‘Updating the Faith’ on child abuse prevention

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Observing Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, many Catholic parishes and schools have dedicated areas with candles, prayer cards and blue ribbons for victims of abuse. This is one such area at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. (Photo provided by Liz Richards.)

By Tony C. Diaz
Umatuna Si Yu’os

Members of the Task Force for the Protection of Minors and participants of their workshops shared positive feedback with the public this week about training aimed at preventing sexual abuse in our Catholic church.

In Piti, a poster of a remorseful Pope Francis is part of a table with a lit candle adorned with a blue ribbon at Assumption of Our Lady Catholic Church. (Photo by Tony C. Diaz/editor@umatuna.org)

Chairperson Sarah Thomas-Nededog and member Vince Pereda joined Archbishop Michael Byrnes and a half dozen representatives from Catholic schools and parishes as the Archdiocese of Agana began a new series called “Updating the Faithful” on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Presented as part of the Church’s observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the event was held at the St. John Paul the Great Center at the -Chancery.

Close to a dozen reporters and their camera and social media colleagues covered the event, some live-streaming the information across the globe on social media.

Diligent and dedicated, Task Force members have trained adults at all 14 of our Catholic schools and six parishes thus far since they launched the “Safe Environment” training last October (Toto was to be trained this past Saturday).

“So, my role here is to say ‘thanks’ to you all for really taking the lead and providing some really effective measures, through the training to equip our parishioners, our teachers, even our students to be aware of the signs of child abuse and to … learn how to engage themselves in prevention,” Archbishop Byrnes told Task Force members and participants.

Longtime social work professional Thomas-Nededog said she was heartened by the response and progress they’ve seen in our Church in this area.

As the first to be trained, the schools set the tone with open arms to be equipped with information to help safeguard their children.

“I want to say first of all, that the schools have been absolutely open and receptive and welcoming to us in this effort,” Thomas-Nededog said. “And then we turned our attention to our parishes.”

“The parishes, the faculty, everyone has been quite open and responsive. We’ve got great questions out there,” she added.

“I really believe that we’ve come a long way to rebuilding our integrity and our credibility in our Church and I think we’re much more educated and equipped to protect our children and our vulnerable residents from any type of abuse in the future,” Thomas-Nededog said.

Representatives from our schools and parishes spoke eloquently and shared valuable input at the news briefing. They included Sister Dorothy Lettiere, RSM from Academy of Our Lady of Guam; Principal Rita Duenas and counselor Lila Lujan from Bishop Baumgartner Memorial Catholic School; Ruth Taimanglo from San Isidro parish, Malojloj; Rosie Creelman from Assumption of Our Lady parish, Piti; Sharon O’Mallan from St. Francis parish, Yona; and Tricia Tenorio, the archdiocese’s Safe Environment Coordinator.