Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has revealed how he and his twin brother narrowly escaped the clutches of evil paedophile priest Kevin O’Donnell while growing up in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
In his new book For The Common Good, Mr Shorten writes that O’Donnell approached the twins’ mother Ann in the mid-1970s to ask if her sons could become altar boys at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Oakleigh.
“Mum refused point blank,” Mr Shorten writes. “She didn’t like him. It was father Kevin O’Donnell, an evil paedophile who was later arrested and convicted for abusing children.”
“Mum’s instinct was very good,” Mr Shorten adds. “Through her actions, Rob and I avoided a monster.
“He went to jail, but only after he destroyed countless lives.”
O’Donnell was later jailed for indecently assaulting 11 boys and a girl, aged eight to 14, between 1946 and 1977. He died after his release from prison in 1997.
Mr Shorten said he and his brother went to Sacred Heart Church with their parents every Sunday morning while growing up – but that mass was conducted in a foreign language none of them could understand.
“The service was conducted in Polish,” Mr Shorten writes.
“Bemused – Mum came from a long line of Irish-Catholic Australians – Rob and I would ask her: ‘Why are we going to the Polish mass?’
“She’d retort, ‘It’s quick’.
“So I can claim to have been raised Polish Catholic in part.”
Mr Shorten’s mother, Ann Rosemary Shorten, died in 2014 at the age of 79. She was a celebrated academic and teacher.
The Opposition Leader and his twin brother were pallbearers at her funeral, held at the Xavier College Chapel in Melbourne.
* For The Common Good is published by MUP and is available now in bookshops and online.