In the late 1970s, the Resident Manager, Sr Rosetta,6 notified the Department that she had appointed Sr Callida,7 then House Parent in Group Home A, to be her deputy.
He went on to praise the contributions of the three Sisters who had taken charge of the three group homes: The influence of Sisters [Isabella], [Eloisa]8 and [Callida] is to be commended within the group homes. And consequently their direction and evidence of the care staff is meaningful.
Later that year, Sr Rosetta formally advised Mr Granville that, owing to extreme pressure of work both at school and community level, she had to resign as Resident Manager, and appointed Sr Callida in her place and Ms Noonan9 as co-ordinator from that date.
Sr Callida had been in charge of Group Home A since it was first set up in 1975, when she began with 17 children in care. She had no staff initially and was told to recruit her own team.
Mr Granville did not immediately appreciate the problems that were developing following Sr Callida’s appointment. Sr Callida appeared to perform her duties as Resident Manager well and took a particular interest in the children’s education.
Mr Granville carried out a General Inspection in the early 1980s. He noted that there had been staff problems but he did not specify what they were. He said that he had discussed them with the people concerned, and he attributed them to the inexperience of Sr Callida, the Resident Manager.
He also recommended that a deputy be appointed to cover periods when Sr Callida was absent.
An abbreviated version of the same letter was sent to Sr Callida, Resident Manager, with a number of suggestions, including delegation of full responsibility to Sr Isabella during her absences and the holding of regular staff meetings to build up communication.
At around this time, however, staff in Group Home A, the group home managed by Sr Callida, were becoming increasingly alarmed at how the house was being run.
Evidence was given by three lay staff members who worked in the homes under Sr Callida’s management and two of whom made complaints at the time.
Ms Linehan10 worked in Group Home A from the early to late 1980s. She began work immediately after leaving school as a carer and, after a few years, was appointed as House Parent in Group Home A where Sr Callida was Resident Manager.
She said that, although the children in Group Home A were well provided for materially, and ‘all their basic needs were met’, they were not cared for emotionally. She said they were afraid of Sr Callida, and that she herself had witnessed a child with marks on her leg as a result of a beating from Sr Callida: ‘It was the first time I had seen marks on a child there. And it was a shock and it was a surprise to me’.
Although that was the only time she had seen evidence of Sr Callida’s treatment of the children, ‘There was other times when kids said that she did hit but I was never there and I never heard’.
Ms Linehan said that at the time she did not feel she was in a position to question the way Sr Callida managed the home. She said there was a regime in place that she could not question, although she would have disagreed with aspects of it: ‘A lot of the time I would be afraid to speak out ... I was afraid to lose my job maybe’.
Although she accepted that it was a different era and childcare practices were different, she believed the regime was unnecessarily hard: Looking back on it. But I think sometimes Callida could have made it a little bit easier for the children to be in care, because being in care was hard enough, being there without your parents, and then having somebody sometimes so strict on you, I think was hard.