Canberra school holds ceremony to apologise to abuse victims

Ceremony held last night

Marist College in Canberra has held a service apologising to past students who suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of staff at the Catholic school. The ABC reports.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard that several Brothers at the all-boys school had abused students in the 1970s and 1980s.

Other abuse allegations date back decades further.

Last night the school held a liturgy attended by about 200 people, apologising to students, and holding prayer in hope of healing the damage caused.

Current headmaster Richard Sidorko apologised for the abuse, along with Marist's response to allegations. "Terrible things happened in a place which should have protected those boys," he said.

"The responses by leaders and those in charge at the time when told of the abuse were unsatisfactory and brought pain and shame and suffering.

"I apologise for the sexual abuses which took place here. I apologise that the College did not respond appropriately when those abuses were made known, and I apologise for the pain, hurt and suffering experienced by the victims and their families."

A plaque dedicated to the victims of abuse at the school was also unveiled as a permanent memorial.

Provincial of the Marist Brothers at the school, Brother Peter Carroll, said the school had failed in its care of students.

"We acknowledge the many innocent victims: The survivors and their families, the current community of students, staff, and parents," he said.

"That sexual and physical abuse occurred is a source of shame to us all."

Photo: Marist college healing ceremony to apologise to victims of child abuse (Elesa Kurtz)

FULL COVERAGE

Canberra's Marist College apologises for sexual abuse of students by staff (ABC)

Marist College pledges 'never again,' apologies for abuse, betrayal of trust at healing ceremony (The Canberra Times)