Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fr William and public humiliation

I entered Novitiate of the Legion of Christ in 1986 and Fr William Izquierdo was my novice instructor. Hearing of the charges of sexual misconduct against him have provoked dozens of memories of my experience with him in Cheshire. Thankfully I was never knew of any of this while I was there, and was never a victim of that kind of abuse. But that doesn't mean I have all fond memories of the man.

Anyone who was one of his novices can attest to how he treated us. How many times were you told, "You are stupid, brother." His favorite for me (and others) was, "You're lazy, brother, 'flojo'." I worked a full-time job lugging coke cans before I entered the legion, and I loved the heavy work. The jobs I was given in the novitiate I always sought to do well, not to gain the praise of my superiors, but because I am a perfectionist. But being called lazy and stupid time and again was his way of breaking you down.

It all came down to public humiliation. How do you justify that in a Congregation that preaches Christian charity as its charism?

I can't remember if I told this story before, but if I did, it's worth telling again.

One day we were practicing in the band in the dining room in Cheshire on a work day when Fr William came in making his rounds. I don't remember what I said or what he said, or even if I said anything at all, but at one point he jabbed me in the temples with the knuckles of his index fingers. I was furious. I'm sure the other brothers could see it in my face. But I held my tongue. Fr William just giggled and walked away.

I wasn't the only victim of public humiliation. There were many others, if not all. Even the hand-picked special few, the pretty boys he surrounded himself with were humiliated. Maybe more than others. Makes me wonder what kind of treatment they were given behind closed doors to make them so submissive to him.


  1. Father, do you remember when in 2001 as the accusers had reintensified their claims (thank the Lord for their persistence in fighting for truth and justice!), Fr. William wrote a letter to MM explaining how "those who were there in the early years know that these accusations weren't true." Well, either MM or somebody in the DG had that letter put up on every bulletin board in the Legion. I was a philosopher in Thornwood and ran into Fr William on the summer apostolate circuit in California a few weeks later. We had lunch together with the brother accompanying him. The wet behind the ears brother I was, I asked him "Fr William what was it like with NP in the early years." I wanted to hear him talk about these halcyon days. His response "You saw my letter didn't you. It was in there." As I look back on that, after all the revelations, that letter disgusts me. He just patently lied to all of us. And he didn't have the courage to address my question. Did he have a modicum of a conscience? I don't know. You and others knew him so much better than I did (Novitiate 1997-99). I think I can say for sure he didn't have the guts to either be honest or to repeat the lies to my face.

  2. Was Father William stationed in Washington Dc in the early 2000's?

    Thank you--

    1. Fr William began in Washington DC during my second year of internship which I believe was 1993. Fr William stayed there to like 2004 more or less if I am not mistaken


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