decided. I’m sitting in this dimly lit room with a high ceiling & a huge painting of the Virgin Mary ( my heavenly Mother) Catholic beliefs, hanging on the wall, no matter which way I was pacing the floor it seemed like Her eyes were following me. Like I said I was scared all alone in that dimly lit room wondering what’s going to happen to me. I had to pee real bad & being scared on top of that and not daring to leave that room and look for a bathroom I peed my pants. Ten years old & I pee my pants. About an hour or so the door opens & it’s Brother superior standing there all alone, it was just him & me. He comes over and hugs me & welcomes me home & into my new family. He had seen that I peed my pants and I was expecting to be beaten over it. Instead he told me Peter go downstairs & a Brother Kostka will be waiting for you & he will give you some clean clothes & pajama’s when he’s finished with you come back upstairs & I’ll show you where you will be sleeping & get your bed. I, go up to him & we climb that huge staircase all the way up to the attic and that’s where the upper dormitory was located. There was another Brother there waiting for me, he was old & had a funny foreign accent like German. He welcomes me quietly shows me where my bed is for the next two years. He tells me he’ll be waking me and the other boys up in the early morning. As soon as we get washed & dressed & just before daily Mass he’ll introduce me to my other brothers & explain the rules of the dormitory. A bit later after breakfast I will get the grand tour of my new home & family.
In a few days the school year will start and there were still a few boys whom haven’t reported back in yet from the summer break. The official start of the school year in Boston was the first day after Labor day.
So on an late August summer evening in 1949 at a place called
The Working Boys’ orphanage/Home, in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, By a religious order of men named the Xaverian Brothers. A boy named Peter, had finally found safety, a family, love & caring, being wanted & appreciated., and receive an education second to none.
Those four years will change his life forever. It is there where I consider that my life had begun. I owe them & the Catholic church a huge debit of gratitude.
It would be there for the first time in my young life I would find what sweet, clean, pure, innocent & unconditional love was all about. Between a gay boy named Peter & a gay boy named Shannon, in a Catholic orphanage/Home for the next four years. We both were between 10-14 years old. The best four years in my 17 years on earth.
But, once that I had to leave the safety of those premises either for a weekend or for the summer break I was fresh meat all over again.
I was a resident there from 1949-1953.
My nickname there was Eaglebeak.
So,there you have it. A great memory & story, something I have never forgotten about.
Wishing my fraternal brothers a great day in life & healing.
Love & blessings, to all
Edited by petercorbett (12/31/14 10:00 AM)
Working Boys' Home 10-14 yrs old, grades 5-8. 1949-1953
A very humble alumni of the WOR Dahlonega, GA.
May 15-17 2009, Alta, Sep. 2009. Sequoia, 2010.
Hope Springs, 2010.