On 14 June 2016, the first graduating class of the intensive one-semester CCP course received their diplomas in a commencement ceremony at the Gregorian University. These alumni, a total of 19 men and women, went back to their home dioceses, communities, and schools around the world with a message of prevention and healing. The CCP has followed up to learn how they are doing. Their news is very encouraging and we are pleased to share it!
Six of the graduates went back to leadership positions in religious communities, where they are implementing safeguarding programs on an international level. Fr. Luigi, a Montfortian priest, has travelled around the world to oversee a community project called ‘Protecting the Vulnerable’. Recently, he traveled to India and Madagascar, working with confreres to create good guidelines. Sr. Agnes, has presented the work of child protection to the Association of Women Religious Institutes of Malawi, as has Sr. Mercy to the Zambian Association of Sisterhoods. Br. Fortune has spoken to the leadership of the Marist brothers, with over 70 in attendance from various African countries. Br. Victor has taken the message to the Brothers of Charity; he wrote to us from the Philippines where he participated in the General Congregation and is working on a commission on sexual abuse response and prevention. Fr. Gerardo has been collaborating on the renovation of human formation for the seminaries of the Legionaries of Christ—recently, in Spain he addressed consecrated members of the Regnum Christi on the suffering and consequences experienced by victims of sexual abuse.
We heard back from seven graduates who have begun or continued to organize educational activities in their dioceses. Fr. Gottfried is persevering in his work in the northern dioceses of Italy (and beyond), with numerous education initiatives and meetings, strategizing and working
in an advisory capacity as a psychologist. Fr. Toms has given conferences for priests and teachers in Latvia, addressing mistakes and leading an effort towards creating a safe environment for minors. Fr. Calisto, Sr. Joyce, and Sr. Damiana have cooperated together as a team in Kenya, where they addressed national diocesan representatives, held an event for canon lawyers, spoke to seminarians, and organized a major awareness event in the capital of Nairobi with 5,000 in attendance—indeed a great turnout! Fr. Bernard has also been hard at work in Kenya working to enculturate the e-learning program, addressing a gathering of 400 children, forming teachers, and addressing clergy on the responsibility to uproot the culture of silence. In Belgium, Fr. Patrick is continuing his work on the inter-diocesan committee for prevention and is using the film Spotlight as a tool to start discussions.
Many of the above-mentioned graduates also sent in an impressive list of their additional presentations in schools and seminaries; for some, it is their primary work. Sr. Jabu has been training child care workers as well as counselling abused children. Fr. Marreddy is a seminary professor and formator in Hyderabad, India and lectures on the safeguarding of minors. Sr. Henriette is working as director of a school in Congo. Rebecca continues on at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the CCP, working on a doctorate in Systematic Theology in dialogue with the research goals of the Centre.
Together with the positive message of all the work that has been accomplished, some of the alumni also shared their challenges. Fr. Emmanuel has returned to Tanzania, only to experience some resistance. Sr. Jabu has told us about the challenges of working where transparency is lacking and the law system is slow. Fr. Luigi has seen for himself those places where the Church needs a lot of support: ‘In India for example, being a minority, the Church runs the risk of falling into the temptation of keeping issues such as child abuse by the clergy a secret, for fear of repercussions. In Madagascar socioeconomic degradation may be part of the problem as it makes children and families more vulnerable to a range of abuse.’ We are reminded that the task of safeguarding is not often one where we see quick results, but need a lot of perseverance to continue the course. In this work a steadfast spirit is as essential the long list of projects to be done.
The CCP has been happy to welcome the return visits of those Diploma graduates who find themselves again in Rome, to share news and fellowship. As we prepare to welcome the next year’s class, the class of 2016 gives us great hope for our work and future.
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