Our OLM Youth Group went kayaking for a day down in Wakefield.
Our OLM Youth Group went kayaking for a day down in Wakefield.
Our Annual OLM School Faculty Retreat at Enders Island.
The following article appeared in the Providence Sunday Journal, August 26, 2018.
Let’s acknowledge the irrefutable: Child abuse is insidious and arises from circumstances that repel the sympathy and understanding of all. The recent grand jury report from Pennsylvania has reopened the wound and the history of the Catholic church’s role in this crisis.
However, in examining any situation, it’s important to be fair and accurate. The recent and justifiable anger has clouded civil discourse and distorted local history. Any reasonable, factual examination will yield a conclusion that, while Rhode Island has experienced its own well-documented abuse crisis (widely reported in this newspaper), in the decades since that period our diocese has implemented strong and effective methods to confront the problem. In sum, Rhode Island is not Pennsylvania.
As the director of the Diocesan Office of Compliance, and a 23-year veteran of the Rhode Island State Police, I have as good a view as any of our diocese’s response to this crisis.
Nearly 10 years before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ adoption, in 2002, of a formalized Charter for the Protection of Children, the Diocese of Providence was already taking steps on the crisis. In 1993, it took the unprecedented step of establishing my office, and hired a trained law enforcement investigator and former lieutenant of the Massachusetts State Police to run it.
For the past quarter-century, this office has vigorously, tenaciously and transparently conducted investigations, background checks and training to protect all within our care. Moreover, we are always improving our procedures. These efforts are not widely understood by the public because they receive scant attention.
For two decades, every allegation received by my office, regardless of credibility, has been promptly and fully reported to law enforcement. This cooperative approach allows the police complete freedom and independence to conduct an objective investigation, and to convict and punish criminals.
Independently, our Advisory Board — which has included a former Rhode Island attorney general, a former major in the state police, a former R.I. child advocate and a former director of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families — assesses cases and makes recommendations to the bishop regarding an accused person’s suitability for ministry. Any allegation credibly established — regardless of when it occurred — results in permanent removal from ministry.
There is also much activity to prevent abuse. More stringent procedures have been implemented for seminarian selection. My office annually conducts over 4,000 Bureau of Criminal Investigation Checks, as well as Safe Environment Training Programs for everyone who has regular conduct with children. These are renewed every three years.
Finally, we are always looking to improve and implement best practices. In 2016, following the events at a private, non-Catholic school, we worked voluntarily with the state attorney general to establish formalized reporting protocols and more supplemental transparency, which exceeds the requirements set forth in the Rhode Island General Laws.
These policies and procedures have produced significant and positive results. But this is not to say that we are complacent with our effort, or that bad people still can’t do bad things. However, significant and measurable progress has been made, as evidenced by statistics showing that the overwhelming majority of claims are from behavior many decades ago.
I spent over 20 years proudly serving as a member of the Rhode Island State Police. When I signed on as the director of the Diocesan Office of Compliance, I knew the history of the abuse crisis. Because of my work as a detective commander, I was cognizant of the dependable and trustworthy reputation established by the Office of Compliance since 1993.
In large measure, sustaining, advancing and improving its tradition was the most attractive feature of this job. Now, and in the future, we all need to strengthen our resolve to protect children. Yet we also need to push back on any narrative or notion that Rhode Island is Pennsylvania — for that ignores the tremendous efforts of many to address the ills of the past.
On Monday, August 13th members of the OLM Confirmation Class helped pack backpacks with school supplies. This Annual OLM Outreach effort helps the students and families of St. Patrick Parish in Providence prepare for the upcoming school year. The much needed supplies were generously donated by the parishioners of OLM Parish. The Confirmation candidates packed up nearly 200 backpacks with the bulk of them going to St. Patrick's Parish. The remainder are to be distributed locally by the OLM Outreach Office. We commend our Confirmation candidaets for their good work and OLM Parishioners Kathy Hall and Mary Anne Weaver for coordinating the project. We also thank the many parishioners who so genersouly supported the Backpack Drive with supplies and financial donations.
On Sunday, August 12 at the 10:30am Mass, Bishop Evans celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for OLM Parishioner Laura Makin. Laura, who graduated from Providence College in May, enters her year of postulantcy for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia in Nashville on August 15th, the Solemnity of the Assumption . She is the daughter of OLM Parishioners, Thomas and Elizabeth Makin.
Dominican Friar Fr. Patrick Mary Briscoe, OP, the Associate Pastor at St. Pius V Church in Providence, preached the Mass and Fr. Peter Martyr Yungwirth, OP, Chaplain at Providence, concelebrated along with Fr. Bernard Healey, Pastor of OLM, and Fr. Ryan Connors, Professor of Moral Theology at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, MA. Sr. Maria Francesca, O.P. , Principal at St. Pius V School and local superior along with other Dominican Sisters from St. Pius V School and Providence College joined in celebrating Laura's vocation at the Mass.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are commonly called the Nashville Dominicans. The Dominican Order was founded 800 years ago by St. Dominic and the Nashville Congregation was founded in 1860 with the arrival of the first four sisters in Nashville, their early work, and the establishment of St. Cecilia Academy. Over their 150 years there has been an observable growth in the life and vitality of the young community.
The Congregation has experienced 64% growth since the year 2000 with 300 sisters in the community, the largest ever in their history. The median age is 36 with 58% of the Congregation under the age of forty. With an average of 18 young women entering the convent as postulants each year, the novitiate has an average of fifty sisters. The Congregation has expanded its apostolate to 33 schools located in the United States, including the Congregation’s own college in Nashville. The sisters are also present in 10 schools located in Rome and Bracciano, Italy; Sydney, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; the Diocese of Aberdeen, Scotland; Diocese of Roermond in The Netherlands and the Diocese of Limerick, Ireland. Here in Rhode Island they administer and teach at St. Pius School.
The Mother House of these good sisters is located on thirty-two acres located in downtown Nashville, St. Cecilia Motherhouse is an oasis on the north side of a busy southern city. St. Cecilia Motherhouse was completed in 1862. Additions in 1880, 1888, 1904, and 2006 completed the building. Today it houses the sisters in formation in the novitiate, the sisters who administer and teach at schools in Nashville, sisters who serve the community through specific duties at the Motherhouse, and many retired sisters.
The Constitutions of the Congregation state: “ Wishing to follow Christ more freely, we tend toward holiness by a narrower path. The consecrated life is the fruition of the baptismal grace. The consecrated virgin is set apart for the Lord. The voluntary gift of self by which we devote ourselves to God and strengthen our brethren becomes the source of tranquil peace. By our consecrated life we teach the way to holiness and joy.”
During her postulancy, Laura begins a year of immersion into the life of her new religious family. She attends all community prayers and practices the monastic customs that are a part of our life. During this year she becomes acquainted with the basics of Dominican spirituality and history, along with the charism of our Congregation.
We congratulate Laura on her decision to pursue her vocation to the consecrated life. May God continue to bless her and the Nashville Dominican Sisters with joy, faith, hope, and love!
This past weekend the OLM Youth Group was in Lowell, Massachusetts for the annual Steubenville East Youth Conference. We brought eight High Schoolers, three chaperones (including our summer seminarian Patrick Ryan and our Youth Coordinator Billy Burdier).
Every year there is a different theme. This year the theme was "Revealed" as used in the Scripture passage from 1 John 4:9: "In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him." Throughout the weekend the kids attended concerts, conferences and talks. The celebration of Mass took place each day. Especially edifying was the practically constant possibility for the youth to go to Confession. It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of kids went to Confession over the three days of the Conference. It was a great weekend for the kids to grow in their faith and to see how God works in their lives. We wish to thank everyone who supported the Youth Group to make this trip possible!
Seven of our OLM Senior Altar Servers have graduated high school. We thank them for their service to the parish at God's Holy Altar.
OLM’s Young Families group wrapped up another year on Thursday, May 17 with pizza and the Rosary at Blue Beach in North Kingstown. Monthly gatherings will resume again next October. We look forward to seeing you in the fall!
On Thursday, May 10, OLM School and Parish welcomed close to 300 grandparents from near and far for the school’s fourth annual “Grandparents Day” celebration. The day began with 9:00 Mass to mark the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord which was celebrated by OLM Pastor Father Bernard Healey. Following the mass, the students and their guests visited the school for a variety of activities including a reception in the cafeteria, school tours, and special presentations in the classrooms.
Led by the individual classroom teachers, students sang prepared songs, played games and took photos with their grandparents and special guests. Students in Mrs. Nygren’s fifth grade classroom were treated to a game of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” based on the popular game show of the same name. As many of the grandparents realized, the students came out ahead in their knowledge in many subject areas! While many students and their families are fortunate to have grandparents throughout Rhode Island and nearby region, some must travel great distances to spend the day.
This year, one grandmother, Delia Campion, came all the way from Ireland to share the celebration with granddaughter Allison who is in seventh grade. Richard and Debbie Knudson made the trip from Scottsdale, Arizona to share the day with grandson Benjamin who is in third grade. Whether from Rhode Island, in the western U.S. or across the Atlantic, all OLM grandparents agreed it was a wonderful celebration with their grandchildren and a great opportunity to visit their wonderful school.
We offer our prayerful congratulations to the 64 children from the OLM Religious Education Program and OLM School Second Grade who celebrated their First Holy Communon today.
Our Lady of Mercy School’s Science Olympiad Team, made up of 16 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, placed fourth in the state at the RI State Science Olympiad Competition at Rhode Island College on Saturday, April 21. With medals in three events, including two golds, OLM finished in the top 10 or higher in 17 of the 22 events, with 25 teams competing. Points are awarded based on the teams’ finish in each event.
Led by OLM Middle School Science Teacher Dr. Deborah Husak, the team has been preparing since the fall under the additional guidance of OLM parents and friends who volunteered their time as coaches. According to Dr. Husak, “one our many strengths was that we were able to compete in every event thanks to a lot of hard work on the part of our students and coaches.”
The 2018 OLM Team members included 8th graders Aidan Skidds (Exeter), Bryan Hong (Warwick) , Colin Butera (East Greenwich), Jake Rademacher (Warwick), Patrick Torres (North Kingstown), Santino Izzi (North Kingstown), Ryan Youngs (East Greenwich), Jackson Breiding (Warwick) and Grant Giguere 7th graders Deirdre Stockdill (Warwick), Jack Ciunci (East Greenwich), Jayci Izzi (North Kingstown), Luke Simms (East Greeenwich), Maddie Laviolette (North Kingstown),and Sophie Brunner (Warwick) and 6th Graders Christian Butera (East Greenwich), Ellla Reikhrud (Warwick), and Siena Vitucci (Warwick).
OLM Science Olympiad Medal Winners included; GOLD: Roller Coaster (Maddy Laviolette and Jayci Izzi) and Thermodynamics (Jackson Breiding and Patrick Torres) and SILVER: Crime Busters (Patrick Torres and Ryan Youngs)
In 13 years of competing with a full team in the state Science Olympiad, OLM has earned a reputation as one of the top teams in the state. They have won six state titles, including four consecutive from 2006-2009, and back to back titles in 2012 and 2013. The team has also placed second four times, in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2016.
OLM Basketball Wraps Up Season with
Annual Awards Banquet
The OLM Parish and School Basketball Program recently completed its season and by all accounts, it was another very successful season for the OLM basketball teams. Participating in the Catholic Athletic League (CAL), OLM fielded 10 competitive teams comprised of a total of 102 players. This included 7 school teams and three parish teams.
Saturday mornings in the OLM gym have traditionally featured the instructional league and this year was no different as 20 youngsters worked with volunteer coaches, learning the basics of the game. OLM had four teams play in the developmental league where records are not kept and 5 out of the 6 remaining competitive teams qualified for the state playoffs by finishing the regular season ranked in the top 4 of their respective divisions.
The Girls 7th/8th Grade School Team captured the D2 Grammar Division State Championship. The Boys Junior Division 1 Parish Team (6th grade) lost in the first round to top- ranked St. Augustine. The Boys Grammar D2 (7th grade boys) had a first round bye and lost a hard-fought battle to St. Peter’s in the semifinal. Finally, Boys Grammar D1 (8th grade) beat Good Shepherd in the opening round and then lost to St. Philomena in the semifinals.
At the OLM Basketball Awards Banquet on Sunday, April 8, each coach awarded a team MVP that was chosen by the team’s players. In addition, the Catholic Values Awards were given to honor those athletes who exhibited humility, sportsmanship, compassion and teamwork throughout the season. Those awards were chosen by the coaches of each team.
Prior to the banquet, players and their families attended mass together at OLM Church. The highlight of the evening came with Mr. David Lynch's speech at the end of the banquet where he honored the late Mr. Todd Youngs as the MVP for his 8th grade team. All 14 players voted for him, making him the unanimous winner. Todd served as an assistant coach for his son’s 8th grade team and was a head coach for several OLM teams over the past few seasons.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence celebrated the OLM First Friday School Mass on April 6th. The 4th Grade was the host class and did the readings. The OLM Students served the Mass and the OLM School Choir provided the beautiful music. The students presented the Bishop with birthday cards and gifts in recognition of his 70th birthday which was April 1st. Following the Mass, Bishop Tobin was treated to a Birthday Reception by the students, parents and faculty in the OLM School Gym including a "Pittsbugh Steeler MIter" Cake and a new Steeler jersey with his name and the number 701 Bishop then spent time visiting the classrooms where the 1st and 2nd Graders asked questions.
On Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Easter Vigil at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Father Bernard A. Healey, Pastor of OLM, baptized one adult into the Catholic Faith, received one non-Catholic adult into the Catholic Church and Confirmed several adults. We congradulate our newly intiated and offer our prayers and support as they come into the fullness of hte faith!
The annual OLM tradition of baking Easter cupcakes for McAuley House took place on Good Friday once again this year. Many of our candidates for Confirmation spent their Good Friday making and baking over 400 cupcakes for the homeless and hungry to enjoy on Easter Sunday. Great job by all of them!
OLM Girls 7th/8th Grade Team
Wins RI State CAL Championship
The OLM Girls’ 7th/8th Grade School Team completed its undefeated season with a 25-14 win over Monsignor Clarke School in the Catholic Athletic League (CAL) State Championship on Saturday, March 24 at St. Mary’s Academy BayView. The OLM Jaguars finished the year a perfect 14-0 and earned their second consecutive state title, with last year’s 5th/6th grade parish team winning the D1 Parish Division. The game was a defensive battle at both ends of the floor.
OLM led most of the way, but Monsignor Clark did not give up, pulling within six with just five minutes remaining in the game. OLM’s leading scorer was seventh grader Meghan Pagliaro (East Greenwich), who chipped in 17 in the victory. As the team only loses three players to graduation, they will be looking to remain in contention for CAL state honors again next season.
OLM earned its spot in the championship after a 12-0 regular season and a semifinal win over Immaculate Conception (Cranston) last Saturday, March 17 while Monsignor Clarke earned its spot with a semifinal victory over Blessed Sacrament.
The Frenchtown Cub Scout Pack 4 marked 50 years on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Scout Master Jason Clark served as the MC of the evening that celebrated fifty years of scouting with family, friends, scouts, civic officials, veterans and clergy at the OLM School Gym. Congratulations!
On Saturday, March 17th, Fr. Bernard A. Healey, Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church celebrated the Mass of the Feast of St. Patrick. Fr. David Gaffney, Rector of the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence, served as the homilist. Readings in the Irish language were offered by OLM Parishioner Sinead Campion, a native of Ireland. Irish hymns were sung and a reception featuring Irish Coffee and Irish Soda Bread followed.
On Monday, March 19th, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Evans of Providence celebrated the Mass for the Solemnity of St. Joseph in Italian. Fr. James Ruggeri, Pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Providence, offered the homily. Andrea Minopoli of La Masseria Ristorante on Main Street offered a reading in his native Italian and Dr. Anthony Bruzzeze offered a reading in Italian. OLM parishioners and guests enjoyed a reception with Italian Coffee and zeppole after the Mass!
Bishop Tobin celebrated the Rite of Election on Sunday, February 18 at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. With great joy we offer our congratulations to two of our RCIA candidates from OLM who are now called “the elect.” Our “elect” from OLM are Sue Healey, she is to be received into the Catholic Church, and Al Behbehani who is to be baptized and fully initiated into the Catholic Faith. These last weeks of Lent are a particularly intense period of prayer and preparation for these catechumens as they ready themselves for the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil Mass.