At Trinity University, the college I attended, all freshmen were required to take a class
called Freshman Seminar. The idea was to teach a variety
of things, including writing, analysis, critical thinking, and
I don't remember all the books we read, but one I do
remember is Hannah Arendt's Eichman in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.
What struck me about that book was just that.
The banality of evil.
How it can be done by people who think they are
just doing their job.
By people who are just doing what they are told.
Deacon Phil Hengen
Deacon Phil Hengen is a psychologist and the Director of the
Office of Child and Youth Protection, which makes him the
Archdiocese of St. Louis' point man when it comes to handling
complaints of abuse. He was the person
who returned my call when I called in (again) with my description
of what had happened between Fr. Valentine and me. He also set up
the May 9, 2011 meeting
with the Review Team.
The only thing that came about as a result of my
May 9, 2011
meeting with the Review Team that was close to a reaction,
interpretation, or diagnosis was what Deacon
Phil Hengen said and did.
As the meeting concluded, he wrote the name of a book on the
back of his card and gave it to me. The name of the book
Man Enough by Frank Pittman. He handed me his card
and told me.
You should read this book. I think it will help you.
By telling me to read Man Enough, Deacon Hengen was
implicitly telling me that the problems I was having
weren't due to what had happened between Fr. Valentine and me.
Because nothing happened.
Instead, my problems working with and for older men were due to
I immediately purchased the book. However, the more I read
it, the more confused I became.
In sum, Man Enough makes the case that men who grow
up without a strong male presence tend to turn into one of three
types of hyper-masculine men: philanderers, controllers, and
competitors. The problem was that I wasn't ANY of those three
types of men. In fact, over the years I had come to know enough
of those types of men to wonder why I wasn't more like them.
Assuming that there had to be some truth to what Deacon
Hengen -- a trained psychologist and MSW -- saw, and a reason
why he recommended the book, I re-read the beginning of it over
again. And over again. And over again. I re-read it countless times. However, every time I
would get 30 or so pages into the book and then start again at
the beginning because what I was reading wasn't me. Assuming I
missed something, I would then start re-reading the book from
To this day, I don't know whether Deacon Phil Hengen gave me
Man Enough in
good faith or whether it was meant to be a red herring; to
distract me stop me from following the evidence. However,
regardless of the intent, that is exactly what happened.
Reading Man Enough sowed seeds of doubt and
confusion that persist to this day.
While I was reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading Man
Enough, I was also trying to get Deacon Phil Hengen to help
me get help from the archdiocese to paying for the therapy that
I was undergoing. Ultimately, those efforts
amounted to nothing. When I expressed frustration to one of my
(multiple) psychologists (who I was paying out of my own pocket),
he told me bluntly...
In 20 years of doing this, I've never had someone, who truly wanted to get in
touch with me, fail to get in touch with me.
As a result of my interactions with Deacon Phil Hengen, my
trust issues are worse, not better.
My trust issues were first triggered by the presence of not
one but two lawyers at the May 9, 2011 meeting, something that
was against the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Pastoral Policy. They
were then magnified by Deacon Hengen giving me the book Man
Enough -- which confused me terribly, because it didn't describe me at all
-- and never giving me another diagnosis.
After the May 9, 2011 meeting, things didn't get any better.
It didn't help that I was never put in touch with an Assistance
Coordinator, if such a person in fact exists. In general, Deacon
Hengen never offered or acted to drive the process and, unlike
Timothy Dolan, never offered to pay for my counseling.
Instead, while he mentioned a Treatment Plan on a couple of
occasions, he expected me to pay for its creation, which I
simply couldn't afford to do.
The final nail in the coffin was when I told
Richard Hanneke about the problems with Deacon Phil Hengen.
While he initially seemed sympathetic, Monsignor Hanneke was
ice-cold during our second meeting and told me I had to go
through Deacon Hengen, a man who he knew -- because I told him
multiple times -- that I didn't trust.
I'm hugely triggered just writing this piece. I'm getting
Hot. Which is why I had a hard time communicating with Deacon
Hengen and why I needed him to drive the process. That's also
why I went to Monsignor Richard Hanneke to explain the problem;
how I felt like Deacon Hengen was stonewalling.
That's also why it took so long for me to come forward,
creating a problem with the statute of limitations.
All of this leaves me convinced that what I experienced
screw-up, it was a strategy.
Distrust OF PSYCHOLOGISTS
And what's the result of all of this?
I have developed an even deeper distrust of people in general
and psychologists in particular. Deacon Hengen's never
contacting my psychologist D damaged our relationship.
At least that's not an issue because I don't have the money
to get help, if I could stand to.