(Photo : Marianne Kallini)
On Saturday, October 13, at St. Jude Sanctuary, parishes from across the diocese were invited to a training session on Responsible Pastoral Ministry. Since 2016, the Diocese of Montreal has taken steps toward helping protect vulnerable persons from all forms of abuse.
More than 40 parishes sent representatives to participate in this formation which was given by "Plan to Protect”, an organization that specializes in the prevention of abuse and the protection of vulnerable people. Calling in an organization such as this one is a way for the diocese to support the parishes by offering them effective and adapted policies, procedures and formations that will help them to ensure a safe environment and to protect all children, youth, people with handicaps and the elderly from all types of mistreatment.
Priests, religious brothers and sisters, lay people, pastoral agents, and children’s activities coordinators had the chance to participate in over two hours of formation based on the theme “planning to protect”. This formation was carried out in three phases.
The first phase aimed to sensitize the participants: who needs protection? What safety standards should be in place? What is each person’s spiritual responsibility?
They then broached the subject of how to protect vulnerable people. After defining violence and abuse, they went deeper into the different categories of violence: physical violence, sexual abuse, psychological violence, negligence (the most common in Canada), and financial abuse. Finally, the participants were invited to reflect on prevention in their parishes.
This formation which promotes guidelines that are somewhat strict on the point of security worried some of the volunteers. Marianne Kallini, Responsible Pastoral Ministry Coordinator reassured them, and invited them to read the diocesan guide to Responsible Pastoral Ministry that specifically addresses parishes and diocesan groups. “This document is adapted to the reality of the Church, particularly in matters of administrative obligations and volunteers”.
Between now and 2020, the diocese aims “to provide formation to all 192 parishes so that they adopt the rules and implement the screening process” says Marianne Kallini, “the diocese has doubled the diocesan service personnel so that we can go out and meet the parishes, sensitize them and identify a parish coordinator who will put the Responsible Pastoral Ministry Policy into place. All those we have met so far have become real partners”.
In fact, like the parish of Sainte Angèle, Father Yohann Leroux, accompanied by Catarina Staltai (events committee), came to create and coordinate a specific committee that would pass on what they learned to their volunteers. “It is important to give confidence to people, to Christians, and also to the world around us. It is also important to have the same plan for all the churches.”
The religious communities also recognize the importance: Sister Elisabeth Rousseau of the Fraternité monastique de Jérusalem was sent by the community to receive the formation in order to “speak to the brothers and sisters but also to the employees of the Sanctuary because they are in regular contact with many people”.
Everyone left full of goodwill and with a formation certificate.
A broad formation and a specific program that will allow the Catholic Church of Montreal to (re)gain the trust of everyone!