St. Mary of the Angel

Edward Rohs and Judith Estrine

in Raised by the Church

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780823240227
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240265 | DOI:
St. Mary of the Angel

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This chapter explores Ed Rohs world after he is taken to St. Mary of the Angel, an institution that housed 172 boys in three dormitories. Ed describes in detail the disciplined and efficient morning rituals centering around the 15-minute government surplus breakfasts. If boys misbehaved they were punished, and if they didn't eat quickly there was no second chance. Nobody starved, but neither were they ever full, so boys kept trying unsuccessfully to break into the huge padlocked refrigerators. He notes that too few nuns were responsible for too many children. For two weeks Ed was sent to live with a family to see if he would like foster care. He discovered that the outside world was very different and that the very aspects of the institution that some might consider terrible were very comforting to him. He was totally institutionalized. He tells of a maternal and loving nun and of a sadistic lay counselor who, unbeknownst to the sisters, tormented the little boys both physically and psychologically. Ed discusses the effects of this trauma within the context of having no control over circumstance, and without sufficient staff to listen to his concerns (e.g., who would believe his complaints of sadism?) and support him as an individual.

Keywords: St. Mary of the Angel; morning rituals; government surplus; foster care; institutionalized; sadism; trauma

Chapter.  3922 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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