I finished watching “The Keepers” on Netflix last weekend. I wanted to take this week to gather my thoughts on the series before posting this piece.
I didn’t know much about the show before I started it, except that it involved the unsolved murder of a nun in Baltimore and may have had a sexual abuse component. I had no idea it involved such rampant abuse of students at the high school that would serve as such a critical part of the series.
The second episode where Jean detailed her abuse at the hands of the priests, and other adults, was truly horrifying. There is no doubt in my mind she was telling the truth and I could barely contain my rage throughout the remainder of the series.
My first question was, shouldn’t the church and its administrators have been the first people insisting that the murderer(s) of Sister Cathy Cesnik be found by the police? I found that mind-boggling. I would expect that the church would have had volunteers out searching for her when she was missing, then out looking for clues once she was found. Instead, it was crickets from the church. Not even a reward!
My second question was, why didn’t Jean or any of the other students tell a parent or another adult about the abuse? I can’t imagine being a parent and not questioning why my son or daughter was spending so much time away from the classroom and with a priest. However, I imagine based on my own grade school brainwashing at a catholic school that no one would have believed that a “holy man” would be capable of such grotesque behavior. That likely explains why it was never questioned by Jean, or by any of the adults in her life.
My third question was, what role, if any, did Edgar and Billy (and others?) play in Cathy’s murder? The series didn’t make clear what relationship any of those people had with Mackell, if any. When the series got to that episode, I’ll admit I got a bit lost.
My fourth question was, how was Joyce Malecki’s murder connected to Cathy’s murder? I initially thought that perhaps the priest had Joyce killed a few days after Cathy disappeared in order to distract authorities from her disappearance. However, the series never developed that connection, probably because the government still hasn’t released any information about Joyce’s case to her family.
My fifth question was, who is Brother Bob? I suspect it’s Mackell’s brother Bob, who was a police officer. Just a guess.
My working theory is that Mackell had Edgar and his crew kill Cathy because he knew she was going to uncover his abuse. He then had Joyce killed either because she also knew too much, or simply to distract attention away from Cathy’s disappearance.
The bottom line is that the church allowed this behavior to go on even though it knew about it because let’s face it, the church needs customers to exist. The church saw its future with a dwindling congregation, which means dwindling funds. It couldn’t afford to lose either existing customers or new customers, so it had to accept such behavior and keep it under wraps. If the church admitted it had a pervasive problem, it would have ceased to exist. And the church couldn’t have that, since it is a business above all else. And that tacit approval of such abhorrent behavior resulted in continued sexual and physical abuse, and an overall feeling that priests and others in authority within the church could operate without consequences.
My true hope is that everyone watches this series so that it opens more eyes to these truths. I saw the truth as a child many years ago, and this series only confirmed what I already knew. I also hope that both the Malecki and Czesnik families, as well as all of the victims of Mackell, get justice.