Parish Voice and Affiliate Updates
From the Parish Voice office
Voice of the Faithful learned recently of SNAP’s award
to VOTFer Jim Alvord of Bridgeport, CT VOTF. At SNAP’s
mid-Atlantic regional conference, Jim was awarded the
Survivor’s Lifeline Award. Mary Ann Keyes, national
chair of Parish Voice, made the following announcement:
The Parish Voice team asks all of our members to join
us in congratulating Jim Alvord, the Regional
Coordinator from the Diocese of Bridgeport, on the occasion
of his being recognized for the support he has given
to survivors of sexual abuse. The Survivors Lifeline
Award was presented to Jim by SNAP at its mid-Atlantic
Regional conference on Saturday September 25th at Norwalk
Jim came to Voice of the Faithful early on. He, Joe
O’Callaghan and others began talking about starting
an affiliate in June of 2002. Jim attended the National
Conference in Boston in July and upon returning to his
parish in the Diocese of Bridgeport, he joined other
supporters to form a Parish Voice affiliate at St Jerome’s
in Norwalk. They had the support of their pastor, but
the day after the notice of their first meeting appeared
in the bulletin, a parishioner called the chancery in
Boston to ask if Cardinal Law approved of Voice of the
Faithful. Imagine that!! On August 12, 2002, Jim and
the other leaders in his affiliate met with the pastor
and two of Bishop Lori’s representatives. They were
told they were good people, but could not meet on church
property if they were associated with Voice of the Faithful
in Boston. Since then, that diocesan affiliate has met
in the First Congregational Church on the Green in Norwalk.
Despite the ban in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Jim has
continued to work tirelessly to bring Voice of the Faithful
to many in Connecticut. Most recently he was part of
a team with others from NY and MA who are offering training
to others in grassroots organizing. Several of the CT
group were in Boston two weeks ago for a day of training.
Joe O’Callaghan, leader of VOTF in the Diocese of Bridgeport
until recently, said of Jim: “He has been a tireless
leader and he always reminds us of our first goal. Jim
has reached out to a number of survivors and has supported
many through all of their struggles. He was involved
in helping SNAP get started in CT and has always encouraged
members to donate to SNAP.”
We are proud of all that Jim has done in his very public
support for survivors and we congratulate him on this
wonderful recognition by SNAP!
MORE from Parish Voice:
an effort to better support our Affiliates, the Parish
Voice National Team has reorganized. Mary Ann Keyes
will be the contact for the Central and East regions,
Suzy Nauman is the contact person for the South and
Alice Campanella is the contact for the West. If you
have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to get
in touch with the contact person for your region.
Keep the faith, change the Church.
Alice Campanella email@example.com;
Mary Ann Keyes firstname.lastname@example.org;
Suzy Nauman email@example.com;
Sept. 11, 2004 the MA-NY Hands, MA-NY Hearts Leadership
Development Team held a day-long training in grassroots
community organizing for fifty VOTF leaders at St.
John’s in Wellesley, MA , birthplace of VOTF. Most
attendees were from MA and NY, and one third were
leaders from across the U.S., including four from
CA and one from WA. The collective energy and enthusiasm
from those gathered was wonderfully invigorating.
What a thrill it was to spend time with so many members
we had previously only met via email or telephone!
This was the first of what we hope will be many such
trainings over the next year. Stay tuned for training
opportunities in a U.S. region near you!
the month of September we brought on three more affiliates.
A hearty welcome to Northern Kentucky Voice of the
Faithful (Diocese of Covington), VOTF Venice, FL Area,
and from Canada (ta-dah!) VOTF Prince George. This
brings us to 211 Parish Voice Affiliates worldwide!!
VOTF Winchester, MA VOTF for August and September
Submitted by Bob Morris
The Winchester Area VOTF continued its weekly
meetings throughout August and September. Numerous
guest speakers discussed a wide array of issues
facing our Church. William Gavin of the Gavin
Group discussed the ongoing audits of dioceses
that he oversees for the Office of Child and Youth
Protection of the USCCB. Abuse survivor David
K. O’Regan described his painful journey of coming
to grips with his abuse over forty years ago.
Patricia Hayes, a pastoral associate in rural
Vermont, described the significant role she plays
in leading several parishes. Two deacons and their
wives discussed the role of the diaconate, present
and future. James Keenan, S.J., of the Weston
Jesuit School of Theology, delivered a paper on
the role of the priesthood. Last but by no means
least, Marina Wangh performed a one-woman play
she wrote regarding the abuse crisis, portraying
four persons whom she had interviewed (a survivor,
a priest, the parent of a survivor, a therapist).
Our group is also readying for sale its Christmas
cards, which raised $4100 for survivors last year.
Please visit www.votfwinchester.org
to view the cards, and print an order form. Contact
Bob Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any questions. Other initiatives,
such as a new means of supporting priests, and
a faith sharing program, are in the works.
Highlights in the coming weeks include talks by John
Allen, Vatican Correspondent for the National Catholic
Reporter, author and CNN Vatican analyst in Rome
(Sunday, October 17, at 7:00 p.m.); abuse survivor
Bergeron (author of Don’t Call Me a Victim)
(Monday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.); and Fr. Donald Cozzens,
of The Changing Face of the Priesthood (Thursday,
December 2, 7:30 p.m.). All meetings are at St. Eulalia’s
Church, 50 Ridge Street, Winchester. (Photo credits
Nelson E. Bolen)
Submitted by Carole Rogers
We continue to be committed to the education of NJ
Catholics and as we began our fall speaker series, more
than 120 people turned out to hear an excellent talk
by Rev. Anthony Ciorra, new Dean of the Graduate School
of Religion and Religious Studies at Fordham University.
Father Tony spoke about “A Spirituality for Times of
Transition” and reminded us that we, like the ancient
Israelites, live in desert times. We can also find comfort,
he said, in the New Testament account of the disciples
on the road to Emmaus. We need to be humble as we seek
answers, have hope as we struggle, and be rooted in
Scripture for the journey ahead. Our next two speakers
should prove equally enlightening: in October, Dr. Mary
Segers of Rutgers University and in November, Father
Eugene Lauer of the National Pastoral Life Center.
are also on the road toward a meeting with our new bishop,
Arthur Serratelli. First, two of our members were invited
to his installation and then three additional members
were invited to a preliminary meeting with the Vicar
General, Msgr. Herb Tillyer, and the Director of Communications,
Marianna Thompson. We remain hopeful that a meeting
with Bishop Serratelli will follow.
At its September meeting, our Structural Renewal Committee
undertook two new initiatives. Members are conducting
a survey of parishes in three New Jersey dioceses to
determine how many have pastoral councils and how those
councils function. Members are also investigating models
of good parishes, asking if there are alternative effective
ways of assuring lay pastoral participation.
Anthony Ciorra speaks at Assumption Church. Photo by
VOTF Harvard, MA
Submitted by Joanne Helhowski
St. Theresa, the Little Flower (Worcester diocese)
resumed meetings after the summer break. With the start
of our third year, in early September, we sponsored
our second annual fall mum sale for the benefit of the
victim and survivors organization. The fundraiser offers
our small parish an opportunity to show their support
for the victims of the clergy abuse. It was a huge success
and the profits realized enabled us to provide contributions
of $400 each to The Linkup and SNAP.
VOTF New Hampshire
Submitted by Anne Coughlin
The state of New Hampshire and the Diocese of Manchester
have gone to court over their differences regarding
the agreement both signed in December, 2002, which allowed
the Diocese to avoid criminal charges for their handling
of child sexual abuse allegations. New Hampshire Voice
of the Faithful has joined a group of about 30 individuals
and groups in filing a motion to intervene in the matter.
Note: We are grateful for Anne’s coverage of events
in NH. Because several matters are still pending, we
will have fuller coverage from NH in the future. Readers
might want to check www.nhvotf.org
for ongoing developments and www.bishop-accountability.org.
The latter offers a chronology of news coverage by diocese.
St. Christopher Parish Voice, Cleveland, OH
Submitted by Fred McGunagle
Donna Albertone, director of the Cleveland Diocese's
VIRTUS* program, was describing the 36,000 clergy, parish
and school employees and adult volunteers who have taken
the diocese's required course in preventing child sex
abuse. She spoke at the Sept. 9 meeting of the St. Christopher
They come reluctantly, grumbling under their breath,
she said. “They’re not happy,” Donna Albertone said.
“They are told they have to be there – ‘If you want
to coach your son’s football team, you have to come.’
But an hour into the session, the Holy Spirit has taken
over. They’re there because they’re a mother, a dad,
a grandmother. This is information they need as a caregiver.
That transformation takes over.”
Starting in January, her staff will begin training
children in parish schools and after-school religion
classes and will start evening sessions for their parents.
VIRTUS has been adopted by many US dioceses following
the USCCB Charter revision in November 2002 and the
approval of the Norms by the Congregation of for Bishops
in December 2002.
(The Diocese of Dallas, Texas, has implemented a diocesan-wide
program to educate the community and to prevent incidents
of child abuse. This program is called "Safe Environment
and Prevention of Sexual Abuse". The Archdiocese
of Newark, New Jersey, the Diocese of Austin, Texas,
and the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, are in
the process of implementing a prevention and education
program designed by the National Catholic Risk Retention
Group called "Protecting God's Children". Some
dioceses that have not yet started their programs are
using Cleveland’s as a model.)
The training is not just about clerical abusers, who
make up a tiny proportion of child molesters. It’s intended
to alert trainees to the warning signs of any predator
and teach them how to report them without making llegations.
“We view everyone as a potential child abuser,” she
said, “and everyone who comes into contact with a child
as a protector of that child. Predators love children,
and to a predator, love equals sex. It’s very easy for
a child molester to slip into a child’s life. The only
thing we can do is take away the opportunity to molest.”
The scandal showed that parishes were places where
children were particularly vulnerable to abuse. Now,
Albertone said, Cleveland parishes have a most thorough
is the brand name that identifies best practices programs
designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote "right
doing" within religious organizations. The VIRTUS
programs empower organizations and people to better
control risk and improve the lives of all those who
interact with the Church. The National Catholic Risk
Retention Group, Inc. (National Catholic) created
the programs. In March of 1998, National Catholic
invited prominent national experts—experts in many
disciplines—to discuss these questions at a forum
in Washington, D.C. From those discussions, the initiative
for the VIRTUS programs was created. The National
Catholic Board of Directors selected an Ad Hoc Committee
to oversee development of the programs. The Ad Hoc
Committee was assisted by a steering committee of
nationally known experts and program and service providers.
Information about the VIRTUS program, including warning
signs of predators and tips for protecting children,
is available at www.virtus.org.
VOTF Boise, ID
Submitted by Darlyne Pape
We continue to grow slowly within our one affiliate
here in Boise and we continue to enjoy a very positive
relationship with Bishop Driscoll and the diocese. During
the past few weeks, I was asked to write an article
on VOTF for our parish newsletter and we had an exhibit
table at the recent Fall Religious Education Conference
where we distributed materials and answered questions.
John Bieter, the co-founder of our affiliate, will be
teaching an eight-week course on Church History that
will be sponsored by seven local parishes. In addition,
I continue to serve on the Review Board and have been
asked to sit on the Diocesan Pastoral Council. In July,
we sent letters of support to all the priests receiving
new assignments* within the Diocese. We meet monthly
at one of the local parish centers.
*Some priests in our diocese routinely get new assignments
in July; they serve 6 years in a parish, and then consult
with the bishop if they want to remain in the same parish
for another 6 years or accept a new assignment. This
is the usual procedure. However, because of the decline
in the number of priests, adjustments need to be made
outside the 6 + 6 model. Also, we have a large Hispanic
population in certain areas and that necessitates assigning
clergy in those areas who are bilingual. A small number
of re-assignments are necessitated by priests leaving
on sabbatical or leaving the priesthood all together.
VOTF Detroit, MI
Submitted by Judy Szczesny
At our May meeting, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton spoke on
Vatican II and the role of the Laity. In June, we had
Dr. Carol Crowley speak on the "Lifelong Effects of
Sexual Abuse." Dr. Crowley counsels the abused. A member
of SNAP was at the meeting, and spoke of his ordeal,
as well as a priest/chaplain Fr. Don Worthy, who has
tried to talk to the cardinal and bishops in the archdiocese,
about the crisis; Fr. Worthy feels that they really
do not fully understand the extent of the damage done
to the victims and to the Church as a whole. As Father
Worthy says "They just don't get it."
In July we had two priests, Fr. Patrick Casey and Fr.
Tom O'Brien SJ., speak on the "Effects of the Abuse
Crisis." We had thought it would be a talk on how the
abuse crisis affected them, but they were more interested
in how it affected us, the laity.
We plan on having a Healing Service at Manresa, the
Jesuit Retreat House, in Feb. 2005. It will be in a
meeting room and modeled after a Healing Service done
in St. Paul, MN. We are hoping to have priests, nuns,
brothers and possibly a bishop there to apologize for
VOTF Atlanta, GA
Submitted by John Dearie
The officers of VOTF-Atlanta were busy during the summer
working with a professional to create a new, portal-type
website. It is now complete at www.votf-atlanta.org
and includes an interactive forum labeled "Atlanta Catholic
Voices" where local Catholics can voice their thoughts
and concerns. A moderator will oversee the site.
Our meetings continued through the summer but September’s
meeting had to be cancelled due to a tropical storm.
Meetings are planned for October 12th and November
8th. In October, we plan to show the video on the VOTF
Mass on the Common, and are looking for a guest speaker
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