The owners of the Morning Star boutique hotel and restaurant in Mount Eliza ought to be aware of its gruesome and violent past.
This establishment, now publicised as a boutique hotel, was once a place for torture and gross sexual abuse by the Catholic Church . Many boys tried to end their lives in this establishment which was famous for the sexual abuse of young men.
I am about to give evidence at the royal commission into child sexual abuse.
In 1966 I spent 12 months in the “ care of the Franciscan order” the original owners of the property now known as Morning Star Boutique Hotel and Restaurant
During that time I along with 50 to 60 young boys were subjected to horrific acts of sexual and physical abuse.
Acts of self harm
Acts of self harm among the boys were common in order to escape the brutal treatment inflicted secretly in the cells or dormitories which form the basis of the accommodation now marketed as a boutique experience.
Young boys attempting suicide on the premises was a common practice.
Young boys inflicting self harm to escape the sexual predators that were the priests and brothers that ran Morning Star boys home is now legendary.
Boys working in the searing heat of summer were subjected to working in the garden for up to 8 hours at a time and being beaten if we tried to straightened our back or sought redress from the hot sun.
Blisters became poisoned from the pitch forks, no first aid, only the mantra of no pain-no gain!
Tell a young man severely sunburnt and puss oozing from his hands from blisters that it was all in god’s name.
Some young boys even put pitch forks through their gumboots into their feet to escape the merciless conditions.
I personally used to cut my arms with a razor blade and I would then grind down the lead from a pencil and rub it into the wound. Lead poisoning !!
Ask why, and I will tell you that if my arms got so infected the priests would have to take me to the local hospital and away from their clutches for even a few days. If I was admitted!
The last thing they wanted was for a young boy to be left in a caring environment to tell our stories of abuse. A jab of penicillin, and back to the pain and torture of the priests. Back into the mini van straight back to Satan Central now hoping the penicillin would work .
No time off. Maybe next time!
Young working class boys from disadvantaged backgrounds were subjected to a legal system offering no hope of rehabilitation only punishment, and sexual gratification for those in charge of the institution known as Morning Star boys home.
Boys that were subjected to this abuse went on, not to lead productive lives but, in most cases, the pain drove them to horrific lives of alcohol and drug abuse. Some even went on to replicate the sexual abuse on others.
The horror and pain that these boys were subjected to within these walls will live with every young boy until the day they die, old men . If then .
If only these walls could talk
If only these walls could talk, they would hear the screams of boys pleading for their lives,frightened scared and lonely without support, except the cries of other boys in the cells beside them.
While my mates were being sexually abused I was being severely physically assaulted . I have always harboured the guilt that as a 14 year old I didn’t help my mates from the sexual abuse they encountered
I have finally realised that I carry no guilt .That is reserved for the Catholic Church and its abusers .
The converted cells or dormitories of this boutique hotel were originally the rooms where boys were not only shackled by their religion but shackled to their beds for the sexual gratification of the Catholic priests
Boys in the formative years of their lives were subjected to such unspeakable crimes by a system that didn’t care about about their upbringing or their life circumstances.
These boys were fodder for a corrupt system that is now recognised as a collusion between the church, the police and the legal system.
I committed crimes as a young boy but I never expected those charged with my rehabilitation would be allowed to perpetrate even more heinous crimes against me.
The Catholic Church was entrusted to save my soul, not savage it !
When , or if, you visit Morning Star Hotel, in Mount Eliza, keep keep your ears and eyes open in memory of the tortured young men that may still roam the corridors or haunt the cells on a cold winters day.
I only know it as a hell hole.
Mark Dixon says
I was at Morning Star from 1972 through 1973. I have to admit that I was a bastard of a kid and as such, sentenced to three years YTC which was about the max at the time I believe. You know it’s strange, I’m almost 60 years now and the old memory is taking a bit of a battering, but I remember everything that happened in that place like it was yesterday. or even this afternoon. I was lucky in a funny convoluted way in that I was a reasonable sportsman, mainly playing aussie rules and particularly handball which most of the brothers and fathers played. Because of this I had a somewhat “easier”time of it with some individuals. Not so lucky my good friend Dave D. he survived his time at the home, but not so long after I’m sad to say. you could say similar in my case, I travelled with Dave for alittle around the country, never settling. WA, Darwin for Cyclone Tracy and eventually Sydney in 1977. Anywhere but Melbourne it seems. Dave went back later that year and not long after I believe he suicided. It wasn’t difficult for me to put a reason to it. As for me, I became a chronic heroin abuser and late 77 I was sentenced to 32 years in prison for armed robberies. I served 21 years and was finally released in 1998. Without going into it at this stage, things have certainly improved for me. But the thoughts and pictures and particularly the people remain to this day,strong as ever and crystal clear like a movie, over and over. On the whole, as Fr Bernard constantly told me. For a kid educated at Saint Dominics primary followed by St Bernards college under the care of the venerable Christian Brothers, I turned out to be not one of their better products. Living my early life under the Christian umbrella didn’t pay off for me I guess. I just wish I could of explained to my family before it was too late. Alas I am still estranged from the few members remaining. I’ve not mentioned or discussed these things with anybody, but if it can help somebody now, even myself, then I think It’s about time! I have surprised myself to say the least, but then again I havn’t posted it yet??!!
Barry known as Ray then says
I was at Morning Star Boys home for 7 months in 1970.
Having poor eyesight and discovering I was fostered sent me off the rails thinking I was hard done by.
When arriving at Star I soon realized my life was wonderful after seeing what the depraved Franciscan order dished out to young boys.
Boys were raped and beaten almost daily.
I intercepted a fair few of these sick individuals on their way to commit their evil acts.One was easy to stand up to but they would come as a group and take revenge.
They would hold me down on my bed and beat the bottom of my feet-run a flame from a lighter on the souls of my feet-slap my chest with their hands-then thought it funny to hold my nose and poor water in my mouth.They used this system because I had visitors .I never spoke of this to my parents.
I have mentioned just a few of the crimes these people committed.
Sorry to all the guys who had to go through this.Wish I could have done more.Do understand why life was never the same again.
The comments by Wayne at the Royal Commission suddenly brought back memories I had buried.What a shock it was and to break down in my wife’s arms and then explain was not very comfortable.
Bill Tennant says
I was in morningstar in the late 60s and I never got a hiding I did not deserve, the work was hard ,the food was good, and the beds were clean and dry / The TV was not to good I spent most of the TV time behind it which is where you sat if you misbehaved
denis bennett says
I turned 14 in 1961whilst at morning star,whilst i never had to endure any sexual abuse the nighty whipping in my cell whilst on bended knee praying[ha] certainly did not put religion on my priority list,if there is a heaven i hope brother bernard is not there.
Over the years i have wondered how other boys fared and how they came out the other side when i remember my friends through that period.archie butler, john morrison,sammy thomas, ray chuck, all dead now,WHO FAILED WHO.
Dont forget Patrick you can always be pointed in the right direction for organisations to help you .keep in touch
Patrick get in touch with CLAN. An organisation that will gain the records of the time you were at morning star . I have joined the organisation and the CEO Leonie Sheedy gained all my records a fascinating disclosure of why I was there ,all my criminal records medical reports etc . Patrick if you can ring me on 0417 366954 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will contact you
Thanks for you reply Maria yes I was there in 1966 and I would be pleased to speak to your brother or you . The Morning Star boys home was a hell hole and a lesson to all about how young men were abused in those times . Thankfully those days are over and soon the truth will come out . You can contact me on e- mail email@example.com or mobile 0417 366854
Maria Smith says
Around 1960 my brother went into the Morning Star Boys Home. He had not committed a crime however from what I gather my parents were strict Catholics and the Church may have offered their services as they were family friends on my mothers side (her parents). (They migrated from Holland and so did the priest whom worked with the migrants settling here in Australia after the war). By that I mean in the earlier days it was referred to as “Boarding School” and I would have thought that he went there to learn a Trade. I believe my father paid to have him in this place and I could not understand why he had to be taken from his home.
I remember one day my father going absolutely berserk with anger and outrage as he was home for the weekend and I believe he divulged to my father that whilst on a camping trip in a tent an officer/person in charge had molested him. My father telephoned a person (unknown to me) and then went out. My brother was taken back there however I have never known him to speak of the Morning Star Boys Home to a living soul. What happened around the early 60’s in there is a mystery to me. He is 60 this year and if there is anyone else that was there during this period I would appreciate if some light could be shed on what this “place stood for” and if in fact it was run by the Franciscan’s at that time also ?
To you Denis, reading your story I acknowledge what you are saying and I totally agree with your comment “fine dining” etc., where are the morals ? where is the accountability ? It is as if they are trying to pretend “it never happened”. The picture of “INNOCENCE”. The mighty Dollar has taken care of that a cover up. I would think the most appropriate step taken by the Church was to make it a “Memorial” where people could go and grieve and show some respect for all the terrible acts imposed on innocent young boys at that time as so many lives were touched by the workings of Satan !
patrick osullivan says
i was in morning star in 1972/73 i have major issues to resolve and am trying to get information/records/any and all info on morning star at that time its interesting to note that the brothers and fathers were never refered to by a family name it was brother this, father that, i cant remember ever hearing a last name even the names they went by were chosen from the bible,in anybody else,s language thats an alias.Extremley hard to identify an attacker fourty years later when you never knew their real name to start with!