September 2nd, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 34
The Boys of St. Vincent
- A John M. Smith film
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
The Boys of St. Vincent - Movie Cover
Ruth's Review
This is a story about a janitor, Mike Finn and a group of orphan boys. Set in Newfoundland, against a backdrop of fishing vessels and black-robed priests, in a province where jobs are at a premium, Mike risks his job , eventually losing it, by intervening in the life of a young orphan names Kevin who has been beaten by a priest, to the place where he required medical attention. When Bother Lavin, the supervisor of St. Vincent’s Orphanage isn’t beating Kevin, he is sexually assaulting him. Sadly, Brother Lavin is not the only priest who molests the orphan boys in his care.

The janitor goes to the authorities after taking Kevin to the local hospital. Here he is told he must fill out a form, stating his complaint to which he replies, “You don’t need to know how to read and write to know the difference between right and wrong”.

He then contacts a detective who begins his investigation by taking the orphan boys in for questioning. Each statement is a variation on the same theme. The priest is molesting them.

As the noose continues to tighten, Brother Lavin becomes increasingly hostile towards the boys, especially his favourite, Kevin.

Overshadowing this tragic tale are the upcoming celebrations of St. Vincent’s 100 Anniversary and the presentation by the province of a cheque for the orphanage for one million dollars.

As part one continues to its conclusion, various priests are ushered out in the dead of the night into shiny black cars. With the Cardinal explaining that these men are sick and in need of treatment. The detective is also warned by the chief of police that if he continues the investigation he will also lose his job.
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Part two, the Boys of St. Vincent fifteen years later, allows us to catch up with a handful of survivors from the orphanage. During this time Brother Lavin has left the priesthood, married and had two sons.

When requested to appear at his trial, his wife, totally ignorant of her husband’s past is shocked and horrified. She packs up her boys and leaves.

As the trial proceeds, the tangled threads of the lives of both the priests and abused orphans, weaves a disturbing picture. The Catholic Church of Newfoundland, as portrayed by this story, shows an institution that had a stranglehold on the people of the province.

Although a fictional tale, it was inspired by true events. At the time the movie was to be released, a lawyer for the accused, asked for a publication ban. It was granted for the city of Montreal and the province of Ontario. However, the decision by the courts was not unanimous.

The question that begs an answer to this is, “What is more important, the freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Charter or an individual’s right to a fair trial”?

One point was made abundantly clear in this story. Total authority without accountability, always leads to abuse and sometimes it takes an illiterate janitor to act as a catalyst for justice. Parts of this movie are sexually explicit, however if they had been omitted, the movie would have lacked the authenticity it provides.
September 2nd ~ Vol. 85 No. 34
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