Forgiveness has been a cornerstone in my healing, and my healing from abuse has freed me to do things I never thought I would do.
I never thought I would be speaking at my father’s funeral, whom I was estranged from for 30 years. I was afraid of my father as a child. He had 4 girls to raise alone, and carried a great deal of stress caring for my mother who was in and out of the hospital with schizophrenia. He worked full time at Ford’s and at the same time was running a mushroom farm, which ended up in bankruptcy. I was just a scared little girl with no loving parental figures in my life. Looking back now at all the stress my father was
under, I sincerely believe he did the best he could. With time, I have come to forgive my father for all the abuse I endured for the first 20 years of my life—until I moved out and got married.
Forgiving a person who hurt you takes a lot of courage and strength. It is not something we can do alone. What helped me be able to forgive my father and the priest who abused me was strength that came from praying to God. Jesus was humiliated, suffered and died on the Cross to cover the sins of the world. We never deserved His sacrifice, yet He willingly did it for us out of love. If Jesus did this for us, then It is crucial for us to be merciful and forgiving to those who wounded us, no matter how difficult it is. Jesus asks us to pray for those who wounded us. He asks us to forgive those who trespass against us if we want forgiveness and mercy. He is willing to help us carry our burdens. He helped me forgive my father. I could not have done that alone.
The way of healing is forgiveness. If we pray for those who hurt us, then it is a little easier for us to be merciful and forgiving. So, I pray for my father to have peace, and I have been able, over time, to forgive him. Now, instead of unresolved negative feelings weighing heavily on my heart, I feel free to hope sincerely he can be in heaven with my mother. In a similar way, I came to forgive the priest who hurt me as a teen. I ask the Lord to have mercy for those who have hurt me in my life. I have faith that, if we ask God to have mercy and forgive those who hurt us, they will receive God’s mercy and forgiveness.
It was very difficult speaking at my father’s funeral because, as an estranged daughter, I did not feel I had the right to speak at the funeral. Yet I did it because my niece invited me—and God helped me. I always loved my father and thought about him over the years, even though I was afraid of him. It was good to speak of him with a clear heart and forgiveness. God rest his soul.
Deborah Kloos, RN. BScN, is a resident of Windsor, Ontario, and a survivor of child abuse by clergy. She works as a nurse in the neo-natal ward of Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit who cares for sick babies born to crack-addicted mothers. Over the years, Mrs. Kloos has made rosaries and dedicated prayers and Masses for each member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She initiated and promoted the idea of a day of prayer for people wounded by abuse which was ultimately adopted by Pope Francis. A piece of artwork by Mrs. Kloos was presented to Pope Francis by Marie Collins, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Rev. Hans Zollner, who is the chairman of the steering committee for the Center for Child Protection of the Institute of Psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University it Rome. Mrs. Kloos is married and a mother who sings in the choir of her parish. Mrs. Kloos’s belief in the healing role of prayer has been covered in the Windsor Star and the National Catholic Register. Mrs. Kloos contributed to the Round Table discussion on the resignation of Marie Collins from the Pontifical Commission.
This article was first published in the May 2017 issue, which may be viewed in full here.