Catholic Diocese announces public screenings of "Breaking the Silence"

A professionally produced DVD about the impact of child sexual abuse titled Breaking the Silence will be screened in Muswellbrook this Saturday and shown to audiences in the Newcastle, Lower Hunter and Manning regions in coming months.


Breaking the Silence was commissioned by the Insights Team in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Insights is a program that has evolved from an identified need to explore the deep and lasting effects of child sexual abuse on the faith communities within the diocese.


The production of the DVD came about as a direct response to members of the community who attended Insights gatherings in recent years, and who wished to hear first hand accounts from those who had been most affected.


Taking some eighteen months to produce, Breaking the Silence is stark in its simplicity. Patricia Feenan, mother of Daniel, a victim of deceased priest James Fletcher, and Bob O'Toole, who was sexually abused by a Marist Brother at school, speak about their experiences, their treatment by the Church community and the impact of the abuse on their lives to this day.


Bob and Pat represent many more who are not yet able to tell their stories.


Co-ordinator of Healing and Support for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Ms Maureen O’Hearn, said recently, “The DVD was produced to be used with facilitated groups. While there is nothing gratuitous or unnecessarily explicit in the film, it does have the potential to disturb, and Insights takes seriously its responsibility to exercise due diligence in caring for the members of the community it encounters.”


Breaking the Silence, which lasts 30 minutes, will be shown during facilitated Insights gatherings at a range of locations in coming months. All are welcome to these gatherings. 


Insights gatherings are scheduled in the following locations:

  • Saturday 11 May 9.30am-11.30am at St James’ Primary School Hall, Skellatar Stock Route, Muswellbrook.
  • Tuesday 21 May 7.00-9.00pm at St Brigid’s Parish Hall, William St Raymond Terrace.
  • Saturday 1 June 9.30-11.30am at St Paul’s Primary School Hall Felton St Gateshead.
  • Wednesday 26 June 7.00-9.00pm at Holy Cross Parish Hall, 30 Oakland St Glendale.

Screenings will be held at Broadmeadow, Forster, Maitland and Cessnock in August/September; dates and locations to be confirmed. 


Insights works on a collaborative model and its stated intention is, "The courage to listen to ourselves, each other and the Spirit in response to the issue of sexual abuse in our community in the hope of addressing together our emerging needs."