This article was published in the bulletin for the weekend of July 15-16.
The month of July starts the tightening of the belt in protecting God’s children in our diocese and throughout the United States. This is all part of the promise the bishops have made to the faithful for accountability, transparency and in making a difference in the safety of our children. The Bishops now ask us to do our part in making the Church the safest place on earth, as it should be.
The Bishops have developed a program called, Protecting God’s Children which teaches you how to identify sex offenders. This is a one-time class that is required for all volunteers who could possibly come in contact with children under the age of 18. The only volunteers who are not required to take this class are the prayer tree and the money counters. The rule of the diocese is that anybody who has not taken this class will not be able to be active in their ministries until they have completed this one-time course. This is a policy of the United States Catholic Council of Bishops. The class is available on-line at http://www.virtusonline.org/virtus/index.cfm. It only takes one and one half hours to do it on-line. We do have a computer in the office that can be used if having access to a computer is a problem. You may use it during office hours. If the computer is not accessible or you are afraid of computers, then we have two classes available at the Holy Family Community Center on Saturday, July 22, from 9:00am to noon, and Monday, July 24, from 1:00 to 4pm.
In addition to the class, there are some forms to be filled out. One is the State of Illinois DCFS Mandated Reporter Status form. This form states that you agree to report to the proper officials if you see any sexual abuse of children. The second form is the Authorization to Conduct Background Check, in which you agree to have a criminal background check done on you. The third form is signing that you read through the Code for the Pastoral Use of Technology and Social Media and that you will be in compliance with everything said in it. The fourth is the Guidelines for Youth and Those Working with Youth and says that you have read through and agree to the terms in this document. The fifth form you sign says that you will read the Diocese of Rockford Prohibition of Sexual Abuse and Misconduct and that you agree to abide by it. The sixth form you sign acknowledges that you have received the Catholic Diocese of Rockford Code of Pastoral Conduct and that you will abide by it.
All these forms must be completed as soon as possible. The Diocese of Rockford is making all parishes keep files on these forms and send them to the diocese. Ann Peters has been working with the Diocese of Rockford to put together the files so we can be in compliance. She may be giving you a call to check on our records to make sure everything is up to date and nothing was lost. Thank you for cooperating with her on this.
I know this may seem like a lot of extra work for volunteers, but it is for the safety of our children. These children are such a precious gift to the community and worth protecting. There is no cost to you. We do appreciate all that you do for our parishes. Without our volunteers, we could do nothing. We praise God for the goodness He has shown us. May He continue to bless you, your children and grandchildren.