In response to the summer 2018 revelations about clerical sexual abuse and the listening session held at St. John Neumann Catholic Community on Sept. 27, 2018, a parish ACTION group was formed. The name was taken from the following goals:
Our mission encompasses:
Supporting the survivors of clerical abuse
Educating ourselves and our parish to the issues involved in this crisis
Advocating for meaningful laity involvement at all levels of the church hierarchy to ensure accountability and transparency
ACTION meets the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m. via Zoom. RSVP to email@example.com to participate.
In January 2021, St John Neumann will offer a faith formation program called “We Are the Church.” This program has been designed by parishioners, and it explores sexual abuse within the Church and the leadership failures that allowed sexual abuse to become such an awful problem. “We Are the Church” is aimed to help participants learn more about the voice of the laity within the Church and commit to healing and renewing the Church in the wake of the revelations of sexual abuse.
“We Are the Church” consists of two five-week segments and draws on insights from theologians, lay leaders, priests and bishops, and Vatican II to help participants increase their knowledge and commitment to support the mission of the Church to proclaim the Gospel. All the readings will be provided, and the sessions will be conducted virtually. We will schedule meeting times to meet the needs of participants.
Several parishioners have participated in a test run of this program, which was revised in response to their feedback.
“I joined ‘We Are the Church’ because I am distressed with the official church’s reaction to the child sexual abuse culture that exists among some of its priests and officials (denial, cover-up, paying for silence of victims) and with the continuing revelation of clericalism among the clergy (and laity) that allows the sexual abuse culture to continue even at the highest levels, e.g., McCarrick. I wanted to know how and why some of our church officials became the monstrous people who covered this up and if there is anything I can do to help change this culture. The program, including work by laypeople and clergy, helped me find a way through these questions and helped me see that there are promising ways forward as a church, assuming the willingness of lay people and bishops to work together.” –Patricia Schambach
“I joined ‘We are the Church’ because I believe in this statement and wanted to understand if this belief is sound and how I might act on it moving forward. The sexual abuse crisis I’d the most visible example of the need for active lay leadership in the “management” of the Church, but the challenges are so much deeper. I now am committed to learning more, and to pursue a more active involvement in the efforts to introduce a strong lay presence and in the future of our church.” –Tom
“This course provided me the opportunity to continue my education around the sex abuse issue in the Catholic Church, learn more about the structure of the Church and its history, and explore action that can be taken as part of the laity in response to this crisis. I particularly benefited from the thoughtful group discussions about the readings and podcasts, and hearing perspectives of other members in the group in a well facilitated and safe environment, as I continue to process my feelings about the church’s handling of this issue and a path forward.” –Cindy McBride
Virtual Victim/Survivor Support Group
For those who have experienced sexual abuse by clergy or others as a child or vulnerable adult
This is an independent, volunteer-based peer support group (not a therapy group) facilitated by Angie Boggs and is open to anyone who participates in a faith community and anyone who does not.
Angie is a Catholic laywoman and circle keeper. She is a bioethicist and board-certified chaplain experienced in addressing secondary traumatic distress and moral distress in a large health system. Angie is a participant in the STAR (strategies for trauma awareness and resilience) program at Eastern Mennonite University and a participant in a survivor support group sponsored by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Angie is a member of the St. John Neumann parish ACTION group committed to advocacy and reform.