My mother was a young girl of 16 years, when she gave birth to me in Wellington. On
March 31st 1941. I was then taken to St.Joseph's
I was raised in
two different orphanages, from two months old to twenty-four years. St. Joseph's
Orphanage and Nazareth House.
I feel because my
mother was a young unmarried girl. Was why I was punished continuously, when I was a baby, right up through my teenage years
to 24 years old, until I left.
Other children there
were treated well. The ones who had no outsider to care for them and visit were at the mercy of the nuns.
It was at the time
in the Roman Catholic Church, everywhere. Were the baby was the one who was punished for being born out of wedlock. And that
the, "Illegitimate" children were regarded as the product of evil, so therefore had to be punished,
to have the evil
removed. Or they would end up like their mothers.
I was told that
I had bad blood in me, at the two Orphanages.
The Catholic Church
has a lot to answer for, especial for my lost childhood.
The nuns told me,
time and time again that I had the sins of my mother in me. And that They had to punish me, to get them out of me, as well
as the devil
STIGMA of ORPHANAGE.
was such a bad stigma attached to having being in an orphanage, it was always a Dirtv word. It was the next worst thing,
to being "Illegitimate." I was both.
A young, unmarried pregnant girl would
go away with her mother, to another part of the Country, to have her baby, who was then brought up as a sister or brother,
to the birth mother.
If the pregnant girl's parents did not
want the girl to keep her baby, the child was put up for adoption, fostered out, or taken to an orphanage.
The rigid Victorian moral attitudes,
was the lifestyle then. The social climate of the time was such, that the shame associated with "Illegitimate." Was that the
baby was called a "Bastard," and was not tolerated.
The baby was the one who was at fault,
so from then on, had no rights and was treated
like a criminal. The child's feelings
were never considered.
Verbal sarcastic attack by the nuns and
older girls were a every day accuracy, resulting in a lifetime of low self-esteem.
The nuns wore large Rosary beads on their
3inch wide belt, around their waist, to whack us with.
Didn't they know how one contradicted
There were double standards in the orphanage,
in the name of God.
I felt, really scared of anyone in authority
all of the time.
It was so devastating, to be stripped,
of all clothes, hair shaved off for any lice and nits. They used strong carbolic soap and roughly scrubbed us all over, as
well as our hair. Imagine how after, when our hair was comb. The screams of the knots being pulled out through the teeth and
then being slapped across the face, because we were crying,
We were given a different name, if any names were the same as another child already in the orphanage
"We had to been seen and not heard."
"Spare the rod and spoil the child" was
another thing that was acted on. As well as. "Children in your position should be grateful."
Was a statement said over and over again.
The two Orders decided how they would
bring up girls like me and gave me no skills, education, other than what suited their purposes so that, at the stage when
I might have been expected to have ideas of my own. perhaps even encouraged to look at options and choose education for a
useful future. I was kept fit only for what the Orders had in mind for me - domestic
labour. I was made to be scared and kept in a state of ignorance of the world, of men, of money, of relationships and of love.
I was scared of myself because of the
teaching that whatever I did deserved
only punishment. I was taught that I
was doomed to hell because I was a child of my mother's sin and the nuns' punishment were for my sake in the hope of driving
out of me my mother's sin.
Each Sunday we would sit outside the
front door to be adopted out. It was really awful sitting out there. Just waiting and waiting and wishing that this Sunday,
Someone will take my hand today and say.
You! Come with me.
I recall, being in the kitchen at one Sunday morning
While everyone else was at Mass.
We would go to the kitchen every Sunday
morning, on rainy days
Instead of walking over to the other
convent for Mass.MountMagdala Convent.
On this occasion there were twenty girls, unsupervised.
We heard a knock at the door and a man's voice outside.
All the girls ran out of the kitchen but me, I climbed onto a big
glass cupboard. When the knocking ceased the other girls came back to help me, pulling me down.
My dress got caught on a nail and they pulled on my legs, Eventually
pulling the cupboard over on top of me.
I was in the hospital for about six months, with a fractured skull.
Mother Francis of Rome would come to see me.
Parts of the outer auricle along the sides, of both my ears, are missing.
From when the class cupboard full on top of me, at St. Joseph's Orphanage.
I still get bad headaches. It gets that bad sometimes, as if my head
would break open. It is like it would burst.
KITCHEN BACK DOOR.
The following is a frequent practice repeated between the age of five
and ten years. Until I left. To avoid this sequence I would try to hide in the toilets, by the back door of the kitchen. Mother
Euphrasia would drag me out by my hair and ears.
It was exceedingly painful, but I did not cry aloud.
She would put me in a sack, tied the top of it and tell me that the
pig man was Going to come and take me away.
My thoughts on these occasions were along the lines of.
"What have I done this time ?" "Is there no God to help me?"
He said. "Come little children unto me for I am mercy." But not for
I stayed in the sack for a long time. I would hear a car coming.
"Is it for me?"
"Don't do this."
"Help me someone please!"
I can't call out; the nun has hit me with a stick again!
The man is here. "Is he coming to get me?"
He and the nun talk and then she opens up the sack. I can't see for
a while. I am told that it was because of what my mother had done that I was punished. "Oh mum, what did you do? that I should
be treated this way."
I was locked in a room with no windows, which seemed like, three days
and two nights. This room was also near the back door of the kitchen. Before I was put into the lobby, which it was called,
Mother Euphrasia thrashed me. I don't know what I had done wrong.
Even if we put our toes over the line, we were whipped.