Healing Circle Participant Testimony

The following testimony from Voice of the Faithful Healing Circle participants is understandably without attribution.

“As a survivor of clergy abuse, I highly recommend that victims and those concerned with victims and how the Church has dealt with us or not dealt with us attend one of these sessions. The caring, love and expressions of support I received at this circle will remain with me forever. As someone who cannot enter a Catholic Church without suffering flash backs the circle was therapeutic, welcoming and intensely spiritual. If you get the opportunity, please attend. It will enhance your journey towards healing.”

“I myself have participated in two RJ (Restorative Justice) Healing Circles as a clergy abuse survivor and can attest to the depth of its communication and its potential for personal breakthroughs via deep sharing.”

“The Healing Circle was the single most transformative healing experience since my own healing began.”

“The circle invited all of us to expose wounds to the extent that we are willing and able to do so … (there) was a natural respect for each speaker and I felt a thirst to hear each story … That spoke to me as a desire for unconditional healing for others, just as God has unconditional love for all.”

“The overwhelming positive aspect of the circle was that it was a very safe and supporting place.”

“I was surprised at how quickly people … felt safe enough to share their very intimate stories. We witnessed something remarkable … “

“The … Circle created a space for sacredness, safety, and community—one in which I experienced a kind of ‘mountaintop moment’ or peak experience.”

“(The Circle) was an affirming and important experience—one step in a lifelong process of healing and learning in community.”

“The Healing Circle planted a seed that will grow. It will grow because it is based on the truth, fueled by people quickly establishing trusting relationships within the circle … The Healing Circle is a sacred encounter that validates all experiences, recognizes the extent of communal pain in a way that touches the spiritual core of its participants and reignites a flame of hope.”

“I appreciated … the deep listening that allowed each of us to share and … to see, acknowledge and affirm harm done by sexual abuse in the Church and to imagine … (l)iving a new story in our individual lives and faith …”

“The Healing Circles address a huge gap in the Church’s support for those harmed by clergy sexual abuse.”

“(The Healing Circle) was the people of the church reaching out to other people in the church who have been so traumatically affected.” (Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, attributed because his remarks appeared earlier in his Peace Pulpit column in National Catholic Reporter.)

“Spending time in Circle with people who share a common hope, vision, goal is emboldening. Being for others, as well as having others be for me, is in and of itself healing.”

“I have come to realize … that I have experienced hurt in varying degrees on different levels as a result of the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The Circle gave me the ability to share another layer of harm and in sharing my story I healed a bit more.”

“I was especially struck by the depth of deep sharing from the beginning of the Circle. The participants exhibited a real need to tell their story. I sensed the presence of the Spirit throughout the entire experience. I feel a special connection to each of the participants.”

“Listening to the stories of victims of abuse was a very humbling experience. Being able to tell your story without being questioned or judged … was a healing experience for those who have been wronged.”

“To speak freely without a question being asked or a comment being made provided a sense of trust rarely felt when baring pain.”

“I am sitting in awe and wonder today thinking about the community of the faithful who came and journeyed together yesterday in the healing circle with your expert, sensitive, loving facilitation. A gathering of a priest who is a whistleblower speaking out about abuse in the Catholic Church and working to end it; a Dominican sister who has worked to remove priests who abuse children, led an office of victim services and has journeyed with many victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse to heal; a religious education teacher in a local Catholic parish; an active lay person who had been a Catholic seminarian; three victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

“I appreciated the sharing of our diverse experiences in the deep listening that allowed each of us to share and all of us to see, acknowledge and affirm harm done by sexual abuse in the Church and to imagine what can help now to live a new story in our individual lives and faith, in the Church and in society.

“As I said yesterday, the biggest harm for me as a victim was that no one had the power to protect me and no one came who could see me, understand what happened, stand by me, restore me as a child of God welcome in the Church and in society and work to make the Church a safe and sacred place. The healing circle yesterday offered me that experience for which I am grateful.”