October 1, 2014
Bishop Patrick J. Zurek has declared that October 2014 is Safe Environment Month.
“The Diocese of Amarillo is committed to ensure that everyone, especially our children, have the right to be safe, secure and protected from harm, whether sexually, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually, in any and all of our religious institutions.”
Recently a pastor told the story about an incident at his parish. A week after the Safe Environment training, a child told the teacher about abuse taking place at home. The matter was referred to the appropriate authorities and the abuse ended. The pastor’s response: “Just stopping the abuse of this one child was worth the effort.”
Several other pastors have mentioned that they too had children report different types of abuse to their faith formation teacher or aide and by doing so the abuse was halted. They attribute these reports to the safe environment training given in the parish to every child and youth as well as training for all adults working with children.
During the month of October, all Parishes and Catholic Schools must offer Safe Environment training to every child and youth who attends classes in Catholic Schools, Religious Education Programs and/or children and youth oriented activities. All appropriate Catholic Institutions must make every reasonable effort, and, if necessary, multiple efforts to provide opportunities for the children to attend Safe Environment classes.
Parents are encouraged to join their child and attend these classes.
If they choose they can view the approved diocesan materials Right Relationships on the Diocese of Amarillo website, www.amarillodiocese.org, under the Safe Environment tab.
Your Pastor, Faith Formation Director, Youth Director and CCD Teachers are responsible for implementation of Safe Environment training at the parish level. Every parish has access to the materials and resources necessary to ensure compliance and they must have, provide, offer and document safe environment training classes for every age group. This is for every Catholic Parish: there are no exceptions!
Bishop Zurek wishes to offer a special thanks to all Pastors, Principals, Christian Formation Directors/Coordinators, Youth Directors, Safe Environment Coordinators, Trainers, Teachers, Volunteers and Parents who worked so hard and continue to do so, year after year, to keep our parishes, schools and Catholic institutions a safe place for everyone, and most especially for our children.
For further information regarding Safe Environment, please refer to the Diocese of Amarillo website, www.amarillodiocese.org, under the Safe Environment tab.
Deacon Blaine Westlake is Director of Safe Environment for the Diocese of Amarillo.