At age 12 I was molested by a Catholic priest. He was the chaplain at the local Catholic hospital. I was one of his altar boys. The mass was at 6 AM. He asked my parents if I could stay at his house the nights before. I do not recall being present during this conversation. I can only guess why they agreed.
Dad was a lifelong Catholic and a high-functioning alcoholic. Mom was a Jew and converted to Catholicism when I was four. My dad, being a butcher, voluntarily cut meat for the hospital. He was active in the Legion of Mary and knew all the nuns. I’m sure they considered it a great honor for me to serve the chaplain in their services.
There is only one snippet of one scene that I remember about the abuse. I’m grateful it isn’t more. I have no recollection of how it started, how I was groomed, or how long it lasted. I do know he stole my innocence, trust, and any positive feelings I had toward the Catholic church or authority figures.
At fifteen I was a convicted felon, outcast, liar, thief, and sexually promiscuous. In the 1950s there were no school counselors. I thought he was a queer, and I was afraid I was one. I was strongly attracted to girls, but I also had a couple of experiments with boys. It was not until my 50s that I understood he was a pedophile.
I started stealing shortly after I was molested. I stole a gold watch from the priest. He confronted me by driving to the police station. He told me if I did not give him back his watch, he would have me arrested and thrown in jail. I should have told him to do it and I would tell the police what he had done to me.
I was so intimidated I returned his watch. After that, when I was an altar boy for the parish priest, I stole money from the collections. I graduated to breaking and entering and car theft. I was arrested, spent some time in jail, was convicted, and placed on three and a half years’ probation. I was plastered all over the front page of the local newspaper during the summer between my ninth and tenth grades. I remember how strange and out of place I felt the first day of school of my sophomore year.
Dad told me after high school I had to go to college, work full time, or join the service, but I could not stay at home and create problems. I immediately enlisted in the navy. God placed a bookkeeping teacher in my path in my senior year. On the last day of school, she tells me all the other teachers had signed off on my diploma, but she would not unless I made up all the back assignments and tests for the days I cut classes. I was mortified. She required I come to her classroom for five days to do my work. Halfway during that week, red-faced and angry, she stomped on the floor while telling me I would never be a bookkeeper. I did what she required and graduated high school with a D-.
In navy boot camp I scored exceptionally high on all the tests. I was placed in leadership and had four very successful years in the navy. I am a Vietnam veteran with VA benefits. I have been in leadership and an entrepreneur since. Just one of many ways God has blessed me.
Thirty-five years later, I sat beside this teacher at a friend’s funeral. I confirmed that she was her. I asked if she remembered the day she stomped on the floor. She said no. I was surprised. She asked me why it was so important to me. I told her I did become a bookkeeper, an office manager, a business manager, an accountant, a financial planner, registered investment advisor, and told her I thought it was all her fault. We both laughed and cried. I wrote a short story after her death and ended it by saying, “in a split second of time she didn’t know she was changing me, and I didn’t know I was being changed.”
At age 28, a Baptist minister introduced me to Jesus Christ. My life story is written in my book Thoughts for Deep Thinkers and Fellow Space Travelers available on Amazon.com. It has not been pretty. I ended up homeless at age 56, but God has blessed me greatly after taking me through that valley. This may sound strange, but I would not want anything in my life changed. I like where I am, and I don’t believe I would be here if anything were different.
Tom Blubaugh is an author and Readership Building Coach. He is the CEO of Christian Authors Community & Services, a safe online community for Christian authors and writers—AuthorsCommunity.net. Tom has been writing since age fourteen. He has been a freelance writer for business and denominational magazines, a fiction and non-fiction author/co-author of six books and a contributor to many more. Tom is developing a ministry for the abused and addicted at GenesisProject.biz. He has recently started an organization named 2414, based on Matt. 24:14, for those called to preach who can no longer fill a church pulpit due to disability, health, or age. He is teaching them how to use social media and the Internet to spread the Gospel to the world. Tom is the husband of Barbara. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren.