Future of Catholic boarding schools threatened

The future of the Catholic boarding school sector faces a serious threat in a changed Ireland, following the closure of Cistercian College Roscrea, which has been described as “a very sad death knell”.

The announcement of the closure of the college, at Mount St Joseph Abbey in Co. Offaly, means there are now just two Catholic schools offering all boarding for boys in Ireland. These are the Jesuit Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare and the Benedictine Glenstal Abbey in Murroe, Co. Limerick.

Two other Catholic schools, Dublin’s Blackrock College and Rockwell College in Co. Tipperary, mix boarders with day pupils.

This is in stark contrast to the 1990s when there were over 30 Catholic schools offering boarding for boys – 20 being diocesan colleges.

Dom Richard Purcell, Abbot of Mount St Joseph Abbey said the decision to close was “extremely difficult” but the school “is simply no longer financially viable”. “The school has witnessed a 45% drop in enrolment in the past 10 years with just nine 1st Year students enrolled for September 2017. Clearly this is unsustainable.”

The Irish Catholic

Parents told to examine options for Cistercian College Roscrea

Suggestions to save school include five-day boarding, day pupils and admission of girls

Parents of students at Cistercian College Roscrea have been asked to come up with “options” to keep the Co Offaly boarding school open.

The Abbot of Mount St Joseph Abbey, home to the 167-pupil college, has agreed to give full consideration to any viable proposal which parents can come up with regarding the future of the school.

The news came after a meeting on Tuesday between the abbot, Dom Richard Purcell, and representatives of the Cistercian College Parents’ Association.

The meeting follows last Friday’s announcement by the trustees of the college that declining pupil numbers had made the institution’s financial position unsustainable and that the college would close within the next two years.

The Irish Times

Molestation allegations rock prestigious boarding school

MILTON, Mass. — A prestigious boarding and day school near Boston says four former workers engaged in sexual misconduct with several students decades ago.

Milton Academy sent a letter to the school community Tuesday saying an independent investigation determined former theater program head Rey Buono and three other unidentified male workers molested several students.

Buono worked at Milton from 1973 to 1987. He was fired after admitting he molested a student.

The investigation determined Buono abused at least a dozen male students, all minors, and that former headmaster Jerome Pieh had some knowledge of Buono’s misconduct in 1982.

The school says reports have been filed with the appropriate officials and law enforcement agencies.

School officials apologized, saying previous leaders failed to protect their students.

New York Post

Former boarder sues boarding school following sex probe

PHILADELPHIA — An alumna sued a Pennsylvania boarding school Friday, weeks after a grand jury report detailed a half-century of sexual abuse there, accusing the school of ignoring warnings the athletic director was sexually involved with her.

The “Jane Doe” accuser said Solebury School’s permissive atmosphere enabled staff to prey on vulnerable teens. The woman, now 29, said that athletic director Lyle Hazel started grooming her in 10th grade and started a sexual relationship in 12th grade that continued for years and left her unable to finish college.

Indiana Gazette

Denial won’t save Irish boarding school from closure.

Boarding schools are not “families” or “communities”. They are institutions. And now the school blaming starts. The closure communications (as reported) were crystal clear…

“Parents opposed to the closure of Cistercian College in Roscrea will meet to explore avenues which could be taken to keep the famous boarding school open.

“Heartbreak” was the reaction, said the parents’ association, when the news broke on Friday that the Cistercian order had decided to close the school because of falling student numbers. There are currently 167 pupils according to the school, which is located at Mount St Joseph Abbey in Co Offaly.

Association chairperson Sinead Lawlor said relations and communications between the Cistercians, including Abbot of Mount St Joseph Richard Purcell, have always been good.

But she said that in this instance, there has been “an unfortunate gap in that communication“.

Many parents didn’t find out about the decision until they went to collect their boys on Friday, she said.

“CCR is another family for them (the pupils). The teachers and support staff are all family to them and treated them as their own kids. The boys are like brothers to each other. It’s very, very understandable that this comes as a massive shock,” she said.”

Irish Independent

Irish boarding school to close due to fall in numbers

One of Ireland’s best known boarding schools, Cistercian College Roscrea, is set to close after 112 years due to a significant fall off in student numbers.

The Co Offaly boys’ boarding school, located at Mount St Joseph Abbey, said there had been “a general decline in demand for boarding facilities”.

The school said there had been a 45 per cent drop in enrolment in the past decade with just nine first-year students enrolled for September of this year.

“Clearly this is unsustainable and the school is simply no longer financially viable. We were sadly left with no option but to conduct what we anticipate will be a phased closure of the school over the next 16 months,” said Abbot of Mount St Joseph Abbey Richard Purcell.

The Irish Times

Notorious paedophile Brian Joseph Spillane sentenced for 16 child sex offences

Serial paedophile and former priest Brian Joseph Spillane​ has been sentenced to another 13 years in jail for abusing young boys, many of whom were homesick and turned to him for help, at a private Catholic boarding school.

Spillane, 74, kept his back turned to his victims and their families as the sentence was handed down in a packed court room in the Downing Centre District Court on Thursday.

The former teacher, chaplain and head of discipline at St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst, in central west NSW preyed on young boys who came from strictly Catholic families who revered priests.

Spillane used religious rituals, purporting to perform exorcisms, prayers and to speak in tongues, as a ruse to sexually abuse the boys.

After two trials last year, Spillane was found guilty of a total of 16 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and buggery, relating to attacks on several boys between 1974 and 1990.

The boys were aged between 12 and 15 and were either boarders or day students at the school.

“He knew that most of these complainants were desperately homesick and offered them comfort only to sexually abuse them,” Judge Robyn Tupman said.

“He knew he could act with impunity and with almost no chance that his behaviour would be revealed.”

The Border Mail (Australia)

Catholic Church paid A$276m to abuse victims in Australia

The Australian Catholic Church has paid A$276m (£171m; $213m) to victims of sexual abuse since 1980, an inquiry has heard.

The money was divided between thousands of victims, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was told.

The data, released on Thursday, showed the average payment was A$91,000.

The landmark royal commission was set up in 2013 and is also investigating abuse at non-religious organisations.

The Catholic Church made the payments in response to 3,066 of 4,445 child sexual abuse claims between 1980 and 2015, the inquiry heard. More than 40% of claims were received by a handful of male orders.

They included compensation, treatment, legal and other costs, said Gail Furness, the lead lawyer assisting the commission in Sydney.

BBC News