Sick Pilgrim turmoil, Part 2: Donna Provencher’s story

The following is an account of recent events by Donna Provencher, who accuses Jonathan Ryan (a.k.a. Jonathan Weyer) of spiritual and emotional abuse. Ryan has been removed from his position at Sick Pilgrim, which he co-founded, and his upcoming book has been spiked by the publisher after numerous women, including cofounder Jessica Mesman Griffith, have come forward to accuse Ryan/Weyer of abuse and sexual assault.
This account comes from a conversation Donna Provencher and I had via a Facebook voice call on Saturday, November 18. At the end of Provencher’s story, I have included some pertinent screen shots and excerpts.
***
My life mantra, cribbed from Nora Ephron is: Above all else, be the hero of your life, and not the victim.
I had been a lapsed Catholic, self-identifying as an agnostic for six or seven years when I entered Sick Pilgrim.
I grew up very, very conservative. My parents were hard-line, knee jerk, republican, homeschooling Catholic conservatives. I went to Christendom College and encountered a lot of hypocrisy, spiritual abuse, and invoking the Holy Spirit as a cover for bad behavior and mistreatment of people. I didn’t like it!
I had spoken to a friend who works for the Register earlier this year. He said, “I think you’ve been fed this very specific definition of what Catholic spirituality looks like, and you’ve rejected it on those grounds. But there’s room for Oscar Romero spirituality, and Dorothy Day.” He considered me a “rebooting Catholic,” not a fallen-away Catholic.
Then one of my friends added me to Sick Pilgrim. I thought, “These are my people.” I was living between worlds, hanging out with secular humanists, theater people, journalists, but also very conservative friends. I had lost sight of the fact there’s a happy medium.
So Sick Pilgrim was this refreshing, “coming home” experience. I finally recognized my own yearning and my own thoughts and ideas in other Catholics. They’re all about being misfits, but they’re some of the most loving people you’ll ever meet. I saw something deeply good there. It was people, not doctrine, that had turned me off the Church, so it was people, not doctrine, that brought me back. Like Thomas Merton says: “It’s the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”
I wasn’t there very long before Jonathan approached me. It was probably less than a week.
He posted a picture of himself making breakfast, and I made some kind of offhand comment about “I want bacon!” or something. He PM’d me and said “Come visit, I have bacon!” I kind of laughed it off, we started talking, and that’s how it began.
The first day we talked was September 20th. [It was about a month previous to this that Ryan allegedly sexually assaulted Jessica Mesman Griffith.] That was on Facebook chat, and we talked for many hours. He asked if he could call the next day, and we talked all night on the phone. It was Sunday the 24th that he told me he loved me. I had been opening up to him about my struggles with an eating disorder, giving him a vast array of detail I hadn’t given anyone else before. It was in the midst of that that he said it for the first time.
Jonathan is a tremendously charismatic individual His Myers–Briggs type is ENFP (which is mine, as well) tend to be very personable, extroverted people who rally a group together. They end up in leadership positions because they are very adept and intuitive about what makes people tick.

That set of traits is a double-edged sword. It’s like the Spiderman deal: With great power comes great responsibility. He had all these gifts and charisms, and he used them for evil. There’s no other way to say it. His personality was enormously compelling, but it enabled him to be a narcissistic predator who could tap into people’s deepest needs and yearning, and reprogram them. It’s so much more tragic because he’s someone who has such potential for good. It’s diabolical.

He started almost immediately talking about marriage, in the next day or so. He was talking about the chapel he wanted to get married in, and would send me pictures of it. We fought about whether or not he would wear a tux. It was signed, sealed, and delivered. He was so convinced and convincing that this was something predetermined by God.
It’s hard for me to talk about, as someone who was an agnostic for so many years. How did I not see this was predatory behavior? How did I not step back from the teeming religiosity, and thinking, “This is not how God works”?
This is because he is incredibly skilled at inserting himself into leadership spiritual roles.
I was raped a year ago. My mother is schizophrenic and homeless, wandering around Detroit somewhere. My divorce had just been finalized. He sold a very convincing story that not only was it God’s will I should come back to the Church, but it was my vocation to be with him and marry him.
 He has a preoccupation with St. Kateri Tekakwitha. He named his house “The St. Kateri House,” and he took a trip to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs. A lot of the real manipulation started when he latched onto this tidbit that my name is Katherine with a “k.” She was my patron saint growing up. I had religious images of her in my bedroom, dressed up as her for All Saint’s Day.
He told me he pulled over sobbing on the side of the road, asking God where I had come from, since I was so intelligent, and wonderful and vibrant, and had just fallen into his lap out of a clear blue sky. He said he knew it was because St. Kateri had sent me to him. This was happening simultaneously with his exploitative behavior with other girls.
Later, when out of the blue he said, “I’m done with you” (the day after he had sex with me), I was crying in my backyard. I kept praying and thinking about a passage in Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, about someone who really devastates her, and she prays God will give her His love for this man. God will give us the more perfect way. I was praying that over and over again.
But God’s love is terrible as an army with banners, sometimes. I realize now that, when someone is exhibiting a pattern of exploitative, predatory, and cruel treatment of women, the loving thing to do is call them to amend their live — and protect other women from them.
I got this idea to pray a novena to St. Kateri. But I did not pray for Jonathan to come back. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t have all the details yet. I had this sense I needed to pray “God’s will be done, no matter what that looks like.”
I had a friend who didn’t know the St. Kateri details of the story, and he was telling me how, in some cultures, specifically in Iroquois culture, sex abuse, assault, and rape are almost unheard of, because they thought of women as god-bearers. It’s kind of a prescient thing, hearkening forward to the Theotokos. They believed women had the Creator’s gift in them, and if you defiled them, heaven would rain down justice. They would bring down destructions on themselves.

I just broke down crying, because I hadn’t told him about St. Kateri! And he was like, “St. Kateri doesn’t put up with that shit.” That was a healing realization.

 So, I had been going to Mass again for all of four weeks when I went to Indiana to visit him. He had been beating this drum about how premarital sex isn’t really wrong because we’re getting married, you’re my soul mate, it’s just a nominal thing. He’d joke about doing the marriage ceremony in front of the neighbor’s dog, for a witness.
I didn’t think God was fine with it. But Jonathan really is damnably — and I mean that in the literal sense, like infernally — persuasive when it comes to getting what he wants out of women.
He had sex with me multiple times. He was sexting with me before that. It had been sexualized from the get-go.
I had been going back to Mass, but was terrified of confession. So after having sex with me several times, he made an appointment for me with a sympathetic priest. I went to confession for the first time in seven years, an incredibly daunting confession.
I knew he wanted to have sex afterwards. I was like, “I know I’m not a very good Catholic, but I feel there is something wrong with what you’re advocating here!” I just kind of lived in that insane amount of cognitive dissonance. I was madly in love with him. He had groomed me to be in love with him.
So he had sex with me immediately afterward, and had zero problem with going to Mass the next day. He actively defended receiving Communion, and bullying me into receiving Communion, because it would make him feel guilty if I didn’t. He was sowing the seeds of chaos.
Last night, I talked to someone who had the exact same experience. Someone who wasn’t in Sick Pilgrim, but the same experience, even unto taking Communion right after having sex. Our jaws dropped. She was my alter ego in a different state. This was several months prior to what he did to me. He’s been exhibiting this pattern of behavior for many years. It breaks my heart to think of how many other people might be out there. We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Spiritual abuse hinges on targeting specific types of people. Jonathan went for writers, single moms, women struggling with depression and anxiety, and some who had previous relationships with a narcissistic abuser.
And these aren’t just hearts and minds at risk. People’s lives, their sexual health, is at risk. If you’re sleeping with someone who’s been lying about their sexual history, it’s tremendously dangerous. This is protracted form of potential physical abuse.
It’s one of those moments where someone needs to stand up. This ends with me. This stops now. The next girl, who’s suicidal — and he’s had messages to that effect, and I’ve been in those shoes — next time, someone might commit suicide. It might be a girl twenty years younger, instead of eleven years younger. It would be unconscionable for someone not to stand up, once the pattern has been established.
If you Google “Catholic sexual harassment,” my name is the second one down. It’s humiliating. I did not anticipate my fifteen minutes of fame looking like this.
But Jess and I realized that we couldn’t leave it at “let’s kick him out of Sick Pilgrim.” That’s transplanting an abuser, hoping he assaults some other girl. I’m not about that. He will wound another woman the way he has wounded Jess, and other girls, and he will do that again over my bleeding, broken body. This man does not need to be in ministry, around hurting people, Catholic, protestant, or otherwise.
I was in Indiana from October 20th till the 22nd. Some of my son’s holidays have been kind of shoddy, so we went to a pumpkin patch. I carved a pumpkin with Lucy and Tumnus. He carved a pumpkin with the Sick Pilgrim logo. But he was adamant we don’t tell anyone in Sick Pilgrim I was going to see him. He wouldn’t let me post pictures of us in the group. He was very irked, and made me cry, yelling at me about how he didn’t need Sick Pilgrim people up in his business. He said they had deviated from the true faith, and said he hated them, that they were awful people. He said this was special, and just for us. Classic abuser tactics.
He introduced me to his parents and colleagues. In hindsight, I realize he always introduced me as his “friend,” even though the wedding was set. He was suggesting we should get married right away, so he could put my three-year-old on his insurance.
He had good reasons. He didn’t want his kids and ex-wife to know the details of his personal life; he didn’t want the Sick Pilgrim people to know, because they are heretics who haven’t seen the light. I trusted him. We want to believe we can trust the people we love.
The night before I left, we went on this hayride, and we had a weird conversation. We had been talking about having more kids. He even named the children: Theodore, and Eowyn Kateri. But after the hayride, we had another conversation.
He said he saw the way I looked at babies and played with kids, and he knew I desperately wanted more kids, but he didn’t want any at all. Nope, no more kids, not gonna do it.
I told him, you’re kind of a Catholic figurehead. How are you gonna manage that? He joked about getting a vasectomy. And suddenly the hammer came down: You’re young. You want more kids. I never said I wanted more kids.

He never came to bed that night. I was upstairs crying. He was downstairs watching Stranger Things. That’s my favorite show. Now I have a “Friends don’t lie” tattoo.

He dropped me off at the airport like a sack of potatoes. It was like something just shut off. the only way I can describe it was like he got body snatched. He was cold, angry, warping reality, attributing terrible motives to people.

On the plane, I wrote to him, so in earnest, so in love with him. I wrote this long letter on those airplane barf bags, wrote and wrote and wrote. I told him I loved him, and we could work through the issue about kids.

But look, I’m just now coming back to the Faith. To quote Julia Brideshead, “Probably I shall be bad again.” Like C.S. Lewis, I was the unhappiest convert in all of England. I had found that Catholicism was the worst way of living, except for all the others. I told him, I’m not going to go through all of that — divorce, rape, eating disorders, a suicide attempt at age nineteen — and then be a halfhearted Catholic, not in a Catholic marriage.

There are layers upon layers. I run the risk of someone reading this story and saying, “That girl is a bad Catholic, and disingenuous.” To that person, I say: Yes. We’re all bad Catholics. But Jonathan’s behavior was bad on a fundamental human level, fundamentally violating the social constructs we need to survive as a society. It goes beyond “I messed up.”
I’m not setting myself up as a bastion of Catholicism. I like to talk about Dorothy Day, but I’m no Dorothy Day. I get that. That’s why it’s so difficult to come forward, knowing people will think I’m complicit in my own sexual abuse. But these were massive, massive violations against women. How can it be informed consent if you’re not informed about someone who is not who they say they were?
When I got home, I sent him that letter, saying I want to have a truly Catholic marriage. And he dumped me the next day, in a Facebook message.

I had applied to a number of positions in Indiana, at his urging. I told him I had sent a résumé to a job there, and he said, “Are you sure you don’t want to go back east with your family?”

And then he said, “I’m done.”

I’ve had some bad breakups in my life. This was not a bad breakup. There’s a difference between the necessary evil of realizing a relationship isn’t meant to be, and someone who has deliberately misled you from the beginning. At this point, he was already with his new soulmate.

I was extraordinarily confused and broken. I had attempted suicide when I was nineteen, but this was hell. I didn’t know which way was up. He had gone out of his way to isolate me from the Sick Pilgrim group, saying terrible things to me about Jess from the day I joined, because he perceived her as rejecting him after he sexually assaulted her. He very intentionally engendered this profound distrust of everyone in that community. So I left.
You had this person in a position of spiritual leadership, a paragon of Catholic virtue that every girl wants to end up with, and he had positioned himself as a spiritually authoritative voice. He knew all my darkest secrets. Jess says abuse by narcissists is “soul rape.” I’ve experienced both kinds. It’s an apt analogy.
It also had a catastrophic effect on my just-burgeoning spiritual journey. That was a mine field to navigate. I had just come back. I actually did believe in one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church. I tried not to, but I do. I had just come to that point in my life. I had left the Church over spiritual abuse and hypocrisy, and this was a horrible déjà vu. It reminded me of that passage in [C. S. Lewis’] A Grief Observed: The danger is not that we will come to believe there is no God, but that this is what God is really like: deceive yourself no further.
Jonathan was so inextricably entangled with my reversion experience, it poisoned everything. He sees himself as a Christ figure. It permeates his entire interview with you.  He says, “This is how Jesus would handle it.” Actually, Jesus wouldn’t be in this position of defending Himself from abuse allegations! Baptizing his cruel behavior in the name of Jesus. So repugnant.
I’ve been rewatching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I feel like I got sucked into some weird Ryan cult. I will openly admit I haven’t been to Mass since I got back from Indiana. I feel terrible. I want to go. I just can’t. There’s this internal shattering.
I don’t blame God for any of this. God is not at fault when evil people do evil things. At the same time, I couldn’t figure out where my faith began and where Jonathan’s sticky fingers ended.
This is going to sound strange, but the last week has been one of the most painful weeks of my entire life, but also the most freeing and liberating. Jonathan underestimated this. He didn’t think he’d eventually target the wrong person.
When Jess messaged me last Sunday morning [after I left the Sick Pilgrim group], she said, “You don’t have to tell me anything, but Jonathan’s behavior has been erratic. Do you want to talk?” And I just cried. I just wept. She was the first person who reached out. She was so gentle and compassionate. That’s who Jessica is. I just told her everything.
I’m never going to play the Holy Spirit card again — never say He inspired some action or event. I’m a little squicky about that. But something prompted Jess, who had just walked out of Mass. We were not friends at all. We had briefly exchanged editorial messages about a thing I had written about Stranger Things. Jonathan had terrified me about her.
The first thing she said was, “I’m so sorry this has happened to you.” She let me talk about everything. She let me tell my story, and honored that, and listened to my heart, which was a mess. I don’t remember when she told me about her own experience, and others’.
So I thought, “Maybe these Sick Pilgrim people aren’t so bad after all. There’s a predator out there. It’s not Sick Pilgrim’s fault, and not the Church’s fault.” That was a huge healing.
She told me about Jonathan’s new girlfriends, and it was so freeing, like in Dawn Treader, with Eustace’s scales being pulled off: It hurt like billy-oh, but it was so good to see it come away. Life had been salvo after salvo, blast after blast, but it was so profoundly healing to be believed — and to have the community take immediate action.
A number of people, five or six people, signed off on his dismissal letter. But he didn’t respond to all of them. He wrote an intimidating, threatening, “lawyer up” email, and sent it only to the two who were his victims. It was very calculated. He sent me a text: “I hope you’re happy. You got your revenge.”
One of the admins, Matt Lafleur, wrote this beautiful post about how it’s part of the behest of Catholics to look out for broken things. He has his own physical disability, and this was very moving to me. Remember, I had been in the group six days before Jonathan came along. But they wholeheartedly embraced me. They gathered evidence and sent Jonathan a letter dismissing him by Tuesday afternoon. I posted my testimony to the group Tuesday evening.
This is how we are supposed to deal with predators in our midst. They do not represent the Church, or the Holy Spirt, or St. Kateri, but they are in fact blasphemers. Abuse against women is a sacrilege, an interpersonal sacrilege.
This week was empowering. I feel like myself again. Narcissistic abuse is like a drug addiction, and truth is your serum, your anti-drug, combatting it. The light of truth was jarring, but restorative to my faith.
I am planning to go back to Mass for the first time this weekend. I feel like I had fallen into a well, a very narrow well with a very long shaft, and I was sitting at the bottom in the muck. I was desperately suicidal, and nothing made sense. People were calling to me, and telling my life was bigger than this, but I couldn’t hear it. It sounded far away. I was locked in this echo chamber of pain.
I give immense credit to the Sick Pilgrim community, and to Jess, specifically, for pulling a front page-worthy rescue, drilling a parallel well, pulling me out of there fist over fist. I give them tremendous credit for such decisive action and such compassion. It made me able to identify Jonathan’s actions as diabolical, not God-ordained.

It’s really important we call things by their proper names. Sometimes we tiptoe around these terms, “spiritual abuse,” “emotional abuse,” “sexual assault,” “sexual abuse,” and “psychological gaslighting.” We call it “mistreatment.” Let’s call it for what it is. J.K. Rowling says fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself. The word isn’t scary. The thing is scary. Let’s call them out properly for committing these heinous actions.

I’m not allowed the privilege, as a Catholic, of believing anyone is beyond the reach of redemption. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that someday he will be able to acknowledge the wrong he has done and the people he has hurt. So far we’ve seen complaining, how persecuted he is, and how much other people have hurt him. He’s not expressed sincere concern for the people he has harmed.
I had this conversation with him about going to confession and then having sex. I said, “When I say the act of contrition, I say I’m not gonna do it again. But I’m gonna do it three hours later.”I told him part of repentance is amending your life. He hemmed and hawed. He said God didn’t really mean it. He fought with me about it.
I loved this man. I loved who I thought he was. I hope my speaking up (even if it means coming up in a Google search for the rest of my life), and Jess and other victims coming forward, will make him take stock of what he has done, and he will change his life.
I pray for Heaven for him. I don’t hate him. I really do hope he stops posturing as the victim. He is not the victim. We are.

 ***

[end of Donna Provencher’s story.]

The image at top is composed of three messages from Jonathan Ryan.
The first is from the Sick Pilgrim admin group. This was his first response when the admins sent him a letter terminating him from work with Sick Pilgrim. Ryan says “I fully admit what happened to Donna. I’m not proud of it.”
The second image is from the first message he posted in a secret splinter group immediately after he got kicked out of Sick Pilgrim (he apparently did not realize that Donna was a member of this group). Ryan tells his friends: “I vehemently deny anything that was said.”
The third image is a message he sent to Donna. He says: “I hope you’re happy. You got your revenge. Congrats.”

More reading of interest:
On August 28, after Ryan allegedly assaulted Jessica Mesman Griffith and before he began his relationship with Donna Provencher, Jonathan Ryan posted an essay about abusive narcissists on Sick Pilgrim. The post has since been scrubbed, because it upset so many of the readers. Here are two excerpts that have been preserved:
Trump is the Incarnation of all narcs, but we don’t even have to go that far afield. There are men who seek the utter destruction of women, not their not their flourishing. Most of them don’t look like Trump or have large, obnoxious personalities. Indeed, they are charming angels of light, with cut jaws, put together appearances and neat, orderly cars. But, these angels of light seek destruction of the light and the annihilation of the Image of God in others. They do anything they can to negate the talent, the intelligence and the beauty of the women in their lives. They don’t want ‘power,’ they want destruction by being in love with concepts of themselves and in doing so, twist things that ought to be good. Their God-given maleness becomes twisted into a prison-made shiv that plunges into the heart of every woman who comes into striking distance.

[…]

In the years since my divorce, I’ve befriended a number of women who have come out of relationships with men who are narcissists of the most heinous kind. I’m horrified at how these strong, accomplished and put-together women are often sucked of their God-given personalities and talents to the point of considering suicide. Indeed, in a few cases, the women have tried and thankfully failed. But in one particular case I know of (a friend of a friend), the man talked the woman into killing herself and is reaping the narcs ultimate dream: adulation for his bravery and the sympathy of other soon-to-be victims. It is truly diabolical. And it makes me wonder how much I may have done this to women in my own life.

 

65 thoughts on “Sick Pilgrim turmoil, Part 2: Donna Provencher’s story”

  1. Dear Mrss. Simchajayschmiddlapp,

    The reading of this low-down, macabre, melodramatic, obscene, off-color, offensive, purple, RACY, raunchy, revolting, rough, salty, sanguine, savage VOLLEY of accusations against a man who has only been accused of these charges, and not charged, arrested, read his Miranda’s rights, jailed, posted bail for, tried by a judge and jury of his molester-abuser-looking peers, pronounced guilty of anything other than fighting too hard, too whimsically on this battlefield we call love, leaves me as a Brother in Christ, a Father in Christ, a Son and Christ, and a Gentleman in Christ, desiring to remind you that in Christ all men are innocent and all women are nameless furymongers. Something to consider.

    In this old timey train of thought, mayhaps it would serve to remind you that this man, named after St. Jonathan, who was also 90% sweet sweet Christian legs, mmmmm, did flat-out admit to literally everything, but more importantly he DENIED doing any evil or illegal deed without even being before a jury of his 90% leg man peers. Something to consider.

    One more thing, Mrss. Schmiddlappcha. I would be remiss to not remind you, Ms. Simcha, that our Lord never once names any sexual predator or spiritual abuser by name. We ought only to use the names of women when chastising them, especially in this case considering that the 8 women who have come forward were not even alive when Christ walked this earth. Something to consider.

    Please pray more.

    Signing off as if this were an email,

    Yours most gentlemanly,

    In All the Angels and Saints, etc.,

    Heywood J.

  2. What an education these articles have been…not to mention the combox. 🙄

    It’s so easy for me, in my safe little life with my safe little circle of friends, to forget to be vigilant about hidden evil. On a very personal level, thanks so much for the reminder. And on a broader level, thanks for a platform of women-looking-after-women. It’s beautiful to see.

    And also, combox people, what’s with all this BLAME THE VICTIM? I don’t get it. You know, actually, never mind. That was just a rhetorical question.

  3. Is there an attack on white males today? Yes. Is this post one of them? Absolutely not.

    Every Catholic woman has met or known of guys like these and they always get away with it and the woman in the situation gets slandered. This took a lot of courage on the part of Simcha, Donna and Jessica. On behalf of all Catholic women out there, THANK YOU!!

    1. Ms. Colleen

      The question is not whether this is an attack on white males; but rather how the publication of this lurid expose will impact on Ms. Provencher’s future life?

      Not well I think.

      Kindly join me in praying for Ms. Provencher’s intentions.

      God bless

      Richard W Comerford

      1. I think the person most concerned about Ms. Provencher’s future is Ms. Provencher, and she chose to share it. Women need to warn other women about bad men because men won’t warn us.

        1. And to all the commenters out there who keep saying “keep your bad break up to yourself”, this guy is in youth ministry! He used his position to “minister” to a girl in a vulnerable situation then used sex and the sacraments as a means of control and shame over the vulnerable girl! This is a layman’s replay of the clergy sex abuse scandals. So please stop acting like Simcha just wanted to pick sides in a couple’s fight. This guy guy is predator and needed to be outed. If more people had done the right thing regarding the clergy coverups perhaps there wouldn’t be thousands of permanently scarred former Catholics out there.

          1. Mr. Comerford – you are the one who brought up the issue of “white males”. No one condemning Ryan’s behaviour is attacking men in general, they are only stating that it is wrong to spiritually and sexually manipulate vulnerable women.

        2. Ms. Colleen:

          Ms. Provencher claims to have already made numerous poor decisions. Her decision to go public (and attack both her parents and her Alma Mater) may be yet another bad decision.

          And men, starting with the God-Man, and followed by Popes, Bishops, Priests, Saints and the Fathers of young ladies have been warning women about bad men for 2,000-years now.

          Some woman, to include Ms. Provencher, sometimes just do not listen.

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

        3. “Women need to warn other women about bad men because men won’t warn us.”

          Indeed.

          Fun fact – my ex-husband’s ex-wives (there are three of us now) all talk to each other more than we talk to him.

  4. Mr . Comerford,

    You have no heart in your chest. You are cruel and pompous.

    I don’t even want to look at the names of the other people who were cheerleaders for your comments. I can only imagine what kind of websites you like to read but we’re all familiar with them. They are full of angry old people who think their lives are exemplary because they are in love with their bloodless perfection. People who wield the faith like a log to bludgeon people like Donna are the reason why mellenials are falling away from the faith in droves. To those mellenials I say: “don’t associate the limitless love of Jesus with the antievangelists”

    Mr Ryan is a predator. Mr Ryan doesn’t have the power to “taint” his victims. Any person who would judge his victims with a sense of superiority isn’t worthy of them. Normal people don’t function like that. Fringe Catholics have nothing normal about them. They border on monstrous. They will see their error some day and weep that they never learned how to love truly.

    1. Ms. Anna lisa

      Thank you for your reply.

      Your support for Ms. Fisher’s expose ensures that Ms. Provencher will, in all likelihood, not reconcile with her parents nor ever be courted by an honorable Catholic gentleman intent on Christian marriage. Although all things are possible in Christ.

      And, if Mr. Ryan is in fact the cunning monster that Ms. Fisher appears to portray him to be then he will merely turn her expose around and play the persecution and sympathy cards thus ensuring even more victims to his predatory ways. But if Mr. Ryan is, in fact, innocent then you have helped destroy his good name and reputation – a violation of the 5th Commandment.

      I would suggest that you pray more for all the parties involve and judgethem less.

      God bless

      Richard W Comerford

      1. Your words are sinister. They don’t sound like Jesus at all. They sound like the hiss of a threat. Jesus isn’t like that.
        Begone.

        1. Seems like he’s both hoping Ms. Provencher encounters further difficulties and disappointments and that manipulative abusers get off scot free.

        2. Ms. Anna lisa

          Thank you for your reply.

          You may notice that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is cited in the Gospels as speaking more often about Hell, sin and damnation than Heaven and grace.

          There may be a reason for that.

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

          1. Dear Mr. C,

            I know Trads love to say that. I’ve heard it so many times. It’s all part of your script, and you are following the playbook quite nicely. The temperature in your lake of fire is quite comforting to you. “They’ll roast!”Is what the Trad says with glee. There is a spreading warmth in the bosom as you consider how much nicer heaven will be because of the sheer numbers of humans that didn’t make it like you did. Exclusivity has always delighted humans.

            I know, I know–you’re knitting your brow right now and feigning concern, but in your heart of hearts you think they’ll get what is coming to them, and you admire your god because he sifts through his children to find the quality ones before he discards the rest, and “hands them over to the torturer”–No? Isn’t that what your god does? And frankly, if god can torture children, can’t we also?Can’t we emulate that god? And if god can do more than extinguish their worthless lives, and prolong the suffering to an eternity of torture, can’t we also do something similar? And so why don’t we do it here and now and more importantly do it in his name–in the name of this wrathful god we worship.

            Did Our Lady of Fatima show the children hell? Yes, I believe so!– What else could the coming war be described as? The first war was hell. If it wasn’t hell, I can’t think of another word to describe it. Do those who perpetrate evil under the cover of darkness import hell to their brothers and sisters? They do indeed! Mr Ryan is a prime example of this. He brought his hell and lies and nearly drowned a woman (women) in his hellish lake. Jesus says devils roam this earth looking for hosts to experience what they couldn’t otherwise tap into. Even a herd of pigs, grunting and rutting around was favorable to the alternative, (remember?)

            Hell is what is left in the center of our being when we cannot love our neighbor; when we are so shallow and egotistical, that the fate of our brothers and sisters doesn’t truly concern us. Hell is when a human ceases to be human and reverts to having the instincts of an insect–like a spider, or a reptile, feeding on the blood of a fresh kill.

            Just like heaven is now, hell is now too!
            ***
            And then Jesus *explained* the parable to his followers. He spoke in riddles to challenge their beliefs, and to confound the hard of heart.
            ***

            My personal belief is that God doesn’t allow anything to be fruitless–even hell. My guess is that hell is a tender mercy which allows souls to truly know what they have chosen. I have great hope in Jesus, and the communion of the saints to help right every wrong and resuscitate every prisoner that exists there, languishing from the hell of indifference.

            Sometimes I wonder if none of us really gets to go home until everyone is safely gathered together at the gate. The bride of Christ can’t be missing vital organs. We are all in this together.

            A good article which fleshes out the evolution of Catholic thought on the matter is “The Population of Hell” by Avery Cardinal Dulles

          2. Anna Lisa, this is terrific. It was von Balthasar’s book “Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?” that gave me the final conviction that the Catholic Church preached the truth. I’m always so happy to see your name in the combox.

          1. Cordelia,
            Thank you. You are kind. The thought that hell might be empty at the end gives me joy, and hope! It wasn’t until I allowed myself to believe this that I began to see other people as brothers and sisters of Jesus–all of them–each one needing patience and time. It’s such a relief.

            When I was a little girl, my father would tell this story about when he was stationed in Germany. He saw a father, a mechanic, kick his five year-old son so hard that the child became airborne. He did it while screaming at him in a terrifying voice. I’ve heard that Hitler was also the victim of profound abuse at the hands of his father. Those fathers were also clearly the victims of abuse. Monstrous behavior begets monstrous behavior. Victims become abusers. We are all connected, and there IS a solution. There is an antidote. The devil doesn’t want us to believe it. He wants us to think that God is like him!

            I wish the theology was more spelled out, but I can’t understand how it could be otherwise. How beautiful that Edith Stein intuited it before she willingly went to the gas chambers.

  5. Thank you Simcha for writing these, doing the work and reporting well. Predators thrive in secret and thanks to Jessica and Donna this guy has been exposed.
    To the people who feel like the comment section of these articles is the place to lay out the rules of the church and hold the woman up in comparison to them as “sinners,” be a little bit honest with yourselves and don’t do it again. You are sinners too, any shortfalling on the woman’s part does not justify what was clearly insidious and predatory behaviour. He groped one person when they were visiting his house in good faith, and a very short while later was coercive and manipulative towards a second person. His anger at her wanting to have a picture together is so clearly narcissistic, he was talking about marriage for pete’s sake! Yes there were red flags but these women trusted someone who feigned sincerity and do not put guilt on them for that.
    I pray for the women that they heal and I pray for the men who have their heads so far up their bums that they choose to shame people who have been preyed upon and used. Donna your dignity is admirable and intact your courage and vulnerability speaks volumes, and same goes for you Jessica. Jeff and Richard you have thrown your dignity to the wind, have the decency to recover it and apologize.

    1. Mr. Bradley Black:

      Thank you for your reply.

      As a Christian my “dignity” should be of no concern to me. My real concern, firstly, should be the salvation of my immortal soul. Secondly, helping my neighbor save his soul.

      I fail to see how a lurid expose relating the (alleged) sordid details concerning serious violations of the 6th and 9th Commandments by named parties aids in my own or any other person’s salvation.

      Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did not name names when he taught us how to save our souls via parables. Nor did famous preachers who followed in His Footsteps, like the venerable Fulton Sheen, name names.

      Neither you nor I know the truth to the matter at hand. We do however know the Commandments and our obligation to pray for all of the parties involved.

      This is no time for virtue signaling on your part.

      Kindly reflect.

      God bless

      Richard W Comerford

      1. Hahaha, “thanks” for replying. I’ll pray for you. I think you willingly fail to see the point of this article and I dare not surmise what your motives are. I was applauding the exposition of a predator, not virtue signalling. It was done well and was not lurid.

  6. Ms. simchajfisher:
    Re: Credibility

    Please. You actually just posted in quotes and attributed to me the following statement: “we’re still not getting his side of the story”. Trouble is I did not write and post the aforementioned statement.

    If you cannot quote me properly in a simple blog thread then how do I know you quoted the alleged predator Jonathan Ryan properly in your two part expose? Indeed did you audio tape all of your phone conversations with Mr. Ryan? Do you possess accurate transcripts?

    If Mr. Ryan is the evil predator you allege then he will turn around your expose and play it as a sympathy card based on shoddy citations.

    And as for the young lady in question after the publication of your expose what chance does she now have for reconciliation with her parents? And what honorable young, Catholic gentleman will now take the risk of courting her?

    Kindly reflect.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    1. Right, you said “We are essentially getting only one side of the story here,” and not “We’re still not getting his side of the story.” I will confess that when I’m chatting in a comment box, I don’t hold myself to the same journalistic standards as I do when I’m writing a news story.

      Now are you ready to stop deflecting and answer my question? I asked what you would require, in order to be satisfied that we are getting both sides of the story.

      1. Ms. simchajfisher:
        Re: Credibility-2

        Sorry. But this is not a matter of journalistic standards. It is a matter of the proper use of quotation marks. That use does not change from forum to forum. Said misuse reflects on your credibility as a professional writer.

        And if Mr. Ryan is the cunning predator that you and Ms. Provencher apparently portray him to be then he will play the outrage/persecution/sympathy cards and your expose will backfire.

        And if the portrait that you and Ms. Provencher have painted of Mr. Ryan is in fact inaccurate then you have done him a grave, grave disservice.

        And my position is not a matter of deflection but rather an explanation of my bias in favor of romance, love and marriage. Your expose attacks my bias and the publication of your expose has likely reduced Ms. Provencher’s chances for romance, love and marriage dramatically.

        You are simply not in the position to be reporter, judge and jury in this matter.

        Kindly reflect.

        God bless

        Richard W Comerford

          1. Ms. simchajfisher:
            Re: Credibility-3

            Thank you for your reply.

            I believe that I did. I raised the question as to whether or not you recorded all of your telephone conversations with Mr. Ryan and produced accurate transcripts. Without these no one will know if you examined Mr. Ryan in a just manner.

            And then in justice if you are allowed to examine Mr. Ryan via telephone then his agent should be allowed to examine Ms. Provencher.

            Then an unbiased third party should review and weigh the opposing testimonies and deliver an opinion as to the exterior rights and wrongs of the case.

            Only Almighty God can judge the interior dispositions of souls in these matters.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford

        1. Because manipulating and deceiving a vulnerable single mother with a history of eating disorders and mental illness is just so romantic and loving, isn’t it?

  7. Thank you Simcha for bringing more light into this horrible situation. There are many men like this and the more that the typical traits/characteristics of narcissistic, abusive men are spelt out and aired, the more women will know (please God) how to identify them and steer well clear. God bless you, Donna and Jessica and all the other women who have been treated so badly by this man.

    1. Ms. Lizzie
      Re: Jonathan Ryan vs Donna Provencher

      Mr. Ryan may well be named Mr. Evil. And Ms. Provencher may be totally innocent in this matter.

      However I am reminded of other cases (See Duke Lacrosse Team) wherein after near universal condemnation the Mr. Evil(s) turn out not to be so evil after all.

      In justice we must remember that we are essentially getting only one side of the story here.

      In charity we should pray for the salvation of the immortal souls of all parties.

      God bless

      Richard W Comerford

      1. As you can see, this story is labelled “Part 2.” Part 1, which I linked to in part 2, is an interview with Jonathan Ryan, based on three phone calls this weekend. Part 2 also includes screenshots from Ryan. Other than signing my entire site over to him, I am not sure how I could have given him more space to tell his side. You will note that, in the screenshots, he says that he “fully admits what happened to Donna.” This was a note to the admins who kicked him out based on, among other things, Donna’s story.

        I understand that men like you will always stick up for men like him, even when there’s overwhelming evidence they’re at fault, and call it “being fair” or “not rushing to judgment.” This is why women like me have to write these stories.

        1. Ms. simchajfisher:

          I did indeed read Part 1 of your work before I read part 2. Which, after having read said parts, I believe we are essentially still getting only one side of the story.

          And I am sticking up not for men but for romance, love and marriage.

          An expose, like this one, will only serve to discourage young Catholic men from seeking young Catholic women to be their brides until death do they part.

          And quite frankly I think you have done Ms. Provencher no favors in publishing her attack on her parents. Who else but her parents can succor Ms. Provencher in her hour of need?

          Kindly reflect.

          God bless

          Richard W Comerford

          1. Your statement “we’re still not getting his side of the story” is nonsensical. We spent hours on the phone with the man. He gave his defense, and I printed it. Can you give me an example of what it would look like, if someone were to share his side to your satisfaction?

            Ms. Provencher’s stated goal in sharing her story was to warn other women away from this man and from similar situations. Her upbringing, which you consider the remedy for the things she has endured, is *what grooms women to be abused*. Women in hyper-traditionalist communities are taught to listen obey men no matter what, to ignore their own instincts, and to suffer without complaint. It was *because* she was brought up like this, and not despite it, that she was so susceptible to the exploitation from this man.

  8. This guy may be a jerk, but your problems are largely self-induced. I’m w/ the gentleman above who says avoid sex outside of marriage, bring him home to meet your parents, etc. There were plenty of red flags waving by your own admission. You shouldn’t have let it get so far. I’m not going to exonerate the writer. She’s partly to blame for this mess, too.

  9. You had a bad break-up. Just have the maturity to walk away and get on with your life. But by engaging in this juvenile game of trying to smear him, you are not making HIM look bad, you are making YOURSELF look bad.

    You admit he’s the one who broke up with you, while you wanted marriage. Obviously, you turned against him when you realized you couldn’t have him. And you come off as a bunny-boiling, psycho ex-girlfriend…and you’re sabotaging yourself (by airing all this baggage, you paint yourself as “damaged goods”). Any decent guy would be scared away from you.

    There’s a lesson here for everyone. After a bad break-up, leave with your dignity intact. You owe it to yourself.

    P.S. If you made insincere Confessions and/or received the Blessed Sacrament unworthily, that’s on you. Nobody else. Just you. You’re a grown adult. So for heaven’s sake, take some personal responsibility for your actions and assume some accountability!

    1. With this comment, you’ve declared yourself a predator’s best friend. This particular predator, and every predator.

      This man isn’t just a jerk, he’s a serial abuser. He isn’t just a bad boyfriend, he’s a calculated deceiver. He has done this countless times and will continue to do it as long as he’s allowed to. And he’ll do it in the name of Jesus.
      Doesn’t that bother you?

      If there are articles like this online, future employers and future girlfriends will know who he is, and will not allow him to do what he does. It’s not only ethical to share stories like this, it’s our responsibility.

      1. Ms. simchajfisher:

        Well, please sign me up as another evil, white male, who is a predator’s best friend.

        As a predator’s best friend my advice to young ladies is:

        1. Obey the Commandments. Do not have sex outside of the marriage bond.

        2. Before you marry bring you boy friend home to meet your parents. Your victim writes in part:
        “My parents were hard-line, knee jerk, republican, homeschooling Catholic conservatives.” and these are exactly the type of parents you want because they will tell their beloved daughter her boy friend is a jerks and to stay away from him.

        3. Once you are married stay married until death even if you are forced to obtain a secular divorce.

        As an evil old, white old man I would add that I have seen more than a few heart broken young ladies. It does not help your situation to broadcast your personal problems to the world or to get involved with online or offline support groups. Instead, find a holy confessor and if necessary a competent therapist.

        And I will make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of LaSalette for the intentions of all the broken hearted young ladies out there.

        God bless

        Richard W Comerford, aka: predator’s best friend

          1. Ms. simchajfisher:

            Well, as another evil, white male, who is a predator’s best friend, my advice to young Catholic gentleman is:

            1. Obey the Commandments. Do not have sex outside of the marriage bond.

            2. Before you marry bring your young lady home to meet your parents. No parent is perfect. But if you are blessed with parents they probably love you more than anyone else in the world. Also try and avoid posting public attacks on your parents on the internet.

            3. Once you are married stay married until death even if you are forced to obtain a secular divorce. Your wife is now the most important person in the world to you now. More important than parents, children and even Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Your wife is, in a sense, your key to heaven. You must be ready to lay down your life for her at the drop of a hat.

            As an evil old, white old man I would add that I have seen more than a few heart broken young men. It does not help your situation to broadcast your personal problems to the world or to get involved with online or offline support groups. Instead, find a holy confessor and if necessary a competent therapist.

            God bless

            Richard W Comerford, aka: predator’s best friend

          2. Simcha.
            You have done your best to awaken Mr. Comerbum from his dystopian dream that the appropriate action after spiritual, sexual assault is to shut your mouth and keep sick secrets stacked away, so u can be abused again by some spirtual psychopath. Please continue to be fearless.
            God Bless.

          1. Exactly. Don’t play a victim. Follow the teachings of the Church. Also, we don’t have her parents’ side of this. My guess is she was raised to do exactly what would have spared her this heartache and humiliation.

        1. Good advice for every young lady. Her description of her parents was quite slanted. I’d love to hear their version of her upbringing.
          Blessings to you, Mr. Comerford.

      2. “With this comment, you’ve declared yourself a predator’s best friend.”
        What a stupid, thoughtless comment. You owe him an apology.

      3. “With this comment, you’ve declared yourself a predator’s best friend. This particular predator, and every predator.
        This man isn’t just a jerk, he’s a serial abuser. He isn’t just a bad boyfriend, he’s a calculated deceiver. He has done this countless times and will continue to do it as long as he’s allowed to. And he’ll do it in the name of Jesus.
        Doesn’t that bother you?”

        Ms Simchajfisher,

        I have broken up with women in the past that I came to conclude were mentally unstable, violent, and/or flat out crazy. What I DIDN’T do was post their name all over the Internet, trying to defame them and ruin their lives. Nor would I ever blame them if I elected to unworthily receive the Eucharist.

        But then, I am an adult.

        And if this guy was such a monster, why was Donna so desperate to marry him? She only turned against him after he broke it off with her.

        You need to grow up. It would serve you right if this guy sued you for slander. What you’re doing is very akin to “revenge p0rn”.

        In summary, shame on you.

        1. “Nor would I ever blame them if I elected to unworthily receive the Eucharist.”

          But did you ever pressure a woman to unworthily receive the Eucharist? Did you ever use her feelings for you to manipulate her into unworthily receiving the Eucharist? Because if so, you’re as bad as Mr. Ryan. If not, then you are much closer to a normal person than Mr. Ryan is, and you cannot be wholly blamed if you really don’t understand what Ms. Provenchers is talking about.

          However, as the sensible human being that I assume you to be, now that you know that Ms. Provenchers’s story is outside of your experience, I expect you to listen and learn something about the evils that some people experience at the hands of others.

  10. I don’t know if Donna is reading these comments but I just wish I could hug her. Donna, I believe you and I’m so sorry this happened to you. I don’t want it to sound as though I am making light of this situation but you obviously have a powerful voice – exactly why the enemy would take such pains to try to shut you down. We artists and writers have a prophetic call that is dangerous to the enemy and powerful at the service of Christ. That may not be any comfort now but keep it in your back pocket as a truth to lean on if it does in the future. God bless and may St Kateri kick his ass.

  11. I have met men like this, and honestly wonder if they are possessed. One of them also turned out to be a child molester as well as an abuser of women. I know this is going to sound hokey but I encountered a very evil presence in the apartment he lived in.

    Prayers for all involved, and gratitude for for these brave women that have the courage to put it all out there to help others. I’m so sorry they had to suffer like this. God will bring good from this evil.

    1. I will second the “possessed ” comment.
      And according to the article that Jonathan wrote about narcissist men he also feels that evil within him.
      It is the kind of evil that is set on absolutely destroying the life of others and to leave them mostly dead if not completely dead.

    2. I know the feeling. Right now I’m grappling with the reality that my ex-husband is almost certainly going to hell. Yes, in theory there’s still time for him but he has only gotten worse over the years, so it’s not looking good. It’s crazy to think I was arm’s-length away from a damned soul just a few weeks ago … chilling.

  12. What the heck is “Sick Pilgrim”? Mass, prayer, sacraments, solid spiritual reading. Skip the social media (and the pop culture you’ve been ingesting). It’s toxic.

      1. Good point. I clicked on a link to this thinking it was to a story at an online newspaper. Nope, just the one-sided airing of grievances for all the world to read.

        1. I must’ve clicked the same link and I honestly never heard of this “Sick Pilgrim” thing. It seems like a gaggle of dysfunctional people that was destined to unravel in this sort of fashion. This and part 1 read like a pack of 7th graders and their dramatic exchanges with one another.

  13. Most likely a narcissistic personality disorder. Stay far far away, and just be glad you didn’t marry him. Don’t get sucked back in. NO CONTACT.

  14. Thank you so much to Donna, Jessica and Simcha. This takes so much courage. Spiritual abuse is a heinous act and it is rampant!
    Please continue to cling to the Sacraments because Jesus is there for real. Ladies, I love you as a sister in the body of Christ. We shall overcome.

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