Meg and I set out for a park just a short distance from our school. The park is one of those increasingly rare spaces where humans converge regardless of economic class, and most often to take advantage of a gorgeous Chicago day to simply be for a moment. They dot the benches surrounding the elaborate fountain, simply sitting and talking, or reading, or doing nothing at all. Couples sometimes enjoy a picnic on the lush (for Chicago) grass, and dog owners come to play with/show off their treasured pets.
Meg suggested we pray for Holy Spirit to guide us to who He wanted us to talk to. We struck up a conversation with a man just standing around with his Pitbull, and the conversation quite effortlessly (praise God) opened up to allow us to ask him about his experience of the Church.
I was a child who was molested by a priest when I was a kid. I cost (the Catholic church) hundreds of millions of dollars because a suppressed memory was let in. The memory was just suppressed, it was so dramatic - so anyone can go back and sue at any time. The guy that did the bad things to me molested kids, and he was moved and moved to all these different places because he was such a scum bag. And then he ended up raping infants. So he’s a horrible human being. When he was being put away I was standing next to him to testify against him to get the grand jury to buy into it. You lose your mind going back to testify – no one else would do it. There was only one person who went in to do it and that was me.
How did that horrible experience - which was obviously from within the Church - how did that effect you? How did it impact your view of God?
For me, I went the opposite way – I was raised by really bad people, so everything I was taught, I did the opposite. So what got me through was the Church – to believe in a higher power, to know the priest and forgive. He’s a man and we’re infallible – we’re humans. There just happens to be a lot of them in that situation. A priest should be able to get married; a priest should be able to have children. They shouldn’t have to give up everything in order to achieve salvation. That’s why a lot of them are scumbags.
You get to a point where you understand it (being molested) really changed your life. Like all the altar boys I mentioned earlier – a lot of them are dead, they killed themselves, they’ve killed others. But these are guys from tremendous families - tremendously good families… but that one thing (changed their lives) … I was molested when he (the priest) was dressing me up for a play. And it was a tricky spot because he was a friend of the family. So, everything changes for you from that one person. The next kid sent in (to the priest) after me is now in a mental home. So of the survivors of the altar boys – what this one guy (Father Fred Lenczycki) did, I’m the exception, but I’m still messed up.
And then I have a sick mother who is a borderline personality disorder and she’s never been good in her life. I’m not saying this to get pity, she’s just a horrible person. That being said, she sent me to a known child molester in Michigan because she ran out of material to tease me about with Father Fred. And I was molested so she can tease me more. You can’t believe what my mom’s done. She orchestrated people’s deaths, including her own kids. She’s a tremendously messed-up woman, but there’s always loopholes where people can get away, and in this city, money buys you anything. The powerful and wealthy can get away with anything. So she’s not there mentally, but she’s beautiful and wealthy and successful and it was all covered up.
The issue is that my mom and dad are very similar. My mom’s a little more diabolical, but my dad’s killed people and he gets away with it. So he’s a successful business man with this dark side. My mom is a shit box. So those two together – you look at my brothers and my extended family – and they’re a whole bunch of psychopaths, for real. But these are successful lawyers. So in that, you don’t have a whole lot to believe in, but you tend to gravitate toward families are people who are good. But the danger is that I grew up with awful people my whole life, so that’s what I’m used to. So I’ve dated women who were abusive… for me, it’s best to be solo. You meet people and have all these triggers that set off things in your mind.
There’s so many things you deal with in life and you either rise or you fall – fail. But once you go through a certain amount, nothing really affects you. you get cauterized to the severity of things that should effect you. So how did it affect me in a positive way? Well, I can read somebody who’s a scumbag. Because of the defense mechanism I have now, I just know. I see things before they happen and I know things – some people do, some people don’t – it is what it is. If you don’t experience that and it’s not in your back yard, you aren’t going to notice it. But there are people that see stuff.
How do you maintain hope every day, with such a difficult background? Where do you find your hope?
BRETT: It sounds weird, but (where I find my hope) goes back to how we met initially. I find hope in my dog Penny, I have an aunt that I’m close to, and the church is important – you just need pillars in your life. You need to believe in something. You believe in the good in people. I mean, 98 percent of all humans are really good. There are like two percent that are scumbags, but that two percent I’ve had experience with. It’s strange, but things happen to you in life and then you just find the good in people and surround yourself with a couple of positive people, gravitate toward people that have good energy, and then avoid the shitbags."
Brett went on to tell us other stories from his life. He once saved a suicidal man from killing himself by t-boning his car, and was said to have actually died in the car seconds before getting electrocuted by the light post he hit, which shocked him back to life. Miraculously, the rest of his car was completely destroyed, but only his seat remained unscathed. Several years later, he was diagnosed with lyme disease, and almost died from that, and soon after discovered he had mirza, which he also survived.
BRETT: After you survive my motherf*****, you can survive anything. It’s just a crazy life.
Meg and I prayed with Matt, and walked away in silence. Everything about his life was insane, painful, and yet miraculous at the same time. I don’t believe he knows the Lord personally yet, but I pray he soon comes to recognize His strong hand on his crazy life.