WE EACH HAVE A NAME
At the start of 1976, I was in the 5th grade, an altar boy at St. Mary Magdalen in Metairie. After finishing the school year, we moved to River Ridge, therefore our new church would be St. Matthew the Apostle. My parents insisted that I attend summer school to ensure I was up-to-date with my classmates. It was there I met my first clergy member at St. Matthew, Deacon George Brignac. He was my summer school teacher as well as the director of the altar boy program. He seemed very interested in me joining the program and paid special attention to me during class - always touching me when I was in my chair, constantly hovering around me.
Shortly after summer school started, he found ways to reach his hand into my pants, fondling my genitals and penis. Terrified, I froze, not knowing what to do, as my classmates looked on. This continued for the first few weeks, and then he asked me to lunch to discuss my joining the program. I said yes to the invitation, only to be molested and raped on the way home, a secret I hid from my parents. I could tell no one, for we were taught that clergy were the next closest thing to GOD. During the duration of summer school, he continually placed his hand down my pants, and on the last occasion, he ripped the whole side of my pants open in front of the entire class as I pulled away. I could hear their laughter as I ran out of the room with him following, grabbing me and screaming, “IF YOU TELL ANYONE, I WILL FAIL YOU!”
Summer school ended and the new school year began, and this became a whole new issue. To some I was The New Kid, to others I was Brignac’s New Boy. The church was not going to be a part of my life after what had happened, so I became a patrol boy/crossing guard. Since my parents were devout parishioners, I would get dressed and tell them I was heading to church on my bicycle. I would then ride my bike the entire time, never attending mass. As the teasing continued around school, I started sneaking alcohol from my parents’ house and drinking. I was only 13 at this point but it took the edge off, leading me in a new direction.
By the end of 7th grade I had my first opportunity to get away from St. Matthew’s. Brother Martin had an 8th grade program and asked my father if I could go, and he agreed. By the end of my sophomore year, I realized that the church could no longer be part of my life, and transferred to Riverdale High School. Removing the fear of church and clergy made it much easier to drink before, during, and after school. I became a full-blown alcoholic after graduation. I first attempted sobriety in my early 20s and remained sober for 15 years. These were busy times- raising a family and juggling my time working for a major corporation, running my own businesses, and moving around the country. However the frenetic schedule was a necessary diversion.
Fast-forward to 2018. We had just moved back to Louisiana, and my life was thrown into chaos once again. One evening a report about George Brignac came on the local news. I lost it right then and there in front of my wife, Colleen. I sat shaking on the sofa, repeating over and over, “It’s him, it’s him.” Though my wife had no idea what I was talking about, she did her best to comfort me. A box that had been stored and forgotten deep in my brain was suddenly opened. That was December. I made it through the holidays, faking it. 2019 was my Year of Hell, blaming myself for what had happened and wanting to commit suicide again.
I hit rock bottom one morning when I came home drunk at 10 AM, begging for help from Colleen. She brought me to a behavioral hospital, and by mid-day I had checked myself in. It was there that I realized none of this was my fault, however I became 12 once again whenever I thought of the past. With the support of family, friends, co-workers and others, I’ve gained more and more strength. I realize now that my tears, when this topic takes center stage, are tears of joy, and not just pain, because of the support I’ve gained throughout this process. Finally, I have no more fear. I am a person, a son, a husband, a father, an uncle, and a grandfather.
I have a name: STEPHEN MCEVOY SR.
New Orleans, Louisiana
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