When a parent sends their child to school, they expect the school officials to be focused on ensuring not just the education, but the safety, of their child. The expectation is even higher when parents send their child to a Catholic school, pay tuition, and believe the child will receive a Catholic education not just in words but in actions. One mother in Texas said her pleas for help to her children’s Catholic school officials went unanswered.
Lauren Wahrmund said her and her husband, Nathan, moved to Waco, Texas and their children were enrolled in Bishop Reicher Catholic School, a diocesan school in the Diocese of Austin. She said her 7th grade daughter had been behaving differently since the move and she thought it could be due to the new school, or a variety of other factors. However, she realize something was really wrong when she was cleaning her daughter’s room one day and noticed the child’s journal.
Lauren said she saw in her daughter’s journal “information about pornography that is present at school via cell phones and about descriptions of same-sex incidents that I was unsure if they had become physical yet. The notes in her journal stated that her friends at school had taught her more about sex and that these new things were good and pleasurable and told her how to act out these new sexual desires.” She said their children are not allowed to have a cell phone until they are in 11th and 12th grade and her daughter had become angry and obsessed about now having a cell phone. Lauren said her daughter, Madison, would start fights with her siblings for no reason and “explode” in anger over small things.
She had more discussions with her daughter over the course of time and discovered she was being bullied by students who were supposed to her friends. She said Madison had been put in situations where other students were trying to force her to do homosexual acts with students and force her to view pornography, including homosexual pornography. Incidents of pornography, sex, and bullying are present at every school, particularly in middle schools and high schools. The mother said she was not shocked that it was happening at the school. However, she said when she asked Catholic officials for help in protecting her daughter from these acts that were clearly sinful and endangered her daughter, the officials made no effort to change anything or to even seem to express concern over her daughter’s well-being.
“My daughter’s innocence has been taken away,” she said. Although her daughter eventually refused to participate in the actions, after agreeing at one time to join the students in sinful acts, the refusal to participate was met with bullying and aggression.
The mother said from November, when she first became aware of the issues, until December, she found out more information and continued emailing and reaching out for help to various officials. She emailed the principal, priest over the school, superintendent, president of the school, and even the bishop. The principal met with her and said he was “concerned” about the situation and promised to inform all the teachers to be on the lookout for bullying behaviors so they can know it is happening and intervene when it takes place. However, she said the teachers were never notified until the mother herself notified them in January.
School officials said they were going to investigate the allegations and spoke to all the named children the mother had discovered were doing the bullying and trying to force students to participate in the sexual actions. However, she said they had concluded the investigation without ever speaking to her daughter, the victim, or even requesting to speak with her. What kind of a legitimate “investigation” ignores the victim and never speaks with the victim?
“I even asked him (the principal) if he needed to speak with Madison (daughter) and he said he didn’t normally do that,” Lauren said.
Additionally, she said they were members of the parish which was connected to the school. That meant the priest over the school was their parish priest as well. She said the most concerning part of the entire thing was that their priest ignored her request for help and never even asked about the well-being of her daughter. Lauren said the priest never even called her back or addressed her request for help until she had emailed the bishop.
“He never spoke to her and never even asked her how she was doing,” Lauren said.
The superintendent, Misty Poe, admitted to the mother they had a pornography problem at the school and appeared to brush it off as something they could not do anything about in the school. During the January 18th phone call, Poe told the mother the “dignity” of the students accused of bullying, harassment, and homosexual activity during school hours was taken into consideration when they did the investigation. However, it appears they never considered the dignity of the victim since they never attempted to speak with her.
Lauren said her and her husband chose to pull their three children out of Bishop Reicher school after feeling their children were not safe due to the lack of action on behalf of the officials. She said the school had a no cell phone policy and all they had to do was enforce their own policy, which was listed in the handbook, and the situation could have been resolved. She said all they had to do was communicate with teachers and ask them to be aware of those incidents happening and request more attention be paid to the students while they were changing classes, especially in locker rooms, but they never even notified the teachers.
One of the most important decisions a parent will make for their child is where to send them to school and how that child will get an education. When Catholic parents send their children to a Catholic school, they expect their tuition will be used to educate their child in the faith not only with their curriculum but also with their actions.
Lauren joined the Our Warpath podcast and discussed her experiences and said she believed the opportunity to instill Catholic values in her children, as well as all the students, was missed.
“Honestly, I think it was such a huge, missed opportunity for the priest. He has a responsibility for these children and their souls, and it was such a missed opportunity for him to guide them. This world will eat them up in two seconds but to guide them and protect them and just show them what God has for them is beautiful and it’s not what they’re seeing,” Lauren said.
She said she believes it has become normal for Catholic schools to be no different than public schools when it comes to meeting the needs of students.
“Unfortunately, I think it’s classic Catholic school. Parents really need to be more vigilant wherever they take their kids and just be involved in their daily school life,” she said.
The lack of concern for her children has impacted their faith and the family is struggling to find a parish they feel comfortable in after their priest showed no concern for what was happening to her child. She said it has also hurt her daughter’s faith, who was once very strong in the faith and devoted. Now, the 7th grader is struggling with the faith and how her priest appeared to not care.
With the history the Catholic Church has regarding sexual abuse, sex scandals, and allegations, you would think it would learn at some point to take things seriously, specifically when it has to do with sexual activity.
Pornography is rejected by the Catholic Church in CCC 2354:
"Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials."
Homosexuality is sinful and rejected by the Catholic Church in CCC 2357:
“Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
Bullying actions attack the innocence of human beings and, therefore, attack the sanctity of human life. Those actions are condemned by the Catholic Church in CCC 2258:
"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being."
So, the question remains, why did the school officials and priest not care about sinful actions happening in their school? Why did they turn a blind eye to what was happening and dismiss it as “it happens in every school”? Sin happens in every school. That does not mean Catholics should accept and ignore it on Catholic campuses where parents pay for their child to be taught the Catholic faith.
For more information on this situation, to view documents and emails sent by the mother and Catholic leaders, and to hear more from this mom about the endangerment of her daughter, listen to the Our Warpath podcast here and you can view the documents by clicking here.