May 19, 1983 was a historical day that will forever impact my life. What? You don't recognize it? It's not a day that rings a bell? Not like April 10, 1912? Or December 7, 1941? Or September 11, 2001? Although at the time, May 19th was like any other day and I had absolutely idea how the events would affect my life. As I look back it, the events of that day and night are seared in my mind.
May 19, 1983 was the Diaconate Ordination of Mr. George Bredemann who would, from the ceremony forward, be addressed as Fr. George. I was at the ordination because my best friends and myself, Beth McWeeney and Michelle Whisler, helped Fr. George with the handicapped ministries that was sponsored by St. Theresa School. Every week we gathered at Feeney Hall and did activities, hung out, and basically befriended mentally handicapped students. A few times we went to where they lived. That was always an interesting experience. Once, we even went on a camp out together. I still remember thinking something was not right...but, I was only twelve at the time. And, what does a twelve year old know? Right?
Fast forward to 1988. News broke in Phoenix that Fr. George Bredemann had been arrested on charges of sexual molestation. WOW. I was in college at the time and was certainly perplexed. I remember talking to my husband about it. When I called my mom and asked her what she thought, I remember her telling me that my brother, Nathan, had come home from school one time and said Fr. George had changed in front of him and it made Nathan very uncomfortable. This interaction with my mom brought up memories from the camping trip with the handicapped kids. But, still-I had only been twelve, right? Would I have remembered correctly?
Fast forward to 2001. I was talking to someone who stated, “I see your faith is very important to you. How do you feel about men being priests?” My instant response was, “man wasn't designed to be alone. Very few have the actual gift of celibacy.”
Once again the wretched night on the camping trip came back to the forefront of my memory. Looking back now—and because of the fact George Bredemann was found guilty-- I'm pretty sure I know what happened to that boy in his tent that night. If I saw a picture of the young man, I'd know him in an instant—the event left THAT much of an impression on me. A kind of an impression that the sinking of the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, or the attack on the Twin Towers can evoke. I was only twelve, but that day is locked in my memory. It shook me to the core as I thought of how I believed in Fr. George and trusted him. It made me reconsider who my role models are in life. Do my role models deserve the pedestal I put them on? Am I a role model to anyone and do the little things in my life really affect others.