“Spotlight” – Too Close to Home, By Emily Strachan


We go to the movies to be entertained, to learn something, and to enjoy the artistic talent present in the films….

Over Christmas break, I went to the movies to learn a little bit more about the community I grew up in…that is the Irish Catholic Boston community.

I grew up in a family of 6 and an extended family of nearly eighty diehard Catholics.  My Dad, born and raised in a poor suburb of Boston, is the 9th of 10 children.  My Dad’s parents, “Nana” and “Pa,” went to Catholic mass everyday of their lives.  They were friends with the priests’ at their local parish and would often have them over for dinner or coffee on Sunday evenings.  In fact, Pa’s only brother was a priest in Boston…and in my family, he was like a king.

All of my Dad’s brothers were alter servers…it was never really a question as to whether or not they would be involved in the church…rather, it was ingrained into their DNA.

My Dad explains it to me like this: when you have no money, no higher education, no way out of your small town…you have heaven to look forward to.  And in my family’s mind being a devout Catholic is the road you take to get to the golden gates.


When the Boston Globe uncovered the sex abuse scandal within the Boston archdiocese and within the entire global Catholic community my family turned a blind eye.  I still struggle with the concept that my loving and compassionate Grandparents, as well as my Aunt’s and Uncle’s, chose not to acknowledge the horror that occurred within their extended home.  They aren’t unintelligent people…how could they continue to attend church and call themselves “Catholic’s” when there is so much corruption within the church?

I attended Catholic School between the ages of eleven and eighteen and not once did we discuss the Catholic sex scandal brought to light by the Boston Globe.  My mother is not Catholic, so even though I was raised with a deep knowledge of the Catholic faith, I was exposed to other religions and open to other spiritual paths.  I also had an understanding of the contradictions apparent within the Catholic institution.

After seeing the movie, Spotlight, I felt melancholy.  My heart hurt.  I felt like my family had been betrayed by the people they entrusted their lives with.  I was aware of the scandal prior to seeing the film,  but the visualization of the entire story allowed me to understand the corruption in a new and more concrete way.

I still consider myself a Catholic but somedays I wonder why.  I am angry and confused.  I am sad that my family continues to practice Catholicism as if nothing happened.  I suppress these feelings by reminding myself that my Grandparents and their children truly believe that the best way to paradise is by practicing the faith they were raised in…

and maybe having this faith, is better than having no faith.

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One Response to “Spotlight” – Too Close to Home, By Emily Strachan

  1. marymdalton says:

    Excellent post. Personal. Honest. Analytical. It is a fine film in many ways, but it is a more personal film for you than for me given your upbringing. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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