Many years ago, in the early 1980’s we began hearing from pregnant women and new mothers of priests’ children. The stories were unique in that each woman and priest is unique, but the stories all had similar themes of fear and often anger on the part of the priests, and so often a mixture of fear and love on the part of pregnant women and new mothers who were recognizing they were alone after having trusted that the love professed was not real, or, if real, not strong enough to face life as adult men and human fathers of holy and innocent children.

We realized, just as we did for those women who were involved with priests (who were not pregnant or mothers), we had to offer peer support and access to a network of counselors and legal options. Thus the network of Holy Innocents began for women who were pregnant or already mothers, and who felt they were alone in the world to face motherhood, and the scorn–rarely the support–of the clergy, hierarchy, and sadly often family.

Not unlike biblical stories, these women were metaphorically stoned by religious leaders in the institutional Church. The secret and suffering lasts a lifetime, all the while loving and providing to her best ability for the innocent child.

On these pages we will introduce you to the mothers of priests’ children. Many were forced to sign hush agreements if they wanted any child support from the institutional Church which protected the priest-fathers legally and physically, so they were not held personally responsible to raise their children. In most cases, those priests who had no integrity were and are allowed to remain in active ministry while the mothers and children struggle to survive, often shunned by family and parish. This is a far cry from those thousands of priests who, loving a woman, honored her, himself and their love by marrying, rather than feigning celibacy with a disregard for the Chastity which binds all Christians.

We will interview some of these mothers, and let them tell their stories. We will let the children speak when they wish to share their stories.

We will interview those priests who made the CHOICE for integrity and honest and respect, and who loved and raised their children creating priest-families in the long-held Apostolic Tradition of married priests.

Check back here as we add these interviews and pictures of the Holy Innocents.

Many women are abandoned when they become pregnant with a priest’s child.

“Yourself, the Fool”
Get up now dear
and leave me here
Me and the child within
You can run
from your own son
but one day he’ll know your sin.
We both must know
before you go
this child deserves much more
for the true sin
will just begin
when you walk out the door.
You will miss
his tender kiss
and never know his touch
or hear him say
on one sweet day
“I love you Dad, so much.”
Your whole life long
you’ll regret this wrong
as you try to serve your God.
You’ll say your Mass
but time will pass
then you’ll grow old and nod.
And remember when
our priests were men
before this Roman rule.
When you grow old
with heart so cold
you’ll think yourself the fool!
For you lived your life
without your wife
because of a Roman law
and you gave your heart
then fell apart
because of the child I bore.
So think this through
and as you do
consider this child we made.
Love your son
or the day will come
you’ll wish that you had stayed,
you’ll wish that you had stayed.
Get up now dear
and leave us here
me and this child within.
You can run
from your own son
but one day you’ll know your sin,
one day you’ll know your sin.


Once born the child of a priest is often left depending only upon his or her mother’s daily care and abiding love for a lifetime.

This keening lullaby was originally for a dear child, John Arthur Engelhardt who later took his father’s name, John Driesbach. Holding little John as newborn infant was a life-changer, and forced the awareness of the evil involved in neglecting such a holy innocent and pressuring a mother to give up her child to save a priest’s reputation .

Being abandoned or neglected by a priest-father is abusive.


Child of Priest grows up, finds his voice and speaks out…

John Driesbach, the child who inspired Holy Innocents, is interviewed about his experience and life.

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