I received the invitation to my high school reunion about a week ago. I knew it was coming, I had talked to a classmate organizing it on the phone a few weeks ago. I had also had conversations with a friend who is going, I was encouraged to go along. Notre Dame High School Class of 1978 will be meeting on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of our graduation in May.
It has been about 10 years since I saw some of my classmates. During the intervening years since our 25th reunion a lot has changed. In that time span I came forward with my information on Father Gibson. I am a little apprehensive about what may await my return. Since I became a reluctant activist, mostly due to the continued lies and concealment of predators by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, I have brought to light the dirty secrets about Father Gibson that the Diocese of Scranton has long hoped would remain undisclosed. Several of my classmates have had this man baptise children, he has officiated at some of their weddings. Their memories of the man may be significantly different from my own. Then again, there were others, perhaps in my class or the classes that came before ours at Notre Dame that share the a similar great terrible secret as my own.
I do not have many personal items that date back to my time in Northeast Pennsylvania. The 1978 yearbook is long gone, as was my high school ring, lost on one of the many Navy moves over the years. Remarkably, my diploma turned up, in pristine condition, in a box in my parent’s home in Massachusetts after three or four moves of their own. Some thirty-five years later it is finally in a frame alongside some other items from my curriculum vitae. A few photos were also in that box, including one from an 8th grade drama production that has since made an appearance on Facebook after I sent a scanned copy to a friend.
The last time I was in East Stroudsburg was in 2008 to speak to the District Attorney for Monroe County. My name and statement was added to an existing file of complaints that were outside of the statutes of limitation. I spent one night in town and left as soon as the interview was concluded. I had no illusions that anyone would have recognized me. My family had left the area by the early 1980’s. I had cut ties with just about everyone I had known in the area and decided to leave Pennsylvania, forego entering law school, and make a clean and permanent break. During that 2008 visit I did drive around to look at once familiar places, noting the changes that 30 years had brought. With the exception of driving around the towns of Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, including going up the hill on Highland Road, I really have not spent any significant time in the area. Funny, the school’s address is on Spangenburg Avenue but I don’t think I ever used that road even once in the 5 years I was a student at NDHS.
I have had contact with some members of my high school graduating class or the classes with which my siblings attended NDHS in the past few years. A few emails and phone calls came in the wake of the discovery of my blog or finding the article that appeared in the Scranton Times in 2008. Most of the contacts have been positive, a few have been a little more confrontational. I am curious, perhaps a little apprehensive, about what, if any, reaction will await me at the reunion.