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It was during this time that McGuire first met Mother Teresa. Fessio said he introduced the pair after the nun had asked him during a visit to San Francisco to recommend a priest who could lead retreats for the nuns of her order. Despite the two men's prickly relationship while academic colleagues in the late 1970s, Fessio suggested she seek out McGuire.
From the beginning, Fessio said, Mother Teresa's opinion of McGuire was "very high." Though he was probably not — as he liked to boast — her most esteemed spiritual adviser and confessor, observers of the pair agree that she respected McGuire, and would occasionally confess her sins to him.
Judie Hockel and her husband, Jack, often hosted McGuire's retreats in Northern California at their Walnut Creek home. The couple met him through their oldest son, who was a student at USF during McGuire's time there. (On his subsequent trips to the Bay Area, McGuire often stayed at a house attached to a Carmelite monastery adjacent to the USF campus.) Even now, Judie Hockel, 70, finds it hard to reconcile McGuire's charisma and intellectual heft with his acts of abuse.
"Everything seemed to combine together to give him a really superhuman ability — it probably was superhuman; Satan is pure intelligence, and maybe that's where it came from — to make you feel that you were liked by God, that you were worthy of being loved by God, that Christ was calling you to be closer to him," she said. "Catholicism is an adult religion. I certainly would not want to deny the significance of faith, but a lot of times people need a grasp of the rational thought. They're not getting the depth or the richness of Catholicism from the pulpit these days, and Donald McGuire filled that need in many people's lives."
In contrast to other Jesuits, who tend to occupy the liberal end of the Catholic spectrum on political and cultural issues, McGuire was a staunch conservative on doctrinal questions, including those involving gender and sexuality. Brigid Crotty, a 40-year-old Napa resident whose family became close to McGuire in the 1980s, recalled that the priest demanded that women wear long skirts in his presence.
Looking back, Hockel said she could pick out "red flags" that signaled an unstable personality. "There was always a chaos that surrounded his presence," she said. Meetings started late; appointments were not kept; people were made to wait, or to indulge McGuire's eccentricities. He was something of a control freak, forcing his hosts to cater to strict demands regarding his schedule, accommodations, and diet.
"He always wanted a salad with his meal," Hockel said. "He always wanted four ounces of fresh-squeezed orange juice. I can't believe every time he came I actually made an effort to squeeze orange juice. You look back ..." She paused. "I think deep down inside he enjoyed the coronation that we laypeople gave him, because we felt so lucky that we had this time with this brilliant, devout prophet."
It was this later phase of McGuire's life, as a traveling Jesuit guru, that federal authorities investigated as they built their case against him. They discovered that the priest, while he preached the virtues of intensely orthodox Catholicism to his followers, was subverting the traditions of his calling in startling ways. According to a sentencing memorandum filed by federal prosecutors after McGuire's conviction, one of his primary means of "grooming" young abuse victims was the ritual of confession.
For example, when the primary victim in the case confessed to McGuire at the age of 13 that he masturbated, McGuire "seized on it" and said the boy had an "addiction" that could send him to hell, according to court documents. He then demanded to "inspect" the boy's penis using a magnifying glass and baby oil.
Doe 129 said he was never abused in the confessional. But he does recall other strange twists on McGuire's vocational interests. During a visit to the Jesuit residence in Evanston, Doe 129 said, McGuire began masturbating in front of him in a private upstairs room. The classics scholar had allegedly preceded this exhibition with a discourse on how gay sex was a common practice among the ancient Greeks.
There is reason to believe that Doe 129 was not McGuire's sole local victim during his post-USF decades of world travel. A colleague of McGuire's within the church said in a recent interview that he received a complaint from a Bay Area family that McGuire was molesting their teenage son in the years after the priest left the university. The church official, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from his superiors, said he had passed the complaint on to McGuire's Jesuit higher-ups. (Doe 129 confirmed that he was not the complainant.)
Likewise, Crotty said her father, Fran Crotty, a former administrator at a North Bay Catholic school, was informed "in no uncertain terms" sometime in the last few years by a local man that McGuire had abused his son in the past. Reached by telephone, Fran Crotty declined to comment. "I'm not at liberty to discuss anything concerning McGuire," he said.
Stephen Komie, McGuire's Chicago-based lawyer, said in an interview that his client continues to maintain that the allegations leveled at him are lies intended to wring money from the church — and that his criminal convictions are simply by-products of accusations that drove the civil suits against him. "Father McGuire has always said that these are stories made up for the financial benefit of the persons who are bringing the case," Komie said.