CHRONICLES FROM THE HALL
This is a coming of age story that takes place in the halls of a Catholic boarding school run by the Sisters Of Mercy. It’s set in the heart of the Roman Catholic Precinct of St. John’s, Newfoundland.
I was forced there by a cruel, and often abusive stepfather and a weak, narcissistic mother after the death of my father.
I have endeavoured to make the reader a voyeur, titillated, if you will, by a look inside this often forbidden world.
I am the story. It was my world for all of my high school years. It seems like a short period of time but in actuality they are probably the most important years of any young girl’s life. I share my story with many other girls but mine is as unique and subjective as those who attended along with me.
I have conveyed the scope and power of the Roman Catholic Church in St. John’s during those years. That power had an even stronger foothold than many other places because of the fact that Newfoundland is an island. The evidence has been borne over the years in the aftermath of the sex scandals that rocked the church world. Scandals that involved the Christian Brothers of Mount Cashel Orphanage and innumerable priests who were found to have had sexually abused both boys and girls in Newfoundland were found guilty both there and around the world.
The Sisters of Mercy had a mandate to educate and protect the children in their care. They did give me the gift of a fine education and a finely trained mind but these supposed holy women of God, instead, deemed that we bend and mould ourselves into the shapes that they deemed fit. I often refer to it as a kidnapping of the mind. There was no room for individuality or a sense of pride in one’s achievements. They were strong, forceful disciplinarians and were archaic in their approach to the modern world, especially in the ever-changing 1960’s. Then came Vatican II during my second year at the hall. It not only rocked their world but ours as well.
I let go of all reservations and just wrote about my own experiences. I express raw emotion and infused as much humour as I could. It is not always a pretty story.
I think that the book will have broad appeal. Those of my generation who grew up in a more “normal” setting will be curious to see the inner workings of this insular world. From my public readings I have experienced a real and avid interest from both men and women to know more. Today’s generation, I think, will be equally curious to catch a glimpse of a by-gone era but one not so far in the past as to seem irrelevant.