What is Hidden

 Do not let them intimidate you.  Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed and nothing hidden that will not become known.  MT 10:26


What is Hidden is a novel that enters the storm of the clerical sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and moves through the betrayal, confusion, denial, secrets and harm generated by the sexual abuse of a nine year old boy at the hands of his priest.


The story is set in 1997 when Tyler Kelvey,  a new resident at a shelter for homeless men, visits his former eighth grade teacher and discloses for the first time that he was sexually molested by a parish priest when he was a altar boy at Sacred Heart parish.  His life was shredded by the three years of sexual assault he endured at the hands of Father Mervin Kominsky and his family ties are all but severed. Estranged from his now divorced parents, Tyler still has sporadic contact with his sister Chloe.  There is a bond between them but Chloe, who works in one of the offices of the Archdiocese, is afraid to hope that her brother can recover from his addictions.   She is reluctant to get too close.


After talking with his teacher, Tyler discloses what happened to Brother Ed Santavito, his case manager at the men’s shelter.  A mid-westerner transplanted to Philadelphia by his religious order, Brother Ed doesn’t know Father Kominsky, but he does know that Tyler’s multiple addictions and crippling immaturity could certainly to traced to the havoc wreaked by childhood rape.


Tyler’s disclosure finds its way to a staff meeting at Sacred Heart parish and from there to the office of the Vicar General of the Archdiocese, Msgr. Christopher Alvarez.  Msgr. Alvarez has encountered these kinds of allegations before and is anxious to contain the fall-out.   The pastor of Sacred Heart, Msgr. Charlie Schneider is not entirely receptive to Msgr. Alvarez’s requirement of a signed oath of secrecy for all who heard the allegation in the staff meeting.  Msgr. Schneider has also heard prior allegations against Father Kominsky.


Msgr. Schneider tracks Tyler down at the shelter and joins forces with Brother Ed to support the young man through the process of filing a complaint with the Archdiocese against Father Kominsky.  Through their quest the reader is drawn into the sphere of clerical culture: that mix of formality, idealism, deference, constraint, secrets and self-preservation so deeply delineated in the response of the Catholic hierarchy to the scandal. Tyler’s advocates are forced to navigate through a tangle of agents and elements that includes a narcissistic predator,  a wounded family, a defensive archbishop and fatalistic acquiescence regarding the wide ranging repercussions of the sexual abuse of children at the hands of Catholic priests.  With Tyler and Chloe, we encounter the discord deflecting, uncomprehending, impatient clerics whose efforts to preserve the Church’s reputation are at odds with their growing recognition of a situation beyond their competence.  This clerically dominated church is a maze of compartmentalized thinking, ruinous secrets and paralyzing fear. 


 What is Hidden is a look at demons that are still at large, an inconclusive story, still being written in survivors’ groups, state legislatures, chancery offices, courts and newspapers. 

What is Hidden is being serialized on this site.   Each week a new chapter will be added to the site. 

Comments can be sent to mdivinney@gmail.com.

Subpages (1): Chapter One