Ballarat clergy sex abuse survivor Philip Nagle thanks St Patrick's College

CONNECT: Philip Nagle, centre, meets with headmaster John Crowley and student leaders Kelsey Gannon, James McKinnon and Jacob Hopper.
CONNECT: Philip Nagle, centre, meets with headmaster John Crowley and student leaders Kelsey Gannon, James McKinnon and Jacob Hopper.

BALLARAT clergy sex abuse survivor Philip Nagle has thanked the St Patrick’s College student community for acknowledging and apologising for the past.

The former St Patrick’s College student visited the college to meet with headmaster John Crowley and student council leaders in July.

Mr Nagle’s visit followed a letter published by student leaders in The Courier in May as the first Ballarat sitting of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was closing.

The letter says students tied ribbons onto the college gates to “offer our deepest sympathies and assuring the broader community that the college, as it stands now, is an institution that is acknowledging and apologising for its past, but also hoping to assist in the healing process and then building from that”.

Mr Nagle said the letter prompted him to meet with the student community. He said it was important to him that the college acknowledged sex abuse victims and survivors.

“To be acknowledged by (student) leaders and that school is very good,” Mr Nagle said.

He said a positive that came out of the royal commission was that the abuse in schools stopped and they were made safer places.

“We have made our schools safer places because we came forward,” he said.

Headmaster John Crowley said he was proud of the way the students had taken the initiative to write the letter. 

“Our student leaders, in this instant, displayed every characteristic you would ever want to see in anybody in a leadership position,” Mr Crowley said.

“They were forthright, honest, compassionate, courageous and caring. They have helped, in a very tangible way, the healing process for many who have been harmed by child sexual abuse and have provided a moment of joy in what is a very difficult period for the entire Ballarat community.”

Mr Crowley meets regularly with victims, survivors and their support networks. The group has discussed a mindfulness program to equip students with awareness and safety skills.