The Virgin Mary was not allowed to witness these child-abuse crimes

By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 15 September 2018

Broken Rites is continuing its research about a Catholic religious order — the Patrician Brothers — who have been prominent in Catholic boys' schools in western Sydney. One of the Patrician Brothers' most senior members in Australia (Thomas William Grealy, known as "Brother Augustine") has admitted in court that, as a school principal, he indecently assaulted young boys, either in his office or in the classroom. In his office, according to court evidence, he would cover a statue of the Virgin Mary with a coat to hide his shame before assaulting a pupil. Grealy served a jail sentence but, after leaving jail, he was still accepted as a member of the Patrician Brothers.

In 1997, Grealy (then aged 68) pleaded guilty to repeated indecent assaults of two young boys at a Partrician Brothers school in Granville, western Sydney, in the 1970s. He was sentenced to seven years jail (eligible for parole after four years).

Thomas Grealy was born on 19 March 1929. In 1949 he became a novice (that is, a trainee Brother) in the Patrician Brothers (or the Brothers of Saint Patrick) — a Catholic order similar to, but smaller than, the Marist Brothers. Adopting the religious name "Brother Augustine Grealy", he taught in several Patrician Brothers schools.

He was a senior Brother

During his teaching career, Brother Augustine Grealy was a senior member of his order in Australia. According to a Patrician Brothers document, Brother Augustine Grealy was the Acting Provincial (that is, acting head) of the Patrician Brothers in Australia in 1968 -- that is, just a few years before the offences in the early 1970s for which he was eventually jailed.

Around this time, Augustine Grealy was a member of the Patricians' national council in Australia.

He was also involved in the training of Patrician Brothers at the order's novitiate at Narellan, New South Wales.

Broken Rites helped to bring Grealy to justice

Broken Rites first heard of Brother "Augustine" Grealy, when one of Grealy's victims ("Cyril", which is not his real name) phoned us in November 1994. Broken Rites explained to Cyril the options available for obtaining justice. As a result, Cyril (then aged 32) contacted the New South Wales Police child protection unit, where he received sympathetic help from two detectives — Peter Devine and Bob Mills.

Meanwhile, the Patrician Brothers transferred Grealy to Ireland (the world headquarters of the order) but the New South Wales police caught up with him when he returned to Australia in 1996.

In Bankstown Local Court, Sydney, on 23 January 1997. Grealy pleaded guilty to four incidents of indecent assault (meaning indecent touching) and one incident of buggery. These charges all related to one victim, "Cyril". These were not the only offences against "Cyril" that were investigated by the police — these were merely the charges that were selected for the court case. In view of the guilty plea, the prosecution withdrew a second buggery charge, also relating to "Cyril".

According to the police prosecution brief, Grealy began performing indecent acts on "Cyril", then aged ten, after school hours. The offences continued into the boy's teens, culminating in buggery, the prosecution said. Grealy was transferred from the school in 1975.

The Local Court magistrate remanded Grealy on bail for sentencing by a District Court judge.

A second victim

At the request of Cyril, Broken Rites alerted the media to attend Grealy's sentence proceedings, which began in the Liverpool District Court on 28 February 1997. Thus, a report of the pre-sentence hearing appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph next day. 1 March 1997.

This media coverage prompted another Grealy victim ("Mervyn", not his real name) to contact the police, pointing out that Grealy had other victims.

Detectives then interviewed "Mervyn" and obtained his account of Grealy's abuse. He told police that Grealy mauled him indecently as a nine-year-old in 1973.

On 22 April 1997, Grealy stood in the dock of Liverpool District Court for sentencing. This time, he also admitting indecently touching the second boy, "Mervyn".

Impact on the first victim

A psychologist's report was submitted to the court regarding the first complainant, "Cyril". The report said this victim (aged 35 at the time of the court case) had been adversely affected by the abuse and by the fact that it was committed by a respected person of authority.

The report said the church-abuse had damaged Cyril's sexuality. His marriage had failed and he had undergone more than a hundred sessions of counselling, the report said.

[The second complainant, "Mervyn", similarly had his teenage development disrupted drastically by the church sexual-abuse. Unable to tell his parents about Grealy, Mervyn became a troubled young adult and became estranged from his siblings. In his thirties he finally revealed the church-abuse but by then his life was a mess. Thus, the church-abuse impacted on the whole family.]

Because of Greely (and because of the pressure on church victims to remain silent), both Cyril and Mervyn left school prematurely at the first opportunity (after year 10) and this limited the careers of both boys.

Judge's remarks

In sentencing, Judge Jack O'Reilly said Grealy had brought great shame on himself, his family and his religious order and caused lasting damage to his victims.

"This is one of the saddest cases I have seen in my 45 years in law," the judge said.

"You were not only a teacher but it was you who the parents had entrusted the spiritual welfare of their children.

"Children do not expect this sort of behaviour from people in authority and when this sort of thing happens the child inevitably internalises the guilt.

"Where little children are concerned, they deserve protection and I must impose a sentence which contains a measure of deterrence to discourage others from committing similar offences."

Judge O'Reilly sentenced Grealy to a total of seven years' jail, with a four-year fixed term relating to one count of buggery and four of indecent assault. Grealy was to serve the sentence in protective custody [because many jail inmates are parents who object to child molesters]. He was to be eligible to apply for parole in 2001.

Outside the court, the Patrician Brothers' Australian head (Brother Peter Ryan) apologised to the victims on behalf of the order. [This apology, however, came two decades too late for Grealy's victims.]

More media coverage, more victims

Grealy's jailing was reported prominently, with a big article on page 5 in the Sydney Daily Telegraph 23 April 1997.

From time to time since then, other ex-pupils have contacted Broken Rites, reporting on Augustine Grealy's hands-on teaching methods. A former pupil ("Monty"), who was in Grade 6 at Patrician Brothers Granville in the mid-1970s, told Broken Rites in 2010:

  • "As well as being the Primary Head, Br Augustine also took temporary classes for sick students who were unable to attend the weekly sports afternoon -- and during these classes he would touch me indecently.
  • "Five or six years later, when some of my classmates and I had moved on to Patrician Brothers Fairfield to do Years 11 and 12, I learned that most of my old classmates at Granville had been molested by Brother Augustine."

In 1997, the year of Grealy's jailing for his offences at Granville, the secondary section of the Patrician Brothers' Granville school (years 7 to 12) became a co-educational college and was subsequently renamed Delany College after the Patrician Brothers' founder (Bishop Daniel Delany in Ireland in 1883).

After jail, he was still a Brother

Broken Rites has ascertained that, after he completed his jail sentence, the Patrician Brothers continued to accept Thomas Grealy as a member of their Order. Although he was now officially a convicted criminal, he was allowed to continue living (as "Brother Tom" Grealy) with other Patrician Brothers in an official Patrician residence in Sydney.

The Patrician Brothers' locations

In Australia the Patrician Brothers have operated mostly in New South Wales. According to the 2009 edition of the Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia, the Patrician Brothers are still located at six addresses in New South Wales — at Blacktown, Bradbury, Casula, Fairfield, Ryde and The Entrance. In the 2004 directory, the Patrician Brothers were also located on Thursday Island, off the northern coast of Queensland. In the 1988 directory they were also located at Narellan NSW and Wahroonga NSW.

The Patrician Brothers have been active in Third World countries, including Papua New Guinea, India, Pakistan and Kenya — beyond the reach of Broken Rites Australia.

In approximately 2005, the Catholic Church authorities appointed a senior member of the Patrician order, Brother Philip Mulhall (born as Francis Mulhall), as executive officer of the church's National Committee for Professional Standards. The NCPS superintends the church's Australia-wide "Towards Healing" process which claims to "help" the church's sex-abuse victims.