Training sessions will be held this fall in the diocese of Saskatoon regarding safeguarding policies and responding to sexual abuse

Cathedral of Holy Family in Saskatoon (Photo by Timothy Yaworski)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Training sessions being held this fall in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon will provide history, context, clarity and tools related to implementing the diocesan policies for preventing and dealing with sexual abuse or other serious misconduct.

Three training sessions were planned in three different locations – Humboldt, Kindersley and Saskatoon – to be conducted by Theresa Campbell, Director of Operations at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, and Lorie Harrison, Registered Professional Counsellor at Legacy Ridge Trauma Recovery and Resource Centre. For those in the diocese unable to attend any of the three sessions in person, there will also be an option to join the meetings via web conference.

“We continue to grow and learn about the priority of being victim and survivor focussed,” said Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen “I encourage anyone who has experienced abuse by persons in the church to come forward. I commit as bishop to bring to bear the support of our church and diocese to respond to victims and survivors of serious misconduct and sexual abuse by persons in the church.”

To report abuse:  Information

Updated safeguard policies released this summer in diocese of Saskatoon:  News item

Diocesan safeguarding policies:  WEBSITE

Providing training is one of the steps that the diocese of Saskatoon has put in place to actively address the issue of protecting children and the vulnerable, to respond to reports of abuse, and to ensure safe church environments for all.

“We have updated the diocesan Covenant of Care policy and our reporting protocols to make them more accessible and more supportive,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, Chair of the Diocesan Advisory Council for Covenant of Care in the diocese of Saskatoon. “We are continuing our education and our roll out and full implementation of the policy, including providing training for clergy, lay employees, and volunteers in the diocese.”

Brenda Fitzgerald, Chair of Diocesan Advisory Council for Covenant of Care, Serious Misconduct and Code of Conduct in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon (Submitted photo)

 

Topics to be covered at the diocesan training sessions on the Covenant of Care and safeguarding policies include:

  • Understanding the Trauma of Sexual Abuse
  • The Experience of Victims and the Path to Wellness
  • Initial Response to Victims and Ministry to Survivors
  • Policy/Roles and Responsibilities
  • Process/Algorithm for reporting
  • Next steps for individuals and parishes

“These training events are an essential feature of the implementation of our expanded protocols regarding our safe environment protocols, which we call our ‘Covenant of Care’,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen.

The Covenant of Care policy states: “The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon will provide opportunities for holistic, ongoing formation – spiritual, intellectual, human, and pastoral – recognizing increasingly complex needs, and emphasizing the human dimension. Training and formation related to the Protocol will include sensitizing members of the clergy and employees to the nature of sexual abuse and its effects, and learning how to walk and work with victims.”

The bishop emphasized that the updated diocesan policies comply with the national CCCB document Protecting Minors from Sexual Abuse (2018) in a strong commitment to ensure that training will address matters such as the experience of victims, the impact of abuse on families and communities, detection of abuse, ministry to survivors, and relevant laws.

“I encourage anyone who has experienced abuse by persons in the church to come forward. I commit as bishop to bring to bear the support of our church and diocese to respond to victims and survivors of serious misconduct and sexual abuse by persons in the church.” – Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon

“We are working to provide resources that will help us all to foster attitudes and behaviours necessary for inspiring compassion for victims, correcting myths, overcoming stigmas associated with being a victim of sexual abuse, and for long-term safeguarding against sexual abuse,” Hagemoen said, quoting the policy.

The training will also address what to do if a person comes forward with a report of abuse, including parish and diocesan intake and reporting procedures, contacting police, and transparent procedures and progression.

The updated policies in the diocese of Saskatoon include an expanded reporting procedure, with options for reporting to a diocesan Intake Officer. In addition, in every parish, there is a Parish Coordinator of Care (PCC) to assist in the implementation of the safe environment protocol, and to also assist with the receiving and communicating of reports or allegations of abuse.

Informing and encouraging reporting to the police is one of the steps in the process of handling a report of sexual abuse.

Counselling and pastoral services will be made available to the victim, parents and family members. A diocesan Victim Support Coordinator will provide support and assistance to those who bring forward allegations of serious misconduct, including sexual abuse. Options for those making a report include having a support person present, and being provided with access to counselling, including the availability of a female counselling person.

The training sessions across the diocese are timely and needed, given the updated policies and the ongoing need to be vigilant and pro-active to protect the vulnerable and to safeguard everyone in safe church environments, said Hagemoen.

Training sessions will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Thursday, Nov. 14 – Kindersley (Kindersley event CANCELLED as of Nov. 12)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 26 – Humboldt – St. Augustine Parish, 809-10th, Humboldt, SK
  • Tuesday, Dec. 3 – Saskatoon – Holy Family Cathedral, 123 Nelson Rd, Saskatoon, SK

Clergy, parish staff, Catholic Pastoral Centre staff, Parish Coordinators of Care, and high-risk volunteers are being asked to attend one of the three workshops, or to participate in the web conference option. Other volunteers are also welcome to attend. There is no cost.

Lorie Harrison, a Registered Professional Counsellor at Legacy Ridge Trauma Recovery and Resource Centre, will be one of the facilitators offering the training at sessions across the diocese of Saskatoon. (File photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News, taken at vicarious trauma workshop in January 2019)

“I am grateful to our staff and Advisory Council members for our Covenant of Care and safe environment work, as we continue to build and expand our training and policies to assure that our Churches are safe and supportive places,” said Hagemoen.

“As we respond to the great need to carry out and expand our ministry programs in our churches – especially with youth and vulnerable people – it is my hope that our employees and volunteers will fully support our ministries and support to people in need. I also hope and commit that our diocese will provide the education and training so that our employees and volunteers – clergy and lay – will be well supported to carry out these needed activities on behalf of our churches.”

Register for the training workshops online at: https://form.jotform.com/92835647096268 

(You can also find the link in an article posted on the front page of the diocesan website: or for more information about registering, contact Andrea Alas at (306) 659-5831 or aalas@rcdos.ca)

 

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