“The Keepers” on Netflix: Recommended with sadness

I finally finished watching Netflix’s seven-part-series, “The Keepers,” about the unsolved murder of a young nun in 1969. Sister Cathy Cesnik taught at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in Baltimore, Maryland. She disappeared in November, 1969 and her decomposed body was found the following January. The murder was never solved but two retired alumni of the high school and former students of the nun have relentlessly attempted to identify the killer/s.

The facts show that Father Joseph Maskell, a chaplain at the high school, had sexually abused a large number of the students. One of the victims had confided in Sister Cesnik who took initial steps to expose Maskell but then disappeared. There’s little doubt that priest Maskell orchestrated Cesnik’s death even if he was not the murderer himself.

This is gut-wrenching stuff. The sexual abuse of multiple girls at Archbishop Keough High School by Maskell and another priest sickens the soul. Then there was the murder. And finally there was the cover-up of Maskell’s abuse by the Baltimore Archdiocese and its subsequent legal battles with the victims.

My heart breaks for the victims of Father Maskell and for all the other victims of abuse within the Catholic church. The church definitely perpetuated the abuse through its clerical celibacy rule and by moving known predators from one parish to the next. I’m also very saddened that the Catholic church deceives its members with a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit rather than teaching them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I highly recommend this series although it’s difficult to watch. But the truths it reveals are so important.


A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.


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21 thoughts on ““The Keepers” on Netflix: Recommended with sadness

  1. Sadly, even in evangelical churches the leaders can fail to protect their flock in a similar way. When you’re saved by God’s grace, you’re forgiven for how you’ve mistreated others – all you have to do is to ask God to erase your sin and you’re good to go. The next time it happens, well, grace will forgive that, too. The elders of one church were once made aware of sexual abuse in their midst, instead of reporting to the authorities, they begged the victim to forgive her attacker as Jesus told believers to forgive seventy times seven and if she wouldn’t forgive him, Jesus wouldn’t forgive her. They did this over and over again until the statute of limitations expired; using their authority as leaders in the hierarchy of the church to protect the abusers. It wasn’t until one family went to the police anyway did any of this come out and on the stands, one of the pastors admitted that even though he was made aware of the abuse, and the right thing to do was to report it, he just didn’t. For decades, several abusers continued to abuse others with impunity in the name of grace and thanks to the protection of the elders at that church.


    1. Yes, abuse can be found everywhere, in secular and religious organizations and groups. But the magnitude of abuse within Catholicism sets it apart. Your disparaging remarks about the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone are sad. I’m praying for your salvation.


      1. Same magnitude? When we speak of the abuses of the Catholic church we must include all of the abuses and intolerances including clerical sexual abuse, the Inquisition, the crusades, forced baptisms, anti-Semitism, political and economic persecution of non-Catholics in Catholic countries.


      2. Protestants aren’t innocent of their predecessors’ crimes. It would be great if it worked that way – I’d create a branch called “Hopism” and say that I”m completely innocent of every bad things Christians of any stripe ever did in the name of Christ – but they happened, even if it wasn’t on my watch by people who claim to follow the same God that I do – guilty by association.


      3. I didn’t claim Protestants were sinless, I was addressing your claim that abuses within Protestantism were of the same magnitude as that of Catholicism. That would be like trying to compare my humble house to the Vatican. The most important issue is the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone, which Rome anathematized at Trent and which it continues to deny.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the bitter irony of Maskell having the title of “Father” was emphasized in the show. It was brought out that many of the victims had lost their faith in the church because of the abuse. Sadly, their faith was in an institution rather than in Jesus Christ.


  2. We ALL NEED to Pray for All our Devout Christian and Messianic Jewish Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus-Yeshua Everyday!! “Pray Without Ceasing.” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV )!!

    Love Always and Shalom ( Peace ) Everyone, YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have watched the docuseries three times now. I have tried to wrap my mind around the horror that these girls went through. I was sexually abused by 6 different men before I was 12 years old. When I finally got the courage to tell my mom what was going one with only ONE of the abusers she told me to “keep it quiet” so my grandmother wouldn’t be hurt. I was 12. And there is nothing scarier as a


  4. 12 year old than knowing that you have to protect yourself from the wolves that are at your door….because your mom wasn’t going to do anything about it. I knew in that instance that if she wasn’t going to do anything about the one I told her about….her stepfather….then she wasn’t going to do anything about the others either. These Keough girls are my heroes. They faced their demon….and they stood up to him and told the world what he had done and what those around him let him get away with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m very sorry you suffered abuse as a child. Yes, I am so happy that shows like this one are shining a spotlight on abuse so that more people are aware. Church spokespersons still try to minimize what happened.


      1. And that is what made so angry while watching the show. Everything they put Jean and Teresa through while defending that monster. Did you hear about a top cardinal in the Vatican being brought up on charges of child sexual abuse in Australia?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: Did you hear about a top cardinal in the Vatican being brought up on charges of child sexual abuse in Australia?

        Yes, I’ve been following the case for awhile and was going to post on it today. I think the scandal has pretty much run its course here in the U.S. but in Australia and Guam it’s front page news. Pell was initially accused of covering up the abuse of others but then victims came forward saying he was also a predator.


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