Safe Parish Community

         A few years ago, the Diocese of St. Paul, along with most dioceses across Canada established the policy: Responsibility in Ministry which spells out the respective responsibilities of clergy, staff and volunteers.

 

         The Safe Parish Community policy is designed to complement the existing Responsibility in Ministry policy.   In order to be covered by our insurance company, we not only have to have a policy in place, but it also has to be actively implemented.

         The purpose of the Developing a Safe Parish Community policy is to create a safer social environment in our parishes.  This involves reviewing the layout of parish buildings, as well as identifying ministry positions which deal with children, youth, or other vulnerable persons at risk of being harmed. 

         The goal is the increased protection and safety of all our parishioners, our volunteers, our staff, and our Church.  Thus the Developing a Safe Parish Community policy is intended to be a permanent feature of parish life.

         A series of administrative and pastoral steps are in place at the diocesan and parish levels to create a safer environment for all members of our faith community.


 The policy has several parts:
 Part One:

We developed a Safe Parish Community Committee consisting of

·      Fr. Gérard (pastor)

·      Denise Jalbert (PPC Chairman)

·      and Yolande Kubash (a member at large)

 Part Two
We are beginning a mandatory screening procedures
for all who minister in the parish:

Clergy,   Salaried employees,  Volunteers

Two levels of risk are identified:  

a General Risk and a Higher Risk

Candidates for the priesthood and permanent diaconate 

will also undergo a rigorous screening program which includes:

·      Personal reference checks

·      Criminal record check

·      Personal interviews

·      Completion of psychological tests and an integrative report

·      Observation by faculty and staff regarding the candidate’s suitability for ministry.

         Priests or deacons from another diocese or a priest who is a member of a religious order who wishes to minister in the Diocese of St. Paul must obtain the permission of his bishop or superior, who will submit a certificate providing full disclosure attesting to the good character and history of the priest candidate.

 Part Three:

         The Diocese has established ministerial and procedural guidelines for creating a safe community for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults.

 Part Four:

         An orientation session is required for all ministers, employees, and volunteers.  This is to be done once every five years for those already in ministry and before any new volunteers can be accepted.

 Part Five:

         The parish is required to submit the reports to the diocese to ensure that we have done our work.




 Ministry Definition: A Ministry or Program: a structured series of similar activities governed and run (directed) by the Diocese through its offices, parishes, camps or other approved organizations.
  A simple definition of ministry – clearly stated it is any activity directed by the parish.  We are a community with many gifts and talents serving the Church: some members proclaim the Word, some teach, some pray, some sing, some clean etc.  The end purpose of the activity is to build up the Church. 



           Most of the people who are involved in ministry are considered to be in a General Risk category.  This includes Readers, Ministers of Communion, Choir Members, Greeters and Altar Servers.  If you are in this category, you will be required to read and sign the “Safe Parish Community Pledge.”
 Those in the High Risk Category are involved in ministry:

·      with children under 16 years of age

·      with physically or emotionally vulnerable persons

·      with disabled seniors

·      visiting in a hospital or nursing home

·      direct handling of money

·      with free access to church buildings, offices, computers, files, or property

·      with access to confidential information

·      as well as priests and permanent deacons

 Individuals in the High Risk Category are required to:

·      submit a Criminal Record Check indicating no convictions

·      provide two “Ministry letters of reference,” to be completed by two parish members and returned directly to the parish office

·      mandatory attendance at the orientation session: “Developing a Safe Parish Community”

·      sign and submit the “Safe Parish Community Pledge.”

·      if there are any concerns expressed on the reference form, a follow up phone call will be made to the two references

         Everyone involved in ministry is in a risky situation where they might face an accusation.  Those who minister, especially to the youth, adolescents and vulnerable adults are at an even higher risk.  This policy is to ensure that everyone in our parish is safe, whether we are offering our service or receiving ministry from another.

 Safe Parish Community Pledge
 I, ________________________________ wish to serve at St. Paul Cathedral Parish.  I understand the importance of my role in ensuring a safe environment for all to whom I minister.  I have read and understood all of the directives below.  I pledge my support to observe these directives and to do all that I can to encourage others to do the same.  If I become aware that any of these directives are being violated, I will notify my pastor or the Diocese of St. Paul.
         All religious instruction of children and youth is to be done in a public, group format with at least two adults present.  One-on-one instruction in a private place as well as in-home religious instruction is not allowed.
         One-on-one counseling, interviews, and discussions are to be conducted in a space that is visible to others.  All rooms used for these purposes are to have clear glass windows or doors, and the door should be left open when the room is in use unless confidential issues are discussed.
         The celebration of Reconciliation with children is to be done in a space that is visible to others (clear glass windows and doors, or open doors,) or in a traditional confessional.
          Ministers and volunteers shall not be alone with a child, adolescent, or vulnerable adult in a rectory, automobile, or in private living quarters. 
         Ministers and volunteers shall not seek out opportunities to spend off-site time with children to whom they minister.
         Ministers and volunteers will set and keep appropriate boundaries with those to whom they minister.  Hugs and kisses for younger children and physical “rough-housing” with older children shall be appropriate and occur in public.  The adult party shall exercise due discretion. 
         Overnight trips, parish picnics, and socials, are to be thoroughly planned so as to ensure privacy, modesty, and safety of all participants.  Ministers and volunteers are never to be alone with children and adolescents during an overnight trip but are always to work as teams of at least two.  Parents are to be closely involved with the preparations, planning and execution of all overnight trips.  A sufficient quorum of parents to ensure child safety shall be present.
         On overnight trips, segregated change areas are to be provided for boys, girls, men, and women.  Adults shall not sleep in proximity to children.
         Adults shall not help children with toileting without explicit permission from parents / guardians.  Toileting assistance for children shall normally be undertaken by two adults.
         Ministers or volunteers shall not take any money or property in return for their ministry apart from contractual salaries or approved stipends.


 For those in the General Risk Category:
        Read and sign the Safe Community Pledge
        Return it to the Parish Office as soon as possible.
 For those in the High Risk Category:
         A take-home package can be obtained at the Parish Office or at the back of the church. Once you have completed the requirements, bring them to the Parish Office or drop them in the collection basket.  The package contains the following documents:

Read and sign the Safe Community Pledge. 

We have a letter for you to take to the RCMP for the Criminal Record Check indicating that you are a volunteer.  You will not have to pay for it.

We require two reference letters that you will give to two people who know you well. (other than your immediate family).

For those who missed the High Risk Ministry Workshops, 
a workshop will be arranged through the parish in the near future.

Thank you to everyone for your cooperation and understanding.

Comments