BY SISTER FRANCES O’BRIEN
Sister Frances O’Brien, a member of the Healing Violence Committee, recalls the great works of the committee.
For the past 20 years, a standing committee established by the Sisters of Providence has been working hard to raise awareness about violence and its underlying causes, and to move to concrete actions to eradicate violence especially against women and children. In the first 10 years, we held major conferences with keynote speakers and workshop presenters or panels on the following topics: the root causes of violence against women; healing the trauma of violence; a community approach to preventing violence against women; the crime of human trafficking; bringing gender violence out of the shadows.
We established a bursary committee which now distributes bursaries totaling $20,000 per year to women coming through the violence cycle who use the money for education or counselling.
We gave workshops on human trafficking to high schools in Kemptville, Perth, Brockville, Kingston, Belleville, and Peterborough, to CWL groups in Stirling, Belleville, Smiths Falls, Gananoque and Kingston, and to the Sisters’ Council of Edmonton Archdiocese.
In the next 10 years, we followed up with day-long workshops on sexual exploitation through the internet, and training in non-violent communication skills.
We networked with many agencies in Kingston to host a conference celebrating how women ‘do’ peace.
We then turned our attention to Sexual Violence in the Church and offered a process to help Catholics heal from the betrayal of molestation of children by clergy. This process was presented to the Sisters of Providence, to our Sunday Faith Community, to a parish in Kingston and one in Belleville.
We brought in Sister Nuala Kenny to present workshops for 320 people on Healing the Church: Addressing the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis. Since that time we have offered to use Sister Nuala’s material in workshops for any parish or Church group who would invite us.