January 20, 2005

Help for survivors

Sunday News

By Cris Foehlinger
Sunday News

Published: Jan 14, 2005 12:03 PM EST

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA - Patricia Cahill walked into a large meeting room in Philadelphia and listened as several people told her story to the crowd.

The pain became too great and she bolted, running smack into members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. The team helped Cahill regroup and build the confidence to stay and hear what she needed to hear.

Pat Serrano, mother of Mark Serrano, an abuse victim who is a national spokesman for the Chicago, Ill.- based SNAP, met Cahill and Donna Wilcox, a supportive friend, at the front door. She wanted them to meet Bob Hoatson.

When Cahill learned he was a priest, she declined. "My sponsor (Wilcox) told him not to get involved with me unless he meant to help me,'' Cahill recalled. "She said, "She's been through it 100 times with clergy.' '' Hoatson has been with her since that day.

Cahill is seeking help to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder and drug and alcohol addiction that she says stem from a long-term sexually abusive relationship with Sister Eileen Shaw of the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, N.J.

Cahill received therapy and a cash settlement in 1994. She also signed a gag order.

Last year, she again asked the Catholic order for help and was turned down. "They told me they would pray for me,'' she said.

Posted by kshaw at January 20, 2005 06:05 PM