'Lighthouse' a Safe Haven for Victims of Priest Sex Abuse
By Robin Washington
Boston Herald [Boston MA]
May 13, 2003
After more than a year of protesting the Catholic Church over the clergy sexual abuse scandal, Taunton's Phil de Albuquerque has taken his activism indoors.
The venue, however, is not the Cathedral of the Holy Cross or other churches where he continues to demonstrate, but a small East Boston storefront he hopes will offer rescue and comfort for victims of clergy abuse.
"It actually came to me in a dream. I woke up one morning and said to my wife, "I know what we need to do," " he said.
That vision has been realized as The Lighthouse, a nondenominational resource center that opened its doors last week and is the nation's only drop-in center for victims of clergy sexual abuse.
"Victims need a place where they can feel support, they can feel validated, they can feel loved. They're not getting that anywhere," said de Albuquerque, 42, who got the idea in early March.
Two weeks later, he signed the lease on the Orient Heights storefront, chosen for its proximity to the T and other services.
Lauren de Albuquerque said initially her husband was unsure how she would react.
"He expected me to say, "Oh, please. You're crazy." And instead I said, "That's fantastic. When do we start?" " she said, adding she agreed to sell their Providence rental property to provide $15,000 in rent for the first two years. They hope donations will keep it going permanently.
Since March, it has been renovated by volunteers, including Skip Harrington, an alleged victim who said he was searching for such a refuge when the scandal exploded last year.
"When all of this broke, I needed a safe place myself and I rented a little beach house in Winthrop," he said. "As victim survivors, we are so grateful for Phil and Lauren. We've never had a place like this. The church in the last year and a half has said they want to help the victims. Well, they haven't."
Susan Archibald, national president of The Linkup, a clergy sexual abuse survivors group, said she hopes The Lighthouse will be replicated throughout the country.
"There are treatment centers and places for (abuser) priests to go," she said, " but what Phil has done is something that's really needed. That's having a place of your own."
The Lighthouse, 977 Bennington, (TheLighthouse77@aol.com) is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Tuesday evenings. Phone (617) 567-7575 or out of state (877) LIGHT-22.
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