2nd of June to 6th of June 2014 was an inspiring moment as representatives from almost all the entities of the Company of Mary convened in Rome, at the brothers of St. Gabriel house, for an education week on protecting the children and vulnerable adults.
Father General welcomed all the confreres and in his welcome note stated that this program was “one step more towards the realization of what our last General Chapter of 2011 called for from the whole Congregation” regarding the protection of the vulnerable. He emphasized that this is a challenge “which demands that we take responsibility and organize ourselves to defend and promote the life of everyone, in particular of the weakest ones.”
The session was facilitated by Dr. Monica Applewhite with the help of Fr. Gerald Fitzsimmons, SMM. There was also an input from Fr. Elias Frank on canon law. The topics that were tackled were as follows: working with the victims; working with the offenders, history and church law; and then the topic of prevention, both in relation to first formation and to a healthy celibate living. The confreres also had moments for group discussions in which they shared personal experiences and experiences from their entities.
All the participants acknowledged the importance of the session and were mandated with the task of sharing what they learned and experienced with the confreres from their respective entities.
In addition to that they resolved to work with their confreres to develop local policies that deal with ethical ministry with minors and vulnerable adults, taking into consideration the policy developed by local Episcopal Conferences and the Conferences of Religious.
A policy template and a set of congregational standards from Father General were presented and discussed, which will give guidance on this process.
The participants are looking forward to cooperation of all the confreres to carry out this noble course.