My Dear Parish Family,
Every week the Pastoral Team, including me, takes turns writing the message of the week. It is generally based on the message in the gospel for the day. Often we have another point or two to incorporate. It is amazing when the gospel message, God’s message, pulls it all together.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and it is my turn to write the letter. How do I make it relate? Every April we generally talk about the many ways that we as a parish help to prevent child sexual abuse, through the positive use of fingerprinting and training, campus assessments, committee meetings, and teaching the children what to watch for and guard against.
I remember the first time I taught Teaching Touching Safety training more than a decade ago as mandated by the
Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. I prepared for weeks. I attended the certification training, watched all the videos, read all the material and finally, spent days writing the lesson plans for grades 1 through 12. I was well prepared and… I was angry.
I was angry that a few depraved people had changed the game for everyone else. Thousands, millions of innocent children now had to put up with angry, anxious, apprehensive middle-aged women like me who were mandated to teach them about safe and unsafe touches. I teamed with my friend, volunteer and fellow parishioner Dr. Lisa Barra to conduct the training. When I saw those beautiful, sweet faces looking at me so trusting, something clicked. I realized what I was doing was not about the perpetrators, the darkness; this was about these children, the light. I had to equip these kids. I had to empower them to keep themselves safe. It quickly became perfectly natural to tell the children that Jesus loves them so much, he wants them to be happy. To help them in life, Jesus gave them lots of loving, trusted adults to care for them. So if they are not happy, or even a little uncomfortable, they need to tell.
The apostles knew to expect Jesus to suffer and die. They were not prepared for what came next, Jesus’ appearance in the upper room. He came to them with a message of peace. He breathed on them. That same breath surrounds us still today. That same breath animates us to do the work of God, to love one another, to see beauty and sweetness in the people around us.
All of us carry burdens and heartaches of our own or those of people we love. If you are a victim of abuse, please call the Victims Assistance Ministry office (213) 637·7650. If you have a heartache of a completely different nature, talk to your “trusted adult” or please call the parish office and ask to speak with Teresa Runyon who will connect you with a support group, therapist, deacon or priest. If you need to go to confession, please come to church any Saturday at 3:45pm.
Jesus loves you so much he wants you to be happy. After the cross, there is work and there is joy.
Parish Life Minister
P.S. Thanks and gratitude to our Safeguard the Children Committee: Suzy Maraboto, Dr. Lisa Barra, Jackie Perrin, Linda Smith, Brett Becker, Deacon Neil Kingsley, Tere Delgado, Liz Vega, Nancy Jorgesen and me. If you would like to join this caring group, please contact me or Nancy in the parish office.