April 12, 2021  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

April is the National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which offers an opportunity to call the faithful to action regarding the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ commitment to protect our children and young people from sexual abuse. During the month, parishes and schools are called to highlight abuse prevention efforts through various prayer events and activities.

“For the past 17 years the Office of Safeguard the Children has been committed to excellence in providing child sexual abuse prevention training for clergy, educators, volunteers, parents, guardians, children and young people,” said Joan Vienna, coordinator of the Archdiocesan Office of Safeguard the Children. “Since 2004, nearly 400,000 adults and millions of children and young people have been trained to be proactive in stopping child sexual abuse before it happens. Together we are making a difference!”

The Office of Safeguard the Children also creates practical safe environment resources for use in parishes, schools and homes. This year, the Office of Safeguard the Children has sent a special “United Together in Prayer” gift box to parishes that includes spiritual and educational resources in observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Parish communities are asked to actively participate by lighting the “United Together in Prayer” candle included in the gift box and planning a special liturgy on April 25 highlighting the parish and/or school’s commitment to protecting children and youth from sexual abuse. The 2021 Child Abuse Prevention Resource Booklet, also included in the gift box, provides “Prayer for Healing” cards, prayer petitions for each Sunday of April and the “Did You Know?” announcements for parish bulletins or websites, as well as activities for children such as a “United Together in Prayer Dove of Healing” decoration and “Keep Kids Safe” pinwheel. 

The “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse” brochure, released annually, is another important resource which presents an up-to-date listing of safe environment policies, programs, resources, contact numbers and other important information about how the Archdiocese is working to prevent child sexual abuse.

Among the outreach efforts, the Archdiocese will also lead the faithful in nine days of prayer and reflection for healing from sexual abuse beginning Thursday, April 22 until Friday, April 30 leading up to the end of the National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The novena, organized by the Archdiocese’s Victims Assistance Ministry, is offered in support of all sexual abuse survivors – those harmed in their families, the Church, or the community at large. As there are still ongoing restrictions to public gatherings and worship services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, faithful are invited to join the novena daily via livestream on lacatholics.org/united-together and facebook.com/lacatholics.

“For almost 20 years, Victims Assistance Ministry (VAM) has worked to provide a compassionate, informed, pastoral response to those harmed by the sexual misconduct of someone in the Church,” said Dr. Heather Banis, the Archdiocese’s Victims Assistance Ministry Coordinator. “Ensuring that such healing resources as trauma-informed therapy are made available and that the proper civil authorities are notified of allegations, VAM embodies the Church’s genuine desire to understand the needs generated by that abuse and support healing for those impacted.”

Each day of the novena, a different parish in the tri-county Archdiocese (Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara counties) will host a prayer service or celebrate Mass livestreamed on lacatholics.org/united-together dedicated to healing from sexual abuse, especially the victim-survivors served by the Archdiocese’s Victims Assistance Ministry, their families and friends, and all those in the Church who struggle with, and hope to heal, the wounds of sexual abuse in the Church and our communities.

The nine days of prayer and reflection will begin on Thursday, April 22 at 6:00 p.m. at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, Christ the King Parish in Hollywood will host on Friday, April 23, followed by St. Pancratius in Lakewood on Saturday, April 24 with Auxiliary Bishop Marc Trudeau for the San Pedro Pastoral Region.

During the novena, faithful are asked to decorate and light a candle at home for the healing of those who have suffered from sexual abuse. Prayer intentions and intercessions during the novena include the protection of the most vulnerable in our communities, for the healing and comfort of those who have been sexually abused, and that all families strive to provide safe and nurturing environments for children and young people.

The Archdiocese has created a website, https://lacatholics.org/protect/ that serves as a comprehensive tool containing resources, programs, and services for protecting children and reporting abuse.

For more information about April, Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Archdiocese’s Office of Safeguard the Children, and the Victims Assistance Ministry, visit lacatholics.org/child-abuse-prevention-month.