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Spiritan priests left trail of abuse in Ireland, Kenya and Sierra Leone

In Kenya, one priest said: `I can’t hear your confession. We would have to stop what we do, and I cannot do that’

The late Spiritan priest Fr Patrick Hannan faced abuse allegations from his time while teaching at St Teresa’s secondary school for boys in Nairobi, Kenya. The Limerick native was a brother of the late Fr Gerard Hannan, who was an abuser at Blackrock College in Dublin.

On Tuesday’s Liveline programme “Stephen” (61) spoke of his abuse by Fr Aloysius Flood, Fr Senan Corry and Fr Gerard Hannan at Willow Park and Blackrock College in Dublin in the 1970s. A spokesman for the Spiritans told The Irish Times they had “no dispute with Stephen’s account on Liveline.”

Where Fr Patrick Hannan is concerned, Alex de Figueiredo, a retired teacher living in Vancouver contacted with the help of abuse survivor Mark Vincent Healy, told The Irish Times in 2012 that he had been a day pupil at the Spiritan/Holy Ghost St Teresa’s secondary school in Nairobi from 1955 to 1961.

His family were from the Indian state of Goa and staunchly Catholic. At St Teresa’s he was “sexually abused by Fr Patrick Hannan [school headmaster and parish priest] from the age of 11 to 16 [January 1956-1961]”.


Once he went to Fr Hannan in confession. The priest said, “I can’t hear your confession. We would have to stop what we do and I cannot do that.”

He believed Fr Hannan went for the more intelligent boys. ‘Luckily, I wasn’t one of those’

Alex went to another priest to hear his confession, who was also his Latin teacher, and was given “a severe penance”.

Tony D’Souza, living in London at the time, recalled how he was a classmate of Alex de Figueiredo’s at St Teresa’s in Nairobi but was “oblivious to all that had been going on” where Alex and others were concerned. He discovered it at a class reunion 10 years before he spoke to The Irish Times. By then, he knew of five abused classmates.

He believed Fr Hannan went for the more intelligent boys. “Luckily, I wasn’t one of those,” he said.

A spokesman for the Spiritans confirmed that Fr Hannan had been “in a school/ and in parish work in Kenya (1950-1969).”

Subsequently he was in the “USA (1971-1989), returning to Ireland in poor health. He died in 1993”. The spokesman also said, however, that there was “one confirmed case” against him and that emerged “after his death.”

Another Spiritan priest, Fr Arthur Carragher, served in Nigeria for 17 years before joining the teaching staff at St Mary’s College, Dublin, in 1969. He transferred to Toronto in Canada in 1971, and in 2001 was accused by four men, including two brothers, of abusing them during his time at St Mary’s in Dublin.

However, as there was no extradition treaty between Ireland and Canada, where Carragher then lived, he successfully resisted being tried in Ireland. In 2002, he admitted to abusing two of the men and they were paid compensation by the Spiritans. The priest remained in ministry until 2011, when he died in Canada.

In 1973, Fr Henry Moloney was transferred by the Spiritans to their Christ the King College at Bo in Sierra Leone, where he abused several boys. He would later be convicted of abusing four boys while at St Mary’s College in Dublin between 1969 and 1973.

In 1979, Fr Moloney was appointed briefly to Blackrock College in Dublin, where he remained until appointment to Rockwell College, Co Tipperary, in 1980. He remained there until 1996, when he was removed from ministry and placed under strict supervision.

In 2000, he was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for sexually assaulting two boys at St Mary’s while there between 1969 and 1973, and served 15 months. In 2009, he was convicted of abusing two other boys at St Mary’s during that time.

In 2015, Fr Moloney received a four-year prison sentence for abusing a boy while at Rockwell College between 1980 and 1996.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times