Strengthening Our Parish Communities is the Calgary diocesan program to:
1. Build a new culture of safe environments for children, youth and vulnerable adults, and
2. Give the ministry of all volunteers, staff and clergy a greater sense than ever of being a calling. As the U.S. Bishops proclaim: “God wishes human beings to be his collaborators in the work of creation, redemption, and sanctification.”
CALLED TO PROTECTTM is Step Eight of the Ten Steps of Volunteer Screening, introduced as part of the overall program of Strengthening Our Parish Communities." Many of you now know that it is the formal name for a program of sexual abuse prevention, education and awareness. It is part of the package our diocese has purchased from U.S. based Praesidium Inc. Every parish has a binder full of videos and resources for workshops to develop safer ministries.
As Bishop Henry has explained to the priests, "Called To ProtectTM will be mandatory for all clergy, Catholic Pastoral Center staff and parish staff. It also will be mandatory for all adult lead volunteers in the parishes, including members of parish pastoral council and parish finance committees, and all those who volunteer with the vulnerable."
I have a personal bias towards our people getting together to take the training in a classroom format. Over and over again I have seen how the transformation to a new culture develops through watching the video and discussing with others from the parish community. It is within community that we build trust and understanding as we create safer and even more nurturing environments for everyone.
NEW NEWS ** We now have available to us an online version of Called To ProtectTM. As new volunteers enter ministries, it may be more practical and convenient for some to take the online modules covering the same material. The time required is about the same- two hours.
Your Parish Volunteer Screening Coordinator (or pastor or secretary) will have a password for you to access the system. Successful completion of the modules will be recorded so that we can accurately determine that all of our people have taken the training.
When I started participating in assisting with the Ten Steps process, I wasn't very good at responding to objections. Somewhere along the way, I realized that we were not just countering the negative but that we were starting something profoundly new and positive.
Bishop Henry points out that the night will end and that "It will be fully day for the Church of the elect when she is no longer darkened by the shadow of sin..." He goes on to identify our role in bringing about that new day: "... you are in a position to bring new credibility and energy to this critical task of healing and prevention." He echoes our Saviour, that "We must be the light of Christ ... Today's young people and vulnerable adults require our protection and guidance. Our brothers and sisters in Christ want assurance that the light is getting brighter and not dimmer." We are called, we are chosen, we are light. Shall we continue our calling together?
This article appeared on the November 2013 issue of the Carillon