Maes, Yvonne (M.) 1940(?)-
MAES, Yvonne (M.) 1940(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1940, in Manitoba, Canada.
ADDRESSES: Home—Vancover, British Columbia, Canada.
CAREER: Sisters of the Holy Names, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, nun, 1959-96; St. Mary's Academy, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, teacher; Mabathoana High School, Maseru, Lesotho, headmistress; Labrador Correctional Center, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, sexual abuse counselor.
(With Bonita Slunder) The Cannibal's Wife: A Memoir, Herodias (New York, NY), 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: At age eleven, Canadian-born author and educator Yvonne Maes was warned by her mother to steer clear of her father, who had abused her older sister. Although the warning came too late, Maes did as her mother asked until she left home at age twenty to enter a convent. For nearly forty years, Maes served the Catholic Church as an educator, both in Canada and abroad. During a church retreat in Durban, South Africa, she met Irish priest Frank Goodall, who was her retreat director during her stay. She met with him every day for spiritual guidance, and during one of these meetings she told Goodall of her childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Their meetings gradually grew more intimate, until Goodall seduced Maes. In an interview with Frédéric Zalac of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Web site, Maes explained "We were taught to trust priests. And he had all the right words, all the right vocabulary. He knew that women were oppressed in the church, he sympathized that women didn't get a good deal in the church, so I thought 'well, he understands.' Then he became the oppressor too." When the retreat ended, Goodall asked Maes not to mention the incident. She complied, and even stayed in touch with him over the following years, going so far as to meet with him a few times. When Goodall eventually ended the relationship, Maes reported his behavior to Church officials.
Despite the fact that Maes testified in front of an internal committee, and that other nuns had complained about Goodall's sexual advances to them while in Africa, Goodall merely received a temporary suspension of his duties counseling nuns. Maes wrote her book, The Cannibal's Wife: A Memoir, to work through her frustration with the Church's response. In return, the Church ordered her to eliminate the names from her book prior to publication. Maes refused, instead writing the pope and requesting to be dismissed from her vows. She then went ahead with her book as originally written. Maes told Zalac, "My hope is that with all my talking and writing, some in the church at least will gain some information, some understanding that these things have to change." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "although much of Maes's criticism . . . is persuasive, her tone is occasionally so angry and intemperate that it is difficult to judge the merits of her particular case from this subjective account." Margaret Flanagan, in a piece for Booklist, described Maes's book as "gripping," and called it "a harrowing, yet ultimately uplifting memoir of a courageous woman's quest for justice and self-affirmation."
In addition to her book, Maes went on to work as a counselor with other victims of sexual abuse. She continues to speak out against Church policies that protect aggressors and alienate their victims.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Maes, Yvonne, and Bonita Slunder, The Cannibal'sWife: A Memoir, Herodias (New York, NY), 1999.
Booklist, September 15, 1999, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Cannibal's Wife: A Memoir, p. 199.
Publishers Weekly, July 19, 1999, review of The Cannibal's Wife, p. 173.
Windspeaker, April, 2001, Paul Barnsley, "Who's Really to Blame?," p. 7.
Advocate Web site,http://www.advocateweb.org/ (December 8, 2004), "Yvonne Maes."
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Web site,http://www.cbc.ca/ (December 8, 2004), Frédéric Zalac, "The Sins of the Father."
North Shore News Web site,http://www.nsnews.com/ (February 28, 2000), "Nun Seduced by Her Priest."