“The Painted Preying Liturgist”

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The Painted Preying Liturgist: A Personal Note

The Orator

April-December 1999

Sylvia MacEachern

The following article is not pleasant reading. The information was acquired through, what is without a doubt, one of the most difficult series of interviews I have ever conducted. It is almost impossible for me to relate the pain and anguish that I heard and felt when talking to those who had been sexually molested by Father Barry Glendinning twenty-five long years ago. The fact that these are victims of Father Glendinning is coincidental. They could be victims of just about any predatory clerical molester. With slight variations, their stories and the aftermath are all so alike.

I’ve never before talked to victims of clerical molestation specifically about what happened to them when they were molested. I didn’t have to. I’ve sat in court rooms and listened. It never changes. I just never cease to be horrified, disgusted and revolted by what I hear. Nor do I cease to be overwhelmed by the pain I hear as the victims testify .. . nor by the stories of broken lives . . . .nor by the shame. Yes. Shame. Even after all those years these men are still ashamed and embarrassed to talk about what happened to them.

Each account is as horrific as the other. The trials and tribulations of each and every victim is as heart-rending as that of every other. There’s no getting used to it.

I forget that the average Catholic has probably never sat in on one of these trials, nor do they have any idea what happens when we say a child is sexually molested. Some Catholics, I realize, for whatever reason, don’t want to know and are content to believe that such perversion is a figment of the imagination. That is truly unfortunate. It ensures that the molesters can carry on. But the following article has been written for those who don’t know and, who, once they know , will act to bring the horror to an end.

Go to court. Sit through a few cases. Find out what happens. Talk to the victims. Ask them what happened. Read transcripts of court cases. Read books and articles. You’ll start to understand.

Some people wonder why it takes some victims so long to report the abuse and suggest it should be left alone. They don’t understand. They don’t understand that something in these young boys becomes so seriously damaged that it’s almost as though their souls have been raped. I can find no other words to describe what I see and hear. If only people would understand. These children’s bodies and souls have been violated. Their childhood innocence has been destroyed. Because the perpetrators are clergy, the children’s faith in the Church and in all members of the clergy is usually shattered. It takes years for many victims to deal with it.

I personally have observed that, in instances where a priest “grooms” his prey and the molestations are on-going, the victims are still struggling years later to come to terms with the abuse which has often become inseparable from the accompanying perks, be it cigarettes, alcohol, money, vacations or pizza or whatever is enticing to a child or young teenager.

Afterwards, the victims may be angry at their molester, but the anger is frequently mixed with inexplicable feelings of affection. Often they still see their molester through the eyes of the child who was too young, immature, vulnerable and trusting to understand why it is so terribly perverted and wrong for a priest to seduce a child into any kind of sexual activity, never mind homosexual perversion.

Frequently the victims feel guilty, a guilt which is often compounded by their recollection that, as a child, some of the perverted touching actually felt good. They just don’t understand that those feelings do not constitute consent, nor that they should never be aroused in any child, by anyone, least of all a priest.

The pain, shame and guilt the victims feel as they mature is so deep. Often it just doesn’t go away. It haunts them, their lives and all of their relationships.

The aftermath for most victims is almost stereotypical. Whether or not the abuse was “violent,” most become difficult teenagers, reject the Church, become angry, turn to alcohol and drugs and have difficulty forming “long-term relationships.” Many are confused about their sexual identity. They think that if they were involved in same-sex sexual activity, that means they must be “homosexual.” Some try living the life. Some try it once or twice. Others wonder. The confusion often lingers. Most are embarrassed and reluctant to talk about this dimension of the aftermath.

True, as you will read, in the case of Father Barry Glendinning, there was one young girl involved. Strange. Back when it all happened, some of the boys knew that Father Glendinning didn’t really “like” girls. But Jane was included and, unfortunately for her and her brothers, she became part of many of the macabre rituals.

It is not just the children who are victimized by this horrific crime. Whole families are affected and suffer — emotionally and spiritually — when a child is sexually violated by a member of the clergy. And, while it is difficult to state with certitude that each molested child’s life becomes a nightmare solely because of the molestation, it is a recognized fact that most victims try to drown the pain in a frenzy of drug and alcohol abuse. Regardless, it can be said with certitude that no child becomes a better person for having been sexually molested as a child.

It’s hard to know how it can all end for those who have already been molested. We should regularly remember them in our prayers. We should try to support them to counter the disdain and ridicule which they so often endure. And we should hope and pray that in time they will see a priesthood which has been purged of clergy given to any manner of sexual perversion. Perhaps then those priests who have succumbed to sexual perversion, and thereby so sullied the sacred priesthood, can dedicate themselves — as laymen — to living lives of purity. And perhaps then, by the grace of God, those who have fallen prey to predatory priests will return to receive the Sacraments and the graces they so desperately need to heal their troubled souls. W

  Letter of St. Peter Damien (1007-1072) to Pope St. Leo IX

  The befouling cancer of sodomy is, in fact, spreading so through the clergy or rather, like a savage beast, is raging with such shameless abandon through the flock of Christ, that for many it would be more salutary to be burdened with the service in the world than, under the pretext of religion, to be enslaved so easily under the iron rule of satanic tyranny. It would be better for them to perish alone as laymen than, after having changed their attire but not their disposition, to drag others with them to destruction, as Truth itself testifies when It says, “But if anyone is a cause of stumbling to one of these little ones, it would be better for him to be drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck..”


  The Painted Preying Liturgist

In 1974, Father Barry Glendinning, a liturgist, was charged with gross indecency involving five boys and one girl. He was found guilty. Later he sexually molested a number of young boys in the Edmonton Archdiocese. No charges were laid.

The following account of that horrific saga was compiled following a series of interviews. In the process, four victims from two families in London, Ontario were interviewed. In the “Smithson” family, two boys and one girl were molested by Father Glendinning. In the “Mitchellery” family, four boys were molested.

Each account is identified and presented according to information drawn from the personal recollections of the victim.

Because one sibling in each family does not want to be identified, all names have been changed to ensure anonymity for those who desire it. At her request, the name of an older sister of the Smithson victims, Frances, has been retained. However, her married name has been withheld.

By: Sylvia MacEachern

The date: sometime between the late 60s and early 70s.

The Location: the diocese of London, Ontario.

The Local Ordinary: Bishop Gerald Emmett Carter (appointed 1964)

The crime scenes: an apartment in St. Peter’s Seminary, a cottage and several parks.

Jane Smithson

Crying and scared the naked little girl tries to flee. There is nowhere to go.

. . . . CRASH!

A lamp topples to the floor.

The door swings opens. A male figure stands framed in the doorway. He surveys the scene: one naked priest/liturgist; one naked little girl; two naked little boys. The figure departs.

Perhaps immediately after this incident the priest forces one tearful boy to have sex with his sobbing little sister. She distinctly recalls that that was why she was trying to get away from Father Glendinning that day. Father was forcing her brother, Gary, to do the deed. Her brother didn’t want to do it. Jane didn’t want it to happen. She was trying to escape.

If it didn’t happen that day, it happened other days. She vividly recalls Father Glendinning twisting Gary’s arm and forcing her brother on top of her. She remembers her brother’s tears. She recalls that he “cried, really cried.” She remembers her own tears.

Jane also recalls seeing her six year-old baby brother coming from the priest’s room. The little boy was struggling to pull up his pants. He was in tears.

She remembers painting the priest with the brightly-coloured neon paint. Sometimes all three of the children painted the naked liturgist together. Often it was her task. The location varied. It might happen during a visit to the seminary: Perhaps after Father proudly showed the children the big room with all the desks where, he said, he taught young men how to be priests. It often happened during their many camping trips.

When they went camping, Jane recalls how Father would set up cans for  target practise, arm the boys, her brothers, with the “skinny rifles,” and that was her cue. It was time. Away they went. The liturgist and the little girl. Into the tent.

The liturgist would provide her with the liquid paints. She was to paint his naked body.

No paintbrush.

This was a job to be done by hand.

Time to strip. . ..

It was almost like a ritual. The little girl knew what had to be done. On cue, she would strip off her clothes. The priest would remove his. The painting began.

She would immerse her tiny hands in the paint. Then she would go to work. A picture of the finished product was a must. Out came the polaroid camera. Often it was her brother who took the pictures.

She recalls her childish anticipation and wonderment — waiting for the picture to emerge. There they were, the tiny girl standing alongside her handiwork, the naked painted liturgist.

It wasn’t always neon paint. Sometimes it was Baby Oil. Baby Oil or neon paints, Jane still recalls the sock. She remembers that Father Glendinning wore a sock over his penis. To this day she hates socks.

Gary Smithson

Gary Smithson remembers Father Glendinning coming to his house with bags of groceries. He recalls the time his mother, Father Glendinning and he were in the living room. He was sitting beside Father. Father had his hand down the back of Gary’s pants. His mother didn’t seem to notice. Lots of time Father would sit him on his knee.

He remembers the camping trips, and going to the cottage.

He remembers going to St. Peter’s Seminary. Lots of times he’d be the only one to go. He and Father would go in the side door. Sometimes Father would have a seminar to do and he’d leave Gary in the apartment.

Sometimes there’d be five children together in Father’s room. He remembers the pictures. Lots of polaroid pictures. And the body painting. Mostly the children painting the naked priest. But sometimes the naked priest painted the children. 

Gary remembers the time Father Glendinning let him fire a .22 out the window. He knows it was a .22 because Father told him that’s what it was.

He remembers the priest forcing him to get on top of his sister. Father Glendinning told him what to do and how to do it. Father would stand and watch. Father would masturbate while he watched. Father took pictures.

David Mitchellery

  David Mitchellery was ten years old when it all began.

David was ten. One of his little brothers was nine. Another was eight. Another was six years old.

David met Father Barry Glendinning at a Church camp.

He liked Father Barry Glendinning. Father was “personable” and “worldly.” Father had lots of money. He was generous. He bought David pizza. He even let David drive his car. Sure, sometimes the priest fondled him while he was driving the car, but, so what? It wasn’t really unpleasant, and, besides, he just had pizza and he was driving a car. What the heck.

They used to paint each other with fluorescent poster paint. The brothers painted the naked priest. Father painted the naked boys. Then they’d take pictures.

Sometimes they used Baby Oil. They’d massage each other with Baby Oil.

They’d dress up too — like monkeys and things like that. Or sometimes they’d be dressed in combat gear holding a gun. Then someone would take a picture.

Father gave David a pellet gun. David used it to shoot pigeons at the seminary.

Sometimes they’d go to the cottage at Grand Bend. Sometimes they go camping at Rockglen, or Pinery Provincial Park. Sometimes they’d all go skinny-dipping together. Sometimes the Smithsons would be there too, and there’d be some other kids there as well. There’d be a whole bunch of kids.

Father Glendinning visited the Mitchellery’s home lots of times. Several times a week.

David’s parents were elated. They didn’t mind at all when Father took the boys away for a weekend. They didn’t mind at all when Father took them over to the seminary. David’s mom and dad named the new baby after Father.

David and his brothers were always at the seminary. He got to know every one of the seminarians that Father was teaching.

Father used to talk to David about masturbation. Father showed him all the different techniques from around the world.

David had his first sexual experience with Father Glendinning. Oral sex. To each other. Lots of times.

Father Glendinning made him feel special. He thought he was the only one.

  Jimmy Mitchellery

Jimmy Mitchellery is David’s little brother; the little six-year-old boy who went to St. Peter’s Seminary with his big brother, and often with his other brothers, and sometimes some of the other kids — and Father Glendinning.

Jimmy has vivid memories of St. Peter’s Seminary. He went there for nearly five years.

He remembers that Father would always stop the car at the foot of the driveway.   It was someone’s turn to drive the car!

He recalls the anticipation . . . .

It might be him!

The two big doors at the entrance swing open. He feels welcome there. It’s a fun place to be. It’s almost like being at home. They can go wherever they want in the big building.

Up the stairs. Down the corridor. Into Father’s quarters.

They always do some fun things on their visits. Go to a drive-in movie. Target practise on the grounds.

Invariably they end up all sitting around in Father’s living room.

They’re not allowed to smoke . . . . Father gives them cigarettes.

They’re not allowed to drink . . . . Father gives them alcohol. Father Glendinning always lets them do things they’re not supposed to do: smoke, drink, drive and play with guns.

It’s fun.

The body-painting starts out as something weird to do. Then it’s a regular part of their get-togethers. It’s usually the reason they all get undressed.

He remembers . . .

. . . Father starts to give directions. It’s sort of like a play. Father is the narrator.

Father tells them each what to do and who to do it with. Maybe he tells you to perform oral sex on so-and-so. Sometimes Father gets involved himself. Sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he just takes pictures. Sometimes they take turns taking pictures. There are lots of pictures. Pictures of a naked priest rubbing himself against you. Things like that.

There are group pictures too. Two on the bottom in a 69 position. The others on top. All of them doing something sexual to each other.

Father tells them not to tell their parents what they do. They’re not supposed to smoke and they’re not supposed to drink. Their parents wouldn’t like it.

They trust Father Glendinning.

  The Date: 1974

The Setting: a home in the Diocese of London, Ontario.

Vice-Chairman London Liturgical Commission 1973-1974: Father B.D. Glendinning, Vice-Chairman


The three-year-old boy pulls down his pants and rubs against his mother’s leg. Frances is stunned. “Auntie Jane does that with me,” the tot tells his startled mother.

Auntie Jane is Frances’ little sister, Jane Smithson. The girl, now eleven years old, sometimes comes over to the house and minds Frances’ boys while Frances goes for a quick run to the store or out for a short walk.

Horrified, Francis gets on the phone to talk to Jane.

When Jane is questioned, the child immediately admits that she did things to her nephews. Then she apologizes — and bursts into tears. Jane says she knew what she did was wrong. She adds “but that’s what Father does to us.”

Frances knows who “Father” is. There is no need to ask. Over four years ago Father Barry Glendinning befriended her young brothers and sister who live with their alcoholic mother. The alcoholic husband and father is now long gone. There is little money. Little food. Little clothing. No luxuries. Often the children collect bottles to feed themselves.

Yes, Frances knows who “Father” is. Father Glendinning visits regularly at the children’s home. He takes the children camping. He takes them to the seminary. He has become a part of their lives.

“That’s what Father does to us.”

Frances hastily rounds up her young siblings and brings them back to her own home. What she learns is disconcerting.

The police are notified.

“That’s a serious accusation” she is told.

Two, probably three detectives arrive at Frances’ home. Separately and privately the children are interviewed.

“I believe we have a case,” the detective tells Frances.

Frances is invited to join the police as they go to the seminary to make the arrest.

She remembers knocking on the door of Father Glendinning’s quarters. The door opens. She and Father lock eyes. She knows that he instantly knows why they are there. She can see it in his eyes.

Father’s quarters are searched by the police. Ten handguns are confiscated. She doesn’t recall seeing the three “skinny rifles” leaning against the wall — the ones which Jane remembers being there almost all the time. Also confiscated during the search are a set of falsies, a number of pornographic tapes, and some polaroid pictures. There are lots of polaroid pictures.

Frances scrutinizes the pictures. She has been asked to identify any children she might recognize.

One by one she sifts through the sordid pile. Pictures of children having sex with children. Pictures of the priest being painted in his net undies. A picture of the painted priest with “Glendinning is a f—–g jerk” scrawled across his back. Pictures of the painted priest alongside his youthful artists.

She identifies thirty-six children.

Later, she calls the Children’s Aid Society to have her little brothers and sister taken from their mother. She now believes her mother is incapable of caring for the children. They have to be removed.

Her brothers and sisters are sent to foster homes. The day they are taken away, one of the boys is wearing a brand new shirt. His mother bought it for him for going away. Frances’ voice cracks. She remembers thinking that maybe her mother wasn’t so bad after all. Her mother actually bought the little boy a new shirt for that day.

Later, Frances goes to pieces. She stands outside the home and screams. Her screams can be heard for blocks. It is the most painful thing she has ever had to do in her life. She still cries thinking about it. She still breaks down when she tries to talk about it. 

Frances has her mother committed to a mental institution.

Father Barry Glendinning is charged with six counts of gross indecency against six children.

18 May 1974: London Free Press

“London priest put on probation.”

Six very short paragraphs: Father Barry Glendinning, age 40, pled guilty to six counts of gross indecency involving six children between the ages of 11 and 16. Five of the children were male. The priest “was placed on probation for three years after two of the mothers of children involved testified on his behalf. . . . . .The two mothers testified that Father Glendinning had been a family friend for a number of years and had assisted them in the past with personal problems.”

Father Glendinning is sent to Southdown, a rehabilitation centre for clergy and religious with alcohol, drug and other problems.

Two years later, probably sometime in 1976, Frances receives a telephone call.

“He’s on T.V. Glendinning’s on T.V saying Mass.”

  She doesn’t believe it.

She turns on the T.V.

There he is. Father Glendinning. In Vancouver. Saying Mass.

She doesn’t understand.

. . . . .

The Children: the Aftermath

Jane Smithson (the aftermath):

After Father Glendinning was caught, Jane was placed in a foster home. She was abused there. So was her brother. The people in the homes didn’t understand that the children had been sexually molested. While she was in one group home Jane molested two other girls.

Jane “sold herself” twice. She has been in two abusive relationships. She enjoyed the abuse. She loved to be beaten up. She felt she deserved the cuts and bruises because she had been “a bad girl.”

She has two children. She says her children don’t even know about Jesus. They weren’t baptised. She couldn’t bring herself to look at a priest.

Jane had one little baby who died when he was only nineteen days old. She did have him baptised before he died. She went to get a priest. It was so hard. Seeing the priest was like seeing the devil. She felt “gross” about it, about going to a priest to say she needed him when inside she wanted to stab him.

She can’t stand the sight of a naked man. She can’t stand the smell in a church.

Jane says she has a little girl inside of her. She often acts like a little girl. A little girl about five years old. Even at work she would act like a little girl. And talk funny like a little girl. And play peek-a-boo with people.

She has cancer of the cervix. The doctor told her it was caused by penetration at an early age.

Recently Jane was upset and shocked when she heard her brother describe what had happened the first time Father Glendinning made Gary lie down on top of her when they were little. Gary apparently recalled that Father told the two children to start moving. The children didn’t know what Father meant. They started jiggling their shoulders. That’s what they thought he meant. Father allegedly got angry and told them not that way. He showed them how he wanted them to move their hips. Then he ejaculated over them.

Jane didn’t remember that. About she and Gary thinking Father wanted them to jiggle their shoulders when he told them to start moving.

They were just little children. They were so innocent.

Gary Smithson (the aftermath):

Like his sister Jane, Gary ended up in foster homes and group homes. He ran away a lot. Once he ran away  — with Father Glendinning. That was just before Father went to court.

Gary was in a foster home before he turned thirteen. After that, he got into a lot of trouble. He got involved with drugs, and car theft.

By the time he was fifteen Gary was more or less out on his own. He went half way through Grade 10. After that he picked up jobs here and there. A lot of the time he’d party all night and sleep all day. He drank. He was into drugs. He did acid.

Gary overdosed on anti-depressants when he was in his early twenties. He spent several days in the Intensive Care Unit.

He basically stopped going to Mass after it all happened. He’s gone a couple of times since then. At Christmas and Easter.

He had girl problems.

He was married once. He has two sons out West that he hasn’t seen for over ten years. Right now he’s engaged. He lives with his girlfriend. She has two children. They have two boys. They know where the children are all the time.

His girlfriend knows that he was sexually molested. He doesn’t talk about it to her. It’s too degrading.

Gary didn’t talk about it for years. He doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it. But he’s getting his life back in order now.  

He feels he lost his childhood playing with a thirty-six-year-old priest.  

Jimmy Mitchellery (the aftermath):

Jimmy remembers being “dragged” out of class and questioned by police. He wondered why it was happening. He had no idea. It all happened so quickly.

After Father Glendinning was tried, Jimmy was drinking and smoking pot. He stopped going to church.

He recalls that for years afterwards three of the four brothers were all into drugs.

Jimmy is married for the second time and has four children.

He believes now that “if you wear a collar you can get away with just about anything.”

Jimmy is settling down now. He has no desire to go to bars.

David Mitchellery (the aftermath):

David was fifteen years old when Father was caught. By then, it had been going on for about five years. He was about ten years old when it started.

He remembers the police pulling him and his brothers out of class. They told him he was old enough to know better. He recalls phoning Father Glendinning when Father “got busted.” David cried his eyes out. He wanted to see Father but Father said he couldn’t.

David remembers that Jane wasn’t invited on a camping trip because Father didn’t like little girls.

After Father was charged, David became a male prostitute. He had a sugar daddy. He was involved in organized crime. He was involved with the gay community.

David wondered if he was “gay.” He doesn’t know what he is now, but his preference is female.

He got married when he was seventeen. The marriage didn’t last, but he has a daughter from the marriage.

Later David got involved with a well-to-do married woman and her husband. He lived with them while he carried on an affair with the wife.

One day David said “enough.”

He started going to AA. He still smoked dope. In AA that was alright. Eventually he realized he had to stop the drugs too. He did.

He knows his little sister saw things at the seminary. Once she said she saw Father and the children dancing naked.

David didn’t talk about what happened to him as a boy for nearly twenty-five years.

Now he worries about the stress of all this on his brothers with their health problems. He says if anything happens to either of them he’ll come out swinging. David has Hepatitis C.

He believes his parents are the real victims. He thinks that maybe if he and his brothers hadn’t been “all messed up” things might have been different for his mom and dad. They don’t have a lot of money. He wants to be sure they are taken care of.

. . . . . .

Father Glendinning: the Aftermath

The Date: 1976

The Location: the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta

The Local Ordinary: Archbishop Joseph N. MacNeil (appointed 1973)

Sometime in 1976 Father Barry Glendinning surfaces in the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Once again he is teaching young men how to be priests, this time at Edmonton’s Newman Theological College and its affiliated seminary, St. Joseph’s. Once again he is actively involved with liturgy in the diocese and is a member of the diocesan liturgical commission.

One layman resident in Edmonton and formerly from London is vaguely familiar with Father’s past. She really doesn’t know if Father was ever charged, but she thinks the whispered rumors must boil down to no more than an inadvertent brushing of his body against a child.

Mary is, however, a little disconcerted when she realizes that Father Glendinning is once again in a seminary. The whispers and rumors of the past had something to do with the seminary in London.

Later, when she learns that the priest is assisting at three of the more rural parishes of the diocese, Mary is distinctly disturbed. And she is becoming increasingly upset by the reality that the priest is constantly chauffeured around by a young teenage boy. So disturbed in fact that she decides to phone Archbishop McNeil.

Then she wonders what will she say. The phone call is never made.  

One day, a relative taking a class from Father Glendinning asks her, “What happened to Barry?”

Glendinning didn’t show up for his lecture.

Without knowing, she somehow knows.

She soon learns that Father Barry Glendinning, the liturgist, had indeed been assisting at three rural parishes. In each parish he had set up altar boy societies which were so popular the young boys were clamoring to join.

It was through the altar boy societies that Father Glendinning would allegedly become acquainted with and start to groom his victims. It is known that at least fifteen young boys were molested. A number of them were allegedly sodomized.

She learns that Archbishop McNeil was informed.

No charges are laid.  

Once again Father Glendinning is off to Aurora, Ontario and another counselling session at Southdown.

It’s 1983.

The Date: 1984-1989.  

The Location: the Archdiocese of Toronto, Ontario.

The Local Ordinary: Archbishop Emmett Cardinal Carter. (appointed archbishop of Toronto in 1971.)

In 1984 Father Glendinning is assisting at Our Lady of Grace Church in Aurora. The parish priest is Father Paul McCarthy.

All seems well until 1989.

Father Glendinning is transferred to Blessed Trinity Church in Willowdale.

By then he has begun to teach Liturgy with the Summer Institute in Pastoral Liturgy at Saint Paul University, Ottawa.

Things are barely off the ground at Blessed Trinity when chaos erupts. An angered mother in the Edmonton archdiocese discovers that Father Glendinning is assisting in a parish in the Archdiocese of Toronto. She is one of the few who knows what happened while Father Glendinning was in Edmonton. She eventually tips off the media.

The print media in Edmonton and Toronto run with the story. Parishioners at Blessed Trinity — and the general public — become aware of Father Glendinning’s shady past.

Father Glendinning’s presence at Blessed Trinity is justified with claims that he would be closely supervised. “He is under the supervision of two excellent pastors of vigilance who were very carefully chosen,” said Father Ed Boehler.

Within months, Father Paul McCarthy, who had been pastor at Our Lady of Grace in Aurora during Father Glendinning’s tenure, is under investigation for “misconduct.”

Back at Blessed Trinity, parishioners are less than thrilled to learn that their new priest is a child molester. As chaos erupts, Father Anthony Meagher, the pastor, agrees that the situation is “extremely nuanced” but stipulates that Father Glendinning’s transfer to the parish is routine. Father Meagher says that he and his parish council had been informed and consulted about the situation prior to Father Glendinning’s transfer. According to him, Father Glendinning has been “absolutely clean” for the past six years. 

Note: Father Anthony Meagher was appointed Bishop of Kingston this month, August 2002.

Suzanne Scorsone, spokesman for the archdiocese, comes to Father Glendinning’s defence saying that “there has been, to our knowledge, no more wrongdoings on his part at this time,” and that Father Glendinning had basically paid his debt to society.

Cardinal Carter also comes to Glendinning’s defence. Christie Blatchford writes in The Toronto Sun that the Cardinal glossed over Father Glendinning’s problem as “some serious personality disorders” and said that since the priest completed his counselling at Southdown there had been no allegations against him, “No shadow of suspicion,” and that he is leading “a blameless life.” According to Blatchford, a letter from the Cardinal to the parishioners concludes “with the Cardinal pleading with the parishioners to live up to their ‘goodness,’ their capacity to trust.”

Amidst the cacophony, Father Glendinning, for his part, admits that his problem is “not an easy thing to deal with or correct” and tells the media: “I think if a person is really well-matured when it comes to celibacy they’re able to deal with that and cope with it. . . But I think I was immature and that just doesn’t go together correctly.”

All in all, approximately 75 families at Blessed Trinity rally together to ensure that they will not have a repeat child molester serving in their parish. Initially, Cardinal Carter adamantly refuses their pleas to have Father Glendinning removed. He claims that that would defy Church rules of forgiveness.

In the end, what with the media attention and all, Father Glendinning is gone from the parish.

Father Glendinning continues to teach liturgy with the Summer Institute in Pastoral Liturgy at St. Paul University, Ottawa. Shortly after the ruckus in 1989/1990, he became chairman of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Liturgy Commission, a position he retained for a number of years. He also began to serve as a consultant for the archdiocesan Catholic Office of Religious Education.

Last year, 1999, a number of sexual abuse lawsuits were launched against Father Glendinning, the London Diocese, the London District Catholic School Board and Cardinal Carter.

. . . . .

Sexual Misconduct: “A Privacy Issue”

In 1984, when Father Glendinning was first introduced as an assistant pastor at Our Lady of Grace Church in Aurora, Ontario ( a parish close to Southdown), parishioners were told that he had been receiving treatment for a drinking problem. In short order, Father Glendinning was asked to take charge of the youth group. He obliged.

Liturgical dance was introduced to the Mass during Father’s stay at Our Lady of Grace. Father remained at the parish until the summer of 1989 at which time he was transferred to Blessed Trinity Church in Willowdale. Throughout Father Glendinning’s years at Our Lady of Grace, the parish priest was Father Paul McCarthy.

Five months after Father Glendinning’s departure, in January of 1990, the media reported that Father McCarthy was “ordered out of his parish and rectory residence while he is investigated for ‘misconduct.’” Church officials reportedly were keeping details of the internal investigation secret. At the time, Judicial Vicar, Monsignor Ed Boehler, insisted that the charges against McCarthy did not involve sexual assault on children and that there was no requirement to call police or Children’s Aid.

Former detective Paul Tallon was a parishioner at Our Lady of Grace during those years. He and his wife were involved with the COR movement (Christ in Others Retreat, a retreat for young people in their mid-teens to early twenties). Father McCarthy was in charge of the COR movement.

In a recent interview with The Orator, Tallon, who retired four years ago after a number of years as a sexual assault investigator, said that Father McCarthy used to take boys on weekend trips and often had boys sleeping over at the rectory. Tallon advised Father McCarthy that the sleep-overs weren’t a good idea and just didn’t look good. To no avail.

According to Tallon, the diocesan investigation into Father McCarthy’s “misconduct” followed allegations of sexual misconduct. The allegations originally came from three male teenagers, two brothers from one family, one boy from another. The sexual misconduct allegedly transpired over a period of a few years. At some point one of the brothers decided not to pursue the allegations. He didn’t want to talk about it.  

There were also allegations that Father McCarthy had been giving boys liquor and that there were frequent slumber parties at the rectory. Father apparently denied these allegations.

The allegations of sexual misconduct arose around the same time that some sort of diocesan guidelines had been developed to deal with problems of sexual abuse. In this instance, said Tallon, a decision was made by Church officials that “the Church” would deal with the issue and it would go to a “Church tribunal.”

According to the former detective, throughout the investigation the boys and their families were treated “shabbily” and the whole thing was “a whitewash.” The priest who conducted the investigation on behalf of the diocese was a personal friend of Father McCarthy. This choice was apparently justified with the claim that there was no one else available. Tallon says that he was disgusted with the whole thing .

Other Orator sources report that, after the investigation, Archbishop Ambrozic arrived at Our Lady of Grace one Sunday to personally tell parishioners during Mass that Father McCarthy was being suspended. There was chaos. Some parishioners were yelling and screaming. Others were crying. Tallon confirms the scene. He says the parish was divided between those who defended the priest and those who felt he was guilty. Some parishioners apparently called out “Guilty or not guilty?” The Archbishop’s reply, according to Tallon, could be paraphrased as: It’s none of your business.

Father McCarthy was sent off to New Mexico for a spell. The families were told that this was to give him a rest and time for healing. Within a year or so he was serving in another parish.

When contacted by The Orator, Monsignor Boehler ( still Judicial Vicar) adamantly refused to divulge the outcome of the investigation, very curtly advising that “we” do not discuss personnel matters. When pressed, he cooly stated that this is “a privacy issue” and referred the enquirer to canon 220. Appeals to the interests of the faithful were of no avail. Monsignor did, however, momentarily concur that the issue involves children, but instantly reiterated that this is a privacy issue and referred again to canon 220 (“No one may unlawfully harm the good reputation which a person enjoys, or violate the right of every person to protect his or her privacy.”). W


A Mother’s Pain

Martha Mitchellery’s first inkling that something was wrong came too late. The boys were in school that day. Two detectives arrived at the front door. They told Martha they had reason to believe four of her boys had been sexually molested. She was devastated.

She was shocked to learn that the alleged molester was Father Glendinning. The priest had come to visit the children one evening several years ago. Then he visited more and more frequently. He took the boys hiking, to the beach or to a show. He was good with the children. He’d even correct them if they tried to talk back. She had no inclination at all that anything like that was going on.

That day, the detectives went over to the school to talk to the boys. Later, the children arrived home — alone. That’s the way it was done. It wasn’t good, but that’s the way they did it. She didn’t know any better.

When the boys got home, they didn’t talk about what had happened to them. She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t want to embarrass and upset them. She had a good relationship with the children and she was sure they would talk when they were ready. It took twenty-five years for them to talk.

She had to tell her husband what had happened. She was terrified. He wasn’t Catholic. She was the one who really believed in her religion and had vowed to raise the children Catholic. Three of her boys were altar boys. Now she felt like her religion had let her down.

When she told her husband, the two of them cried their eyes out. After that, every time they talked about it they cried. In time, they just stopped talking about it.

It was so difficult when Father was charged.. The boys were all fretting about Father Glendinning. They kept asking “Is Father going to jail?” They weren’t eating. They weren’t sleeping. They were just so worried about Father Glendinning and what was going to happen to him.

She in turn was so worried about her boys. One had a bad heart condition; another a serious chest condition. She was worried about their health. If they were acting like this now, what would ever become of them if Father was sent to jail? So, no, she didn’t want Father Glendinning to go to jail. That , she was sure, would make things worse for the boys.

That was why, when she was contacted by someone involved in the case, Martha said she didn’t want to see Father go to jail.

In no time she was contacted by someone “high up” in the diocese. He said he was sorry about what happened.  

Martha was asked to testify. She was led to understand that Father Glendinning would receive the treatment that he needed and would have no further contact with other children.

She testified.

Afterwards, a nun thanked Martha for testifying for Father.

Martha set her straight. She told the nun she did not testify for Father Glendinning. She testified for her boys.  

After the trial, there was no word from the Church. She knew nothing about counseling for children who have been molested.

Martha was put on nerve pills. The doctor thought she had a nervous stomach. She didn’t tell him what had happened to her boys. She couldn’t. For twenty-five years she took those pills.

Sometime after the trial, the boys started acting up in general. Two of her boys started getting into trouble at school. There was a break and enter. There were drugs. David particularly was belligerent.

Martha couldn’t understand what went wrong. She had tried to raise them right. She didn’t smoke or drink. Never for a moment did she think the troubles had anything to do with the molestations. She blamed herself for their behavior.

Her attendance at Mass started to slow down. At first she just didn’t go as often. Slowly it petered out. In time she stopped going altogether.

In all those years the only person she ever talked to about what had happened to the boys was her husband. Neither of them told anyone. Not even friends or family. It was all kept quiet. Nobody knew. They were trying to protect their boys.

For twenty-five long years it was all kept quiet. One day David came to her and started to talk. She finally found out how disturbed he was.

Now she feels so violated. So wronged.

Shortly after David talked to her, Martha went to her family doctor. She finally told the doctor what had happened to her boys twenty-five years ago. She was taken off the medication. Slowly. At first she was taken off completely and it nearly killed her. After that the doctor put her back on it and took her off slowly. Now she’s off it completely.

The whole thing has taken a terrible toll on the whole family. The youngest boy worshiped his four big brothers. Then they were getting into trouble.

And there was her daughter. The child was only seven or eight when Father was charged. Martha only recently learned that once, when her little girl had been at the seminary with the boys, Father Glendinning had put the child in an adjacent room with the door closed. The little girl opened the door and saw something going on. Father Glendinning yelled at her and told her to close the door.

Yes, the whole family has been affected.

She wouldn’t be so trusting again. She wouldn’t trust anyone. If you can’t trust your parish priest, who can you trust?

It tears her heart out. It’s all so painful.

2 Responses to “The Painted Preying Liturgist”

  1. Mary Smith says:

    I am absolutely horrified after reading these stories. I knew him very well as a child and as an adult, and I cannot believe it was the same person who did all these terrible things. I am sure he must also have an untold story that we will never know about, but that does not mitigate the terrible things he did to these poor innocent little ones. I will pray for all of them.

  2. Paulette Larocque says:

    I was wondering how I can get a copy of the painted preying liturgist? I am one of the victims in this story and would like to have a copy. Please let me know how I can get a copy of this? Thanks

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