Healing St. Anthony’s Hurts

This letter is in response to the series of online articles written recently by Paul Fericano regarding St. Anthony’s Seminary. There is an old saying that states that there are three sides to every coin. Mr. Fericano has been writing about one, but there are two more sides to the story of St. Anthony’s. As in any school, boarding or otherwise, some students enjoy it immensely, some have a few difficulties, and some experience very unfortunate circumstances. Our schools today have a great variety of problems that plague them, from teachers having sex with their students, to the horrible school shootings with which we have all become way too familiar!

Regarding St. Anthony’s: During the 91 years that St. Anthony’s was open (1896 through 1987), over 4,000 students attended it. Yes, there were about 40 students who were abused mainly by two perpetrators, and I am not trying to minimize that at all, but the Order has done everything, from monetary remunerations, to providing intensive counseling, to issuing sincere apologies for what happened during those years back then. Mr. Fericano talks about healing, but if one keeps picking at a sore, will it ever actually heal? Healing takes time, time for the injury to form a renewing bond. Let’s allow this to happen in this case, and in all such cases.

As the current director of the St. Anthony’s Seminary Alumni Association (SASAA), I urge The Santa Barbara Independent and its readers to visit and read some of the very positive experiences that a vast majority of students enjoyed, from a very good education, to a formation of character that has lasted to this present day. The “Alumni Forum” on the menu list is an example of former students sharing about those times; and our yearly reunions bring former students back together for a special time of fellowship.

Paul Fericano replies: In 1993, the Franciscan’s Independent Board of Inquiry revealed that 11 friars allegedly abused 34 seminarians. A 2008 lawsuit named 25 Franciscan offenders and reported 60 children had been abused since 1936. Victims are reluctant to come forward; my research and personal contacts during the last 20 years has been with hundreds of survivors.

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