Browsing Pastor's Corner

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

Mar 26, 2019


Back in February at the end of Pope Francis’ meeting with bishops from around the world on the sexual abuse crisis he spoke about how the problem of abuse is very pervasive in our society. Some detractors accused the pope of trying to deflect criticism on the issue with claims that “well it happens everywhere.” I don’t feel that was his purpose at all. I believe Francis was trying to help by warning everyone to learn from the mistakes of the Church. I feel he was trying to help everyone be aware of the need to be vigilant about the risks for sexual abuse in every environment.

That is the motivation behind the US Conference of Catholic Bishops designation of April as Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. They want to help everyone to learn from the mistakes of the Church and how to be vigilant in fighting child abuse of all kind in all environments.

In the spring of 2018, the Catholic Bishops updated the 2002 Dallas Charter to prevent child abuse in the Church to be even more comprehensive. Despite what you might hear in the media the charter has been a resounding success. In the last six years there has been only six new cases of sexual abuse reported in the entire church in the United States. Most of the reports of instances of sexual abuse we hear about in the media were committed before 2002. The protocols requiring the setting up of Offices of Safe Environments in each diocese, the screening of every person having contact with minors in every parish and abuse prevention education for every minor in Catholic schools and parish faith formation program has been effective.

While progress has been made everyone needs to remain vigilant. Even one life of an innocent child scared by physical or sexual abuse is one too many. I particularly feel we need to constantly be aware of the sin of abuse. Beginning last fall I made it a practice to use the Ember Days at the turn of each season as my personal time of prayer and fasting to ask God to remove the scourge of abuse from the Church. I thank the many parishioners who have joined me in this action. I intend to continue the practice on a quarterly basis.

The bishops encourage the use of Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month to raise awareness on five important points.
Help parents to develop a loving and appropriate relationship with their children.
Teach their children safety.
Know who has access to your children.
Learn the warning signs of abuse.
Help us know that when it comes to signs of abuse trust your instincts.

Next Sunday, April 7, 2019, Bishop Edgar da Cunha, S.D.V. Bishop of Fall River will be celebrating a Mass of Atonement to commemorate Abuse Prevention Awareness Month at St. Mary’s Cathedral at 10 am.

The Hardest Part of Being a Christian
The hardest part about being a Christian is the call to forgiveness. That is what Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill wrote in a short reflection for America Magazine earlier this Lent. She said forgiveness is the hardest imperative of our faith. We know that we shouldn’t hold grudges and resentment but it is actually very satisfying to stack them up and claim a moral superiority over those who have hurt us. But she said the psalmist recognized in Psalm 130 that without God’s forgiveness we can’t even stand. God’s refusal to track our sins and iniquities enables us to not be crushed by the weight of sin. Thankfully God doesn’t give us what we deserve but mercy. It’s really unfortunate that we don’t take more advantage of God’s forgiveness.

Next Sunday, April 7, 2019 the parish will hold its Lenten Reconciliation Service at 4 PM. There will be several priests available to hear parishioner’s confessions and the First Reconciliation class will celebrate the sacrament for the first time. Plan to celebrate Reconciliation with us in preparation for Easter.

Celebrating the Season of Lent
Today is Laetare Sunday. The name Laetare comes from the Latin word for “rejoice”. That rejoicing is reflected in the rose vestments worn by the priest today. We are at the midpoint of the Lenten Season as we enter the fourth week of Lent. Next week Fr. Sullivan will return to wearing purple but it is a lighter shade. You will also notice in the prayers said at Mass today and in the last weeks of Lent a change of tone. They will be taking on a sense of joyful anticipation at the approach of the Easter Triduum. As we move closer to those days when we commemorate the salvific passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ we should begin to feel excitement.

As Lent approaches its climax we need to continue to practice the disciplines of fasting, almsgiving and prayer to help us become more aware of the needs of the poor and our need to imitate the example of Jesus Christ more fully. The parish continues to offer several opportunities to put the Lenten disciples into action:

Lenten Folders-Parishioners received a Lenten Folder before Lent began. We ask you to put aside a quarter a day for a total of $10 over the entire Lenten season. Your donation will be combined with those of other parishioners’ and sent to Food for the Poor to build a modest home for a family in Haiti. The cost of a home is $3,600. Last year parishioners donated $4,000. A poster with a picture of the Montrevil Family of Plaine Du Nord, Haiti in front of the house we built for them is at the front of the church by the baptistry. Come take a look. How about building two homes this year? Additional Lenten folders are available to be picked up at the back of the church. Beginning on Palm Sunday we will have collection boxes at the front of the Church to collect your completed folder.

Friday Program-On the Friday afternoons of Lent we recite the devotion of the Stations of the Cross in the Church at 4:30PM. Each week a different parish ministry will lead the recitation of the Stations. The version of the Stations used will reflect the theme of their work. This Friday the Stations will be led by Care for Our Common Home Study Group. They will be leading a set of Ecology Stations of the Cross. Praying the Stations usually lasts about thirty minutes. After the Stations you are invited to share a simple supper of soup, bread and beverage. Following the meal, a short twenty to thirty-minute presentation of a segment of Bishop Robert Barron’s program, Priest, Prophet, King, will be offered. Come join us for all or any part of the program.

Cape Cod-A Nation of Immigrants, Building Communities of Welcome”
No issue is gripping our national conscientiousness more today than the immigration issue. To try to foster a greater understanding of this topic the Faith Community Nursing Program at St. Peter’s Church, 11 Prince Street, Provincetown is sponsoring a panel discussion on the issue, Sunday. March 31, 2019, at 6:00 PM. Panelists are Rev. Richard D. Wilson, Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Fall River, G. Thomas Ryan, Chair of the Migrant and Refugee Committee of the Cape Cod Council of Churches and Collin Mickle an immigration lawyer with the Community Action Committee Cape and The Islands. For more information call: Eileen Cabral at 508-487-1630.

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