Clergy sexual abuse and bursary follow-up

From left: Keynote speaker Sister Nuala Kenny MD, Sister Frances O’Brien SP, Barbara Baker, Sister Marie Dundon SP, Christine DiZazzo, Carol Groten, Friar Ed Debono OFM Conv., Sister Catherine Casey SP, Sister Margo Shafer SP.

As a follow-up to our conference last September 11 and 12, 2015, entitled “Healing the Church: Diagnosing and Treating the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis” the Healing Violence Committee of the Sisters of Providence wishes to report on the work we have done since that time.

The suggestions given to us by the small groups for further steps towards healing the church were collated and studied. They were then compiled under the following headings: Priests, parishes, archdiocese, youth and students, and further workshops. At a meeting with Archbishop Brendan O’Brien we shared our summary of these suggestions and received his gratitude and support. You will find them at 

Since that time, the committee has been invited by St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kingston and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Gananoque to facilitate a workshop called Promoting Healing in our Church. The first hour was a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation with a condensed version of Sister Nuala Kenny’s material, followed by questions. The second hour was a guided process where people were safe to express feelings and thoughts regarding the impact of sexual exploitation and abuse in the church and within the faith community. Approximately 75 people took part in these experiences. Many participants expressed how helpful and moving this experience was for them.

We hope that participants have continued to respond to the call to bring about healing in themselves and in the church. Perhaps some have formed study groups based on Sr. Nuala’s book. Our committee is also willing to bring our workshop to any parish or church group when we are invited. Let us pray for each other and for our faith communities that together we can eradicate all forms of clericalism and abuse from the Church. 

As a Committee which has worked on healing violence since 1998, we have devoted our energy on Healing the Church of the Sexual Abuse Crisis for the past 3 years. The fact that 320 people participated in the conference we held with Sister Nuala Kenny says to us that there is still a lot of pain in this area and much work to be done. Whether or not our work has brought about any change remains to be seen, but we are proud of the steps we have taken.

Healing Violence bursaries for women report

  • With the increase of the bursary committee funding from $10,000 to $20,000 the committee was able to award bursaries to all 10 applicants that applied this past spring.
  • Not all received the full amount requested but all received a portion of their request.
  • All recipients were victims of abuse who wish to further their healing through counselling (8) and/or education (3).
  • The new date for sending in applications to receive the bursary is March 1. 2017.