This is a time of change in our diocese, but also of celebration, for the Protection of Minors Diocesan Committee. We say farewell to Bishop Henry and welcome Bishop McGrattan. We also say goodbye to and thank Dave Wilson, our committee chair, who has provided outstanding leadership over the years.
It has been gratifying to have national and local newspapers recognize Bishop Henry’s care for the poor, and in particular, his leadership in founding programs for the homeless in our city.
Our particular cause for celebration is the success of the Protection of Minors initiative in the Diocese. This work has amply reflected Bishop Henry’s identification with those who particularly need our care and concern. Bishop Henry has consistently acknowledged that we must take action to restore the confidence of the world in our Church, as we are the face of Christ’s mission.
In February 2011, he launched our program to protect minors and vulnerable adults, under the diocesan banner of Strengthening Our Parish Communities. He has supported the transformation of how we run all of our diocesan programs. At the same time, the value of those in ministry has been enhanced to reflect their roles in keeping the vulnerable safe. In so many areas, great strides have been made to provide measures to protect the vulnerable:
- Screening of all, whether volunteers, staff or clergy, who serve the vulnerable
- Training in both child abuse prevention and elder abuse prevention
- Supporting pastoral care, especially of the elderly
- Ongoing efforts to end homelessness and provide affordable housing, such as Acadia Place and
- Offering strong programs like Elizabeth House, Feed the Hungry and Youth Ministry.
On the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis addressed the bishops of the world directly, “To contemplate the manger also means to be attentive and open to the pain of our neighbours, especially where children are involved. The same thing is asked of us pastors today: to protect from the Herods of our own time, those who devour the innocence of our children. Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children.”
The challenge for our committee has been that of educating parishioners with respect to the need to protect young people and vulnerable adults from any kind of abuse. We can safely rejoice in the development of awareness and success of the program. Today we can say with confidence that our leader has had that courage called for by Pope Francis. Again, we thank Bishop Henry!
For more information about the initiatives, including the online abuse prevention training, please contact your parish volunteer screening coordinator or call Deacon Stephen Robinson or Barbara Raleigh-Smith at (403) 218-5549 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.