Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Monday, 4 May 2015

Fr. Matthew Despard and the Choir Mistress

There has been much written on the blog concerning Fr. Matthew Despard, much of it without any reference to the book Priesthood in Crisis. The following is an excerpt from that book and a response from one of the people involved. Judge for yourselves.

Chapter Four - The Facts

Although it is not my wish to sully the character of any member of my congregation, I am obliged, given the situation I now find myself in, to explain something of the problem I had with this lady, and to further aver that I did, from the outset, make clear to her what my concerns were.

Mrs. X is a prominent figure in the parish of St. John Ogilvie. She is, as she rightly points out in her letter, involved in a local community choir, is a member of a local school's Parent/Teacher Association (although her child is no longer a pupil at the school). I reluctantly add, and only because it is relevant, that she is well known for her dominant personality and her need to be constantly in the limelight. It was this aspect of her character that led to the actions on my part that resulted in her formal complaint.

I first became aware that Mrs. X might be a problem for me when I officiated at a funeral a few months back. The daughter of the dead person seemed cold and distant towards me, indeed appeared almost resentful. A priest friend of mine, who was at the funeral as a member of the family, explained that Mrs. X had been making some very negative statements about me and that the daughter had been reacting to them. He then warned me to be careful of this lady because she had been banned from attending St. John Ogilvie chapel by my predecessor. He, too, had been victim of serious but unjustified detraction by her and, in fact, was driven forcibly to remove her from his church. She took umbrage at this and reported the matter to the bishop. I find it odd that in all our conversations about the lady, the bishop continued to deny all prior knowledge of her.

I listened to what my friend had said but took no action. It was inevitable, however, given the nature of selective attention, that I would come to notice the lady's future behaviors. She seemed to be deferred to by a number of my parishioners and clearly had a degree of control over them.

I started a small music club shortly after my arrival at Blantyre. Mrs. X volunteered to give some of the children guitar lessons. Some six or seven youngsters joined but within two weeks all had left. When I enquired discreetly about this I was told that her angry and aggressive demeanor had scared all the children off. Again, I simply noted this but did not act on it.

Not many weeks after that funeral I became aware of even more serious events. This information was not something I actively sought. It fell my way by pure chance. It happened that I was advised by a parishioner that a lady member of my flock was in need of counseling and support. The lady's husband was involved in an illicit affair with a member of the community choir. During that conversation I was also told that Mrs. X was aware of this relationship.. When I asked if Mrs. X had attempted to do anything about the issue, my informant laughed dryly and said that Mrs. X would have to sort out the whole choir since it was rife with illicit and immoral interactions. I was shocked. My informant seemed glad to have an opportunity to expand on this. She, too, was clearly concerned. "There is no moral leadership in the choir," she told me. "All sorts of questionable behaviors are being tolerated... including the affair between the married man and that young girl."
 The following article is from

Furious choir mistress blasts whistle-blowing priest over sex scandal claims which have made her life ‘hell’

An angry choir mistress yesterday revealed how a whistle-blowing priest’s controversial book has made her life hell.
Laura Gaddis, 53, hit out over personal attacks made by Father Matthew Despard in a best-selling book that claimed gay bullies in the priesthood were damaging the Catholic Church.
But the book also contains claims about sex scandals in a choir that have prompted Laura and other women to complain to the Church hierarchy.
Despard, 48, claimed an unnamed woman led a church choir where several married members were having affairs.
He alleged the choir mistress turned a blind eye and even attempted to cover up the scandal.
In his book, Priesthood in Crisis, he refers to the woman as Mrs X but Laura claims other details make it clear that the claims are about her.
It states that Mrs X leads Ogilvie Community Choir, who sing at St John Ogilvie’s in High Blantyre, Lanarkshire, where Despard is the parish priest.
The book also identified Laura from her role on a local parent teacher association and printed excerpts of a letter she wrote to the diocese.
Mum-of-two Laura says her life has been turned upside down by the vicious claims made about her, including allegations that she also had an extra-marital fling.
Original article from the Daily Record may be found here.


Lawrence and Susan Fox said...

LOL, she must have been the one who outed herself since Father called her Mrs. X.

But I read this part of the book, and this is where I got bored. Sorry. God bless you. Susan Fox

Anonymous said...

In a small church it was glaringly obvious who Mrs X was from her job and positions within the church and local community featured in the book.

The priest was a nutter who accused everyone in the choir of affairs, sacked his housekeeper, an elederly woman who he accused of all sorts.
In every setting he has been in men and priests made sexual advances upon him. He is either super attractive and a bit of a catch or am I missing something?
Or a liar.
100% positive it is the second.

paul sweeney said...

Anonymous you are missing something.........Fr.Matthew is and will always be a truthful who is shining GODS light into this darkness. May god bless and guide him as I know he will be.

Anonymous said...

yeah nice try anonymous--- trying to cloud the truth

advances were made to Father Despard in all of his settings not because he is super attractive as you have sarcastically stated but because he is the victim of a conspiracy by all of them at all levels to have him discredited and removed because he is a true and faithful servant of Jesus Christ and they are all wicked and false