Led by Tricia Tenorio of the Archdiocese of Agana’s Safe Environment Office, representatives from our Catholic parishes and schools meet to discuss activities related to Child Abuse Prevention Month. (Umatuna photo by Tony Diaz/editor@umatuna.org)

By Tony C. Diaz
Umatuna Si Yu’os

Led by Archbishop Michael Byrnes, the Catholic Church on Guam will join the rest of the local communities and the Church nationwide is observing Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

Masses throughout our Archdiocese of Agana will include prayers and petitions for those who have suffered tremendous harm from sexual abuse.

The Church also remembers all who have been hurt by sexual violence in general with April also being Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

(Umatuna photo by Tony Diaz/editor@umatuna.org)

The Archdiocese of Agana is currently facing close to 40 lawsuits by individuals who have said they were sexually abused by clergymen locally in years past, some as far back as 50 years ago.

Representatives from Catholic parishes and schools came together last Wednesday, March 29 in a meeting coordinated by the Safe Environment Office of the Archdiocese.

They met to coordinate different ways their sites and the Archdiocese would commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month and offer prayers and attention to those who have suffered from what Pope Francis has called “a monstrosity.”

Christian Mothers from the different parishes will work with their respective pastor to pray the Holy Rosary at their site during designated days.

Everyone is encouraged to pray “A Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse” at their Masses, parishes, schools and Catholic organizations. The prayer has been translated in different languages.

Other ideas include lighting a designated candle adorned with blue ribbons for the victims of abuse, scheduling a holy hour for healing and holding prayer services at our Catholic schools.

In a pastoral letter this Sunday, Archbishop Michael Byrnes encouraged everyone to be ever vigilant and caring about the need to protect our young from abuse as well as helping to bring healing to victims of abuse.

“Each of us in the Archdiocese should grieve deeply at the harm and agony that so many of our children have suffered and still suffer today as adults as a result of being betrayed and abused by a trusted clergyman or adult,” Archbishop Byrnes said.

“No one can truly understand the depth of their suffering. However, we can start to listen to their stories and take concrete steps toward HEALING and HOPE,” he said.

“The damage that sexual abuse and sexual assault incurs on individuals and communities can never be completely erased,” the Archbishop added. “However, as Catholic Christians we know that the past does not have to define our future. The power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing and hope to each one of us is unlimited.”