"Sr. Clara's First Profession" by Br. Christian Seno, OFM / CC BY 2.0

Women Sexually Abused By Catholic Nuns Speak Up: She Told Me It Was ‘God’s Love’

Apr 12, 2019

By Carol Kuruvilla and Jessica Blank

The predator nun walked into Trish Cahill’s life straight out of the blue, on a busy summer day in the late 1960s.

Cahill was a teenager back then, wire thin with long, chestnut brown hair framing her face. She was babysitting her cousins in Glen Rock, New Jersey, and there were eight of them to look after ― a big Catholic family, much like her own.

One cousin was playing outside that day and Cahill had another little one in a high chair in the kitchen. It was quite a common child care tactic at the time, she said ― stick a kid in a playpen in the yard and watch through the window while doing chores and taking care of the others inside.

Cahill was washing dishes at the sink when she looked up and spotted a nun, in a full religious habit, hovering over the baby’s playpen.

At that point in her life, the teenager was still trying to make sense of a painful secret ― the sexual abuse she says she experienced just years earlier from her uncle, a Catholic priest. So when she saw the nun leaning over the baby, Cahill said, she sprinted outside to protect the child.

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