Sacred Monsters

Sacred Monsters; Confronting the culture of sex abuse in the shadow of the Old Mission is my  piece on the clergy sex abuse scandal through the lens of St Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara for Mission and State. The piece includes the narrative, 3 videos, photo gallery and an interactive timeline to capture the entire scope of the issue.


                                                                                         (photo by Sam Slovick)

I had no idea what I was stepping into when I showed up at the Old Mission. I was shocked to discover that there are 4ooo Chumash babies buried under the path that tourist walk in the adjacent cemetery, among the many and varied other ghosts haunting the place. I recently ran into a Franciscan in robes on State Street who told me that you see what you want; that the Mission is a Rorschach of sorts and that there is actually a lot of light there as well.

Dating back to the 40’s and 50’s the Franciscan’s were nurturing a culture of child abuse at the Mission and St Anthony’s Seminary, a boarding school a few hundred yards away, that went unchecked for decades. The fall out is still expanding exponentially since the friars in Santa Barbara have never effectively reentered the community, according to Paul Fericano, a survivor of St Anthony’s Seminary  in the 60’s. Ferican’s story is the thread that I followed to tell the story of the counterfeit celibate Catholic culture that has been producing and fostering child abuse for centuries. Fericano is focused on forgiveness and restorative justice. An decidedly evolved thinker who has taken on the work of a collective  healing as his life’s work as co-founder of SafeNet, a survivors advocacy group.

Read Sacred Monster and see the entire production at Mission and State.


   (photo by Sam Slovick)

Richard Sipe

Paul Fericano

Terry Mckiernan

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