This weekend Fr. Barrow, Seminarian Dan Mahoney, Youth Activities Coordinator, Billy Burdier and many members of our OLM Youth Group are attending the Steubenville East Youth Conference being held at UMASS Lowell. They return late on Sunday night. Each summer, Life Teen hosts six different Steubenville Youth Conferences across the country. These gatherings are meant to strengthen and inspire teens and youth groups in their relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. It is an opportunity for hundreds of young Catholics from across the Northeast to gather together for a weekend of engaging liturgies, inspiring music, prayer, devotion and challenging talks. Pray for them that this time is spiritually fruitful.
This week our good Franciscan Apostolic Sisters, Sister Lourdes and Sister Emma, along with the FAS Sisters from Scalabrini Villa depart for their Annual Retreat. This year the FAS Sisters from across the country are gathering in Peoria, Illinois for spiritual conferences and community meetings. The Sisters depart in their van early on Monday morning for the long journey to Peoria and return to OLM on July 31st. Keep them and the entire FAS Community in your prayers during this time of renewal. May their retreat be uplifitng and may God guide and protect them in their travels.
A letter from Bishop Tobin announcing the publication of a list of clergy credibly accused of the abuse of minors was in last weekend’s bulletin. This is part of the Diocese of Providence ongoing efforts and commitment to transparency, accountability and the hope of continued healing for the survivors of abuse. The list is available for a full review on the Diocese of Providence’s website.
As a priest I am painfully aware of the shame that has come upon our Church due to the sexual abuse of minors. I ask forgiveness again for the failings of those clergy and bishops who should have provided for the safety of our young people but instead betrayed the trust placed in them by God and by the faithful. We must recommit ourselves to vigilant prevention and also heartfelt prayer for the healing of the many victims and their families.
Sadly this list reveals that the evil of abuse took place in our own parish in the 1960s. Named on the list is Brendan Smyth, a Norbertine priest from Ireland, who served at OLM from 1965 until 1968. Tragically his many victims include people living in our community and parish. Smyth died in prison in 1997.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse, or has knowledge of such abuse, by any priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Providence, I urge you to report the information directly to the RI State Police or the RI Attorney General’s Office. Also anyone may contact, Dr. Michael Hansen at the Office of Outreach and Prevention to learn about pastoral outreach programs or Kevin O’Brien at the Office of Compliance, to report abuse or learn more about the prevention of abuse.
The Church has made great strides in addressing the evil of sexual abuse of minors. New policies introduced over 20 years ago include background checks, educational and training prevention programs as well as outreach efforts to victims. The Diocese is continually evaluating its policies and practices to ensure that our child protection and abuse prevention efforts are further strengthened. These measures have been effective, both to respond to victim-survivors with compassion and to prevent, as much as possible, incidents of abuse from occurring in the future. Still, we must continue to be ever vigilant in order to make certain that the failings of the past are not repeated.
I pledge that I will do all in my power as Pastor of OLM to ensure the safety of our young people. Pray that our efforts might help bring peace and consolation to victim-survivors and their families who have experienced the horror of abuse. Let us affirm once again the central reality of our faith—that the Lord Jesus through His Cross has brought us to the new life in the Resurrection—we live as people of hope in the face of all the evil and sin we find in our world, and sad to say, even in our Church. Let us pray for continued safety, justice and healing for all. Be well. Do Good. God Bless!