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.
In a letter to Sr Rosetta, he outlined some of his observations and recommendations. He said that: ... overall there has been constructive valuable improvement in the residential child care policy that is showing results in the elements of human relations and child development.
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 Rosetta was Resident Manager of Cappoquin for two years in the 1970s, and she appointed Sr Callida as her successor. Sr Callida was a young Sister who had worked in the group home for some years prior to her appointment. She had completed the childcare course in Kilkenny in the mid-1970s, and was a secondary school teacher by profession. She was, in short, an ideal candidate to take up the position of Resident Manager, and appeared to have all the attributes necessary to make a success of the job. However, there were fundamental flaws to her character that caused major problems in the School: she was not a good manager/administrator, and she had very poor communication skills. These flaws were exacerbated by her relationships with two members of the Community that prevented proper monitoring of her behaviour and a long-standing problem of alcohol dependency.
Sr Rosetta identified Sr Callida’s drinking problem as dating to an incident in which one of her residents was killed in an accident on his first day at work. He was 16 years old at the time, and his death had a severe impact on Sr Callida. Other Sisters who gave evidence to the Committee have also traced her alcohol dependency to this event that occurred in the late 1970s: It was the first of drinking that I heard was that the older boys who came back and knew him in St Michael’s and stayed in the group home, I heard there was drink flowing, but I couldn’t do much about it at that sensitive time. Seemingly it must have gone on from there, that was [the late 1970s], I don’t know which. I think that made an awful change in her life. Maybe I didn’t give her enough attention to help her over that or whatever. It was only looking back on it maybe I should have. The drink story went on from there.
Sr Rosetta confirmed that other members of the Community shared her concerns at Sr Callida’s drinking. Members of the public also voiced their concern: ‘Yes. Well, there was other people outside told us too about it’.
Until the early 1980s, Sr Rosetta continued as Superior in the convent in Cappoquin and did nothing to address the issue of Sr Callida’s behaviour, other than, in the late 1970s, to appoint a fellow Sister, Sr Melita,17 as a ‘companion’ to encourage her to interact more fully with the Community in the convent. Unfortunately, Sr Melita’s ability to alert her superiors as to the seriousness of Sr Callida’s mismanagement of Group Home A was compromised when they developed a close intimate relationship. Sr Melita remained in Cappoquin until the mid-1980s, when she was transferred.
Sr Rosetta was then replaced by Sr Leola,18 who let matters deteriorate even further.