New Safe Environment Program first implemented at Mongmong retreat

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By Umatuna Si Yu’os Staff

The Nuestra Señora de las Aguas Catholic Church in Mongmong held the first youth camp under the implementation of the Archdiocese of Agaña (AOA) Safe Environment Program. The retreat was held at the Mongmong retreat center from Thursday, Nov. 9 to Saturday, Nov. 11.

Leading the camp and the various teams as the retreat master was DonaMila Taitano, along with retreat assistants Jose Martinez and Susan Hilton.

The youth retreat leaders and servant team consisted of individuals from the Couples for Christ family ministries and volunteers from the parish.

Section VI Item 5 of the AOA Safe Environment Program provides detailed guidelines for ministry involving children and young people for overnight stays. According to the document, depending on the event or activity, it must be approved by the pastor of the parish, the superintendent of Catholic education, the Office of Safe Environment, and/or the principal.

In addition to the submission of the appropriate forms and documents which are required prior to the event, several factors are considered when determining the appropriateness of the overnight activity including the purpose of the event and if the activity or event has educational or spiritual value.

Adult to child ratio is also taken to account according to the guidelines which have been established within the policies for these types of events. The adults must have completed the required criminal background check and must comply with the Interactions and Behaviors Chart and the Code of Ethics, which are appendices 1 and 2 found in the archdiocese website.

With the decree signaling the completion and promulgation of the policy having been signed by Archbishop Byrnes on Oct. 18, diligent work from the retreat organizers and the archdiocesan Safe Environment Office began as soon as possible despite already having completed months of planning and coordination with parents and volunteers.

With months of planning along with endless prayers of petition and thanks, the Youth Camp was not without struggles, doubts, and sudden shake-ups.

“Prayer was the one thing that we all leaned on,” said retreat worship leader Zion Leon Guerrero. “When someone broke down in pain, we prayed. When someone ran off in anger, we prayed. When someone was distracted and being pulled away, we prayed. When someone was confused and lost we prayed.”

Donna Patindol, one of the youth retreat leaders who had been involved with CFC-Youth For Christ for many years said, “Even if sometimes you feel like you shouldn’t be there or you didn’t want to be there, God was actually the one who wanted you to be there,” as she commented about her takeaway from the camp. “Sometimes you wouldn’t know why and for what, but God just puts you there for a certain reason… and sometimes you don’t even have to know for what reason.”