A Magdalene Laundry survivor speaks out
On the washingtontimes:
It was December of 1946 as the harsh winds of a Baltimore winter howled outside of the ancient dining hall where twelve year-old Patricia Noel sat struggling to hold back the tears rising up inside her. She felt abandoned and alone in the world as she tried to hold back the pain that life had inflicted on the fragile heart of such a young girl.
At eight years old she had lost the only person that had ever mattered in her life when her mother died. Her father, a heroin addict, had left long ago, abandoning her mother and two siblings, leaving them destitute and living on the streets. When her mother died, Patricia and her brother and sister became orphans and wards of the state. A heartbroken and innocent young girl, Patricia became swept up in a wave of Social Service placements that shuffled her through a myriad of institutions and foster homes.
One of the places Patricia Noel was placed was St. Johns Episcopal orphanage located in Washington D.C. near the White House, where she felt loved and cared for. Fears of creating “institutionalized” children led them to transfer Patricia to a foster home that only returned her to Social Services. Eventually, at the age of eleven, Patricia was sent to the Magdalene Laundry in Baltimore, Maryland, run by the Good Shepherd order.
Magdalene Covenants were set up by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages to provide a place for repentant prostitutes seeking to cleanse their sins in preparation for marriage. These institutions would take a darker turn, however, as the industrial revolution dawned and young girls who violated a strict feminine moral code became slave labor in a hell they could never have imagined. [Rest.]