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Testimonies and Other Writings

Letter 2

Dianne DiNicola
ODAN, Inc.
PO Box 4333
Pittsfield, MA 01202-4333

Dear Ms. DiNicola

            We are writing to you in the hope that your organization may be able to help.  Information coming from an organization is far more powerful and cannot be silenced as easily as an individual.

            Our daughters go to ----- -----, --* When they began, we thought we were sending them to an all girls Catholic School.  Many, many people including Catholics, have never heard of Opus Dei.  When we questioned this, after learning about their affiliation, they claimed they were not an Opus Dei school.  After learning more about them and their deceitful tactics, we realized they make this claim on technicalities.  For example, they say ----School is not funded by Opus Dei, yet, if you dig a bit further ---Foundation, Inc. is a holding of Opus Dei and has the same address.  The heads of school have always been Opus Dei, the Board of Trustees is comprised of Opus Dei members (or cooperators), most teachers and administration belong to the organization and most activities are Opus Dei related, which they don’t announce (apple picking, retreats, camps, guest speakers, etc.)  Even awards received by the schools are Opus Dei sponsored.  Never do they indicate the Opus Dei connection in any of this.  Yet, all of these award and community/family events helps to give the perception of a perfect school.  A perfect place to send your daughter.  No one is aware of the pressure, stress and manipulation that will become a part of her life while someone tries to recruit her into their world.  We could go on and on, however, we’re sure you understand because you re familiar with the way they work.  It is all very deceitful and subtle.

            They have an advising program which does nothing to help the girls with day to day school issues.  It is totally centered around proselytizing, although, no one knows this.  Girls are asked about other girls and encouraged to tell about other’s wrongdoings.  The advisors be-friend the girls—and the families, if they can (sometime just to get their money).  As you can imagine, if the girl does not conform, then she is pushed in the background—considered “a nothing”.  Opus Dei girls, or the ones they feel are candidates, get the good grades, get parts in plays, get into the better colleges, get to play on the sports teams, etc.,, etc., etc.  They truly humiliate and degrade girls who are not willing to become one of them.  The school tells them they don’t have school spirit or they are not demonstrating good character.  They try to take away their self-esteem and then tell them that they are the only ones who can help them.  All of this is done so professionally.  The staff and teachers are extremely nice to the parents who question any of these happenings.  They are assured that their daughter is wonderful and a pleasure and that she must have misunderstood.  Favorite phrases to parents are:  your daughter works so hard, parents are the primary educators-we will do whatever you would like, and our favorite:  she is the only one experiencing this, we haven’t heard this from anyone else.  This makes people keep issues to themselves, rather than talk about them.  However, recently more and more parents have been talking to each other and realizing that many non-Opus Dei families are experiencing the same behavior from the school.  There is no doubt, in our minds, that girls not willing to buy into the system are treated poorly.

            To attend one of their open houses is a great experience.  One would think that the school was wonderful.   They talk about character and vision, morals and ethics, and family.  What one does not realize is that “family” means the Opus Dei family.  Your life becomes theirs when you attend this school.  It affects YOUR whole family.  They completely take over the girl’s free time.  Hours of weekend homework are given, along with being “expected” to help on the weekend with school related activities.  They plan your daughter’s every move.  The stress becomes almost unbearable for girls to be perfect.  To do everything extraordinarily well.  They talk about service, but no one knows they mean service to Opus Dei.  Most community service projects are conducted by non Opus Dei students, so the school can say they are involved.  However, rarely is an Opus Dei girl involved.

            It is amazing how much control they obtain over the girls.  Their brainwashing techniques have been perfected.  Girls begin to feel superior to others morally.  They become harsh and judgmental to others not like them.  They are taught that other faiths and opinions are unacceptable.  If they do not buy into these beliefs, they are chastised and ostracized.  They are humiliated, degraded and made to feel inadequate.  The idea:  be like us or your life will be miserable.

            -------School has bought property in ----- -- in order to build a new school.  People in the community are unsuspecting.  Our goal is to try to make people aware of this group before they get involved with the school.  Everything is so subtle and deceitful that people don’t realize, until it is too late, that they have made a very bad choice for their daughter (s). People should know upfront what they are.  Our girls are aware of mortification practices.  They know about teachers using a cilice and small whip.  Many times the girls are told to “give something up” that would, by many, seem harsh.  For example:  no heat on some retreats and no heat in the school on days that were 35 degrees.  They are not allowed to wear sweatshirts (even school uniform ones) if they are cold.  They must take pants off that they wear under their uniform, to walk from the train on cold days, before they enter the school building or they get a detention.  They have been told these forms of mortification, along with many others, are o.k. because Christ suffered for us.  None of this is healthy for young girls to be exposed to.

            The attrition rate is huge.  Many, many parents do not like what is going on and leave, but do not really talk about it.  They are afraid.  Some cannot leave.  They realize too late what is happening.  Some students have been frightened into staying.  The advisor and admission director and head have told girls that it is too hard to leave.  They will not have any friends or the academics are not as good at another school.  They find a student’s vulnerable point.  Some students have been misrepresented on teacher recommendations.  Student recommendations are known to have been very negative, so the student will be rejected by other schools.  The senior classes have been extremely small.  Many are Opus Dei families, but others are those that could not get out and their lives have been filled with torment and hurt.  If someone digs hard enough, we’re sure they would get parents who would talk about their experiences.  However, many are afraid.  We could write many pages on the secretive ways of deceit, brainwashing and recruitment of young girls, but we know you have seen it all.  It is so good to know someone who will believe us and sympathize in our horrific experience.

            We thank you for your website.  It has helped us in so many ways.  Things we thought were odd, but could not quite figure out, made sense after doing some research.  You are doing a great service for people.  We think many more people are aware of Opus Dei tactics because of your organization.  Thank you.

            If you have any contacts that would help make people in the area (-------,-------, ---------, ------, -------, ------) aware of what -------- School really is, it would be a great service to many unsuspecting families.  Our aim is to save other girls from experiencing what ours have gone through.  It would save many girls from a subtle kind of abuse.  We hope that the school will not be able to open in -------.  We hope that they will not be able to get enough girls to attend.   

            We are afraid for our girls, so we must remain anonymous.  They are at the mercy of the ------- faculty and administration.  Hopefully, our daughters will get out unharmed.

*Names, places, and times have been withheld in order to protect the anonymity of the authors.

 

Posted May 10, 2006