THERE were three Catholic boys schools in the Hunter in the 1970s, and all three were headed by child sex offenders.
Marist Brother Christopher, real name William Wade, was principal of Marist Brothers, Hamilton. He was convicted of child sex offences in 2018.
Marist Brother Nestor, real name John Littler, was principal of Marist Brothers, Maitland. He was convicted of child sex offences in 1993.
Father Tom Brennan was principal of St Pius X, Adamstown. He was charged with child sex offences when he died in 2012. In 2018 Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Bill Wright acknowledged Brennan was a child sex offender.
"What chance did the students at these schools have?" asked Geoffrey Nash at the dedication of a memorial at the former Hamilton school to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse on Wednesday evening.
Mr Nash's brother Andrew was 13 when he took his own life at home in October, 1974. At a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing in Newcastle in 2016 the Marist Brothers acknowledged Andrew was probably sexually abused before his death. Two of his Marist Brothers teachers were later convicted of child sex offences.
Andrew's mother Audrey Nash wept as she spoke about "the night that never ends" when her son died and three Marist Brothers arrived at the family home - Brother Christopher and Brother Romuald, who both went on to be convicted of child sex offences, and a third Brother who has been charged with offences and is awaiting trial.
"They wanted to know if Andrew left a note or said anything," Mrs Nash told several hundred people who gathered outside the memorial for the dedication.
"They left with their answer, that he hadn't left a note, never to be seen again."
Geoffrey Nash revealed the pain of an older brother who fought for years to find answers, and then for justice for Andrew and other former students who died before the Marist Brothers' history of abuse was painfully exposed at the royal commission.
"Where the Marist Brothers have taught, there are dead children," Mr Nash said.
He listed the Marist Brothers who had taught at the Hamilton and Maitland schools and went on to be convicted or charged with child sex offences, or where the order acknowledged they were offenders after their deaths.
"The 1970s were bad years. In some years there were seven pedophiles at the school," Mr Nash said.
Notorious Catholic child sex offender priests Vince Ryan and Jim Fletcher said Mass at Hamilton on a regular basis.
"Being a young Catholic boy in those years was a dangerous occupation," Mr Nash said.
The memorial gave a voice to those who didn't have a voice at the royal commission, said Clergy Abused Network founder Bob O'Toole.
He urged students of St Francis Xavier College - the former Marist Brothers, Hamilton - to remember the students who went before them.
Marist Brothers head Peter Carroll agreed that there had been "too many words said" by people in the Catholic Church after devastating revelations about child sexual abuse, where action was needed.
He made a "solid commitment to a future free of the sorrows and betrayals of the past" and hoped that some time in the future there would be another gathering at the memorial.
"I hope that possibly at some point it can be a place of serenity," Brother Carroll said.
"Unlike you, they will gather here with no personal experience of what you have experienced at this school," he said.