Protecting God’s Children Remains Shared Goal

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by John Mark Willcox

Since the 2002 initiation of our diocesan program designed to create a safe environment for our children and young people, our diocese has exposed thousands of church volunteers and employees to the Protecting God’s Children program and made our faith community much safer for these young members of our worshiping family.

Part of the success of this program is due to the facilitators of this learning module who have introduced the program to so many people over the past 15 years. In June, six more special facilitators underwent training to strongly carry on the tradition of creating safe environments within the Diocese of Shreveport.

These individuals represent Catholic parishioners from across our diocese, including JoAnn Beason and Ramel Fields, St. Joseph Parish – Mansfield; Jean Rains, St. John the Baptist Parish – Many; Lindy Brasher, St. Matthew Parish – Monroe; Cathy Wise, St. Patrick Parish – Lake Providence; and Rosalba Quiroz, Christ the King Parish – Bossier City.

“This challenge has not simply gone away,” commented program director Deacon Michael Straub.  “We still have new employees, teachers and church volunteers who have not been exposed to our VIRTUS® Safe Environment Program and we continue to be called to need each individual to go through our program. I am thankful that these newly trained facilitators have made themselves available to continue this ongoing training process.”

For the first time, this program will be offered to the faithful by a facilitator speaking in Spanish, thanks to Rosalba Quiroz completing her training.  She is ready to expand our VIRTUS® program to new audiences, commenting, “We are so happy to bring Protecting God’s Children to our Hispanic community in their native language so that we can ensure a safe environment for the many children and young people who make up our Latino worship family.”

Regular Protecting God’s Children sessions in English continue to be offered at the Catholic Center on the second Wednesday night of each month, as well as at selected sites and times throughout the diocese.

You will continue to receive information on this program through your Catholic Connection. For more information about a scheduled safe environment session in your area, call the Office of Human Resources at 318-219-7287, or visit our website, www.dioshpt.org.  •

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