Friday, May 22, 2009

Reflections of 1964 High School Graduate from Home of Good Shepherd, St. Paul, Minnesota




Are any of you out there?

Has anyone read about Ireland's Commission to Inquire into Chiuld Abuse? Or any of the other studies of late which reveal how the nuns at the Homes of the Good Shepherd treated girls sent there? The study of more than 200 Catholic run 'schools' between 1930 to the 1990's, includiing testimony of nearly 2,000 witnesses. This report just recently made public, confirms thhe Catholic /church sponsored scores of reformatories and industrial schools where more than 30,000 girls deemed delinquent or incorrigible were sent from the 1930's until the close of the 20th century. Most were child labor and forced to work in the Home's commecial laundries. None received monetary compensation.


Would like to hear from my classmates or others who were in the Home of Good Shepherd - St. Paul, Minnesota between September 1962 to October 1964.


Copy of the 1964 Senior Class Yearbook. Will have it copied then return it.

Names and Senior Class Photos of my 12 classmates. Unable to recall all but 1.


13 Girls.


Mount Saint Mary's.


Home of Good Shepherd


931 Blair

St. Paul, Minnesota

Zip Code ? Poof. Gone with 11 names/faces/memories of my classmates.


Prison run by Catholic Nuns housing juvenile delinquent girls, supervision of child labor in their commercial laundry


Were any of the girls actually convicted of crimes i.e. felonies? I seriously haven't a clue. I wasn't. Never arrested or in trouble of any kind.


Every memory is branded onto my very soul. I can't rid myself of even the harmless, more benign memories. They come hand and hand with the horrors which return every now and again - triggered by some of the silliest things. I continue to shove everything back deep down inside me and go on with life. It's the visuals within dreams which continue to return that no amount of therapy has been able to destroy. Those are the most painful and no matter how much I push them away and try to forget - they relentlessly pursue me - eventually returning full force.

I think if I could find my juvenile files someplace within the Justice System of Minnesota - if I could just find out what the reasons were behind sending me to a place that kept me locked away until I was 18, perhaps it would settle my mind. I'd like to find out why I was sent to the Home of Good Shepherd, why my questions were ignored, why I sensed the nuns were afraid or repulsed by my presence ( but I've pretty much guessed that one), then perhaps I could rid myself of that horrid place once and for all.

There's one thing I know for sure: the Good Shepherd nuns got their pound of flesh out of me - for 2+ years they worked my butt off as free child labor with the pretense of providing the remainder of my High School education. That's one of the more pitiful aspects of my time spent locked away. There were a couply of pretty savy women (nuns) that I remember holding administrative positions. Were they blind? Didn't the classes they approved have to meet a basic set of High School requirments set by the State's Department of Education? The Home of Good Spherd may have betowed upon me a High School Diploma with the name of Mount St. Mary's on its blue velvet cover but upon my release, I left with no more than the general knowledge approved by the State of Minnesota for High School Freshman and Sophmore's. I was not afforded the opportunity to attend Junior and Senior level High School classes equal to those out in the 'real world'.


The second day into my Junior year at Bloomington High School, I arrived home school to find 2 Bloomington Policemen and a very elderly lady from the 'Catholic Welfare Department' waiting for me - her name was Miss Tchida - unclear on spelling - pronounced 'chee-ta'. My mother already had my things packed and ready. I was handcuffed, put into a squad car and driven to the Home of Good Shepherd in St. Paul with Miss Tchida following.

Never once would anyone give me a straight answer to my many questions. The nuns treated me with disdain as though I had a the plague. It appeared to me other girls were not treated as rudely nor spoken to in a similar manner as I was. Hindsite: I think the way I was treated centered around the fact I was a child of 'Lesbians'. Especially considering the type of questions I regularly was asked. It was though some of the nuns couldn't stand even being near me.


My home life was a living hell. No family unit. Only my Mother, Godmother and me. Both women were alcoholics yet functional enough to have professional nursing careers at 2 different Catholic Hospitals. I can't recall one day during my childhood where they remained sober. Being obvious lesbians and rearing a child was unheard of at the time. My mother was brutal when drunk. Regularly beaten black and blue on a weekly basis, I would escape when I could, running about 3 miles to the Blooming Police Department. I never went inside asking for help. Instead, I'd sit on the front steps for hours. Sometimes through the nights, until the next morning. Another curiosity: not once did the Policemen who must have passed me on those steps hundreds of times over the years, ever stop to speak to me or ask why I was sitting there. Today, I find that simply amazing.


I've not gone into any details. Prefer to see if any of my classmates are out there and willing to respond.