By: LARRY SITES
Re: Family values Xtan style
Robert O'Brien's Story.
Excerpt from "Editor's Notes" from Freethought Today,
Newspaper of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The unforgettable story of Robert O'Brien and the hunt for
his past fits no category, but begs to be shared, however
belatedly. The Omaha World Herald of July 1, 1992, reported
that this man, told he was a Sioux Indian by the Benedictine
nuns who raised him, finally found out who his mother was.
An anonymous nun. He also found a tribe of relatives after
learning that his father was a married tribal officer on the
Elbowoods Reservation in North Dakota, where his mother the
nun had worked.
He was born Robert Gdanietz on Feb. 28, 1931. His name was
deliberately changed to camouflage his identity before
placement in a Catholic orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota, at
the age of 2. He was never adopted but went to live, at age
11, with a couple who treated him like farm help. He had a
family and successful career. In 1991 he impulsively asked
for his records from Catholic Social Services during a visit
to St. Paul. His continuing search revealed that his father
Arthur Mandan was a college graduate, writer, interpreter
and politician who had narrowly lost a bid for the U.S.
Senate. He even found a picture of his look-alike dad
meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt. He met his 3
half-sisters and a brother, and tragically learned that an
older married sister had been refused the right when she
tried to adopt him. The Catholic diocese was pleased to let
the embarrassing reminder of a nun's "fall" drift in limbo,
familyless. In order to learn his mother's whereabouts, he
was told by Catholic Charities of St. Paul to cough up $800.
In December, 1992, the World Herald ran a follow-up story.
Robert O'Brien hired an adoption activist for $180 to find
out what had happened to the unnamed Benedictine nun. Marie
Gdanietz was found quickly, at age 85, living in St. Paul.
They had several reunions, and gradually she revealed her
painful story. She was 24 when she gave birth. She was told
her son had been placed in a loving home. Ironically, he
grew up in the same orphanage where she had been raised
following the death of her own mother 20 years earlier. The
religious order wanted Ms. Gdanietz declared "mentally
feeble." She passed the competency test but somehow lost her
freedom anyway. She was committed to a state institution,
was sterilized against her will and several years later won
her release. She was never given the letters Arthur Mandan
wrote her in care of the church. She married in 1937, never
revealing her story to anyone but her husband out of fear of
"She believes the people who did this to her have unlimited
power," her son told the newspaper. "She actually looks over
her shoulder when she tells you these things as if they are
Who could blame her? Most of these stories are, after all,
The Catholic Church certainly has a lot to answer for!
The writer is editor of Freethought Today and a staff member
of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Just "caring, loving" Christians doin' what comes naturally
|| END OF ISSUE ||
Once again: ISSN: 1201-0111 The Nullifidian Volume Two,
Number 1: MAR 1995.
Autumn wind: Where there are humans Greg Erwin, pres., Humanist
gods, Buddha-- you'll find flies, Association of Ottawa
lies, lies, lies and Buddhas. firstname.lastname@example.org
--Shiki --Issa email@example.com
[How many lives were blessed by suckering Ms. Gdanietz into accepting
religion when she was too young to grasp it's implications? At least
there will be more people in heaven, eh. Larry]