Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, February 12, 2016

His Priestly Vows of Compassion and Celibacy

"At the time I was in the monastery I was pretty much a broken man. Psychologically, emotionally, spiritually. I have no recollection what I may have told you at the time. And I am telling you this evening that I am not the man who killed Irene Garza."
John Feit, former priest, writing to former spiritual counsellor, Dale Tacheny

"[Feit said:] The church protected me, the people in my church, my superiors, protected me."
"I believe he killed her [Irene Garza, 56 years earlier]. I had no doubt about it because he said he did."
Dale Tacheny, former Oklahoma City priest
Feit was 27 when he became the prime suspect in Garza's death (top, in 1961). He was arrested earlier this week (bottom), after a grand jury chose to indict him

Not only did the then-young John Feit, at 27 years of age a new priest at the Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas inform Mr. Tacheny who was at the time Fr. Feit's spiritual counsellor at a monastery, he also described the incredible actions he had taken in destroying a life to Rev. Joseph O'Brien, assistant pastor who worked alongside Mr. Feit at Sacred Heart.

The young woman in question was a schoolteacher who had been crowned Miss All South Texas Sweetheart. She taught disadvantaged children in her home town after graduating from college, and she was a devout Roman Catholic. One day, the 35-year-old went to confession and from there she never went anywhere else again, of her own volition.

After her horribly bruised body was discovered lying in a canal, an autopsy concluded that she had been raped while comatose. No incriminating evidence was found on her corpse, it had been washed clean by the length of time she had been there, decomposition well established. There was, mind, a few things that might have led a suspicious mind to identifying the priest as her killer.

A Kodak slide photo viewer was discovered next to Ms. Garza's body, and it had belonged to the priest who also was seen to have cuts on his hands looking suspiciously like fingernail scratches. However, he informed investigators that he was innocent of anything to do with the unfortunate death. And although whispers went the rounds since he was the last person to see the young woman, people were conflicted.

This was a priest, after all, a man who had dedicated his life to god. He was never charged. Now, at the age of 83, having long left the priesthood and settled in Phoenix, Arizona, he had married, had children and volunteered regularly at his local church. And it is now that he has been taken into custody on the basis of new evidence in the form of the confession he had made to the other two priests.

He described to them how he had sexually assaulted the young women. He had bound, gagged and fondled her, the despicable acts taking place in the rectory. Then he placed something over her head, put her in a bathtub, witnessed her troubled breathing and waited for her to die. When she could no longer identify him, he took her corpse and unceremoniously dumped it near the canal.

It took a week, but a high-heeled shoe, a patent leather handbag, and a piece of crumpled white lace were discovered. And then the corpse that was once a vibrant young woman who believed in justice and doing good, and her Catholic religion, and by extension her church was found as well.

It grates on one's sense of the fitness of things that a priest consecrated to the church and to god could possibly commit such an atrocity. Worse, it is even more astonishing that the two men to whom he confessed effectively shielded him from detection, as the perpetrator of such a vile crime.

He had the opportunity to live a normal life, to leave the church, to find a marriage partner, to know the joys and sorrows of raising a family, to welcome grandchildren into his life. A life his crime denied to a young woman far more deserving of normalcy and satisfaction in life than the psychopath who had destroyed her.

Garza was last seen heading to confession with Feit the day before Easter in 1960. Her body was later found face down in a canal having been raped and strangled
Garza was last seen heading to confession with Feit the day before Easter in 1960. Her body was later found face down in a canal having been raped and strangled

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