News and Events
The Coordinator attended the Anglophone Conference in Rome (July 1st- 6th). Her keynote address entitled Ministering to Survivors who wish to re- engage with their Faith was well received. The conference was attended by representatives from Bishops’ Conferences and Religious Congregations in the English speaking world. It was thus an opportunity to network and make connections on a global basis. Towards Peace is a unique resource in the Universal Church and many countries were very interested in the service and how it is viewed among the survivor group as well as in the more general population. It was evident from listening to the over all feedback, that Ireland’s position with regard to Child safeguarding is viewed as particularly strong among the wider global Church community. On her return Una was interviewed about her experience in Rome for Brenda Drumm’s monthly Faithcast podcast. Faithcast is a mixture of interviews, news and stories of faith from the Catholic Church in Ireland.
To hear the interview please click here.
Having attended the Conference Facing the Future Together in May, this month the Coordinator visited and met with staff of the Christine Buckley Centre where she was welcomed and warmly received. She explained in more detail the ethos and service of Towards Peace. It is hoped that when the Centre reopens after the summer break that she will be able be able to re visit and hopefully engage with the participants about what sort of spiritual support, if any, they are seeking.
A group from the Oversight Committee met with the Communication’s Office in Maynooth with a view to promoting and publicising the work and service of Towards Peace.
Members also attended the Survivor Conference ‘Facing the Future Together’ run by the Christine Buckley Centre in partnership with Barnodos Origins, Caranua, One in Four, HSE National Counselling Service, Right of Place and Towards Healing. This conference was organised to mark the 20th Anniversary of the state apology to survivors of institutional abuse and the 10th Anniversary of the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (the Ryan Report).
The Coordinator visited a number of retreat centres and day facilities offering spiritual input. All were very welcoming, and open to offering their resources and services to Towards Peace clients. The Oversight Committee is in the process of exploring the possibility of developing a wide ranging menu of services for survivors of abuse in a Church context.
Towards Peace has been asked to provide an input at the Anglophone Safeguarding Conference in Rome in July. The purpose of the Conference is to enable the representatives of bishops’ conferences and conferences of religious as well as associated professionals to learn together and to learn from each other in order to better respond to victims and to respond sensitively to those affected by abuse and to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from abuse within our church communities. The theme this year is Child Safeguarding Formation, and it is being co-hosted by Ireland and New Zealand. It has been decided that the Coordinator will give the address on behalf of Towards Peace.
As part of their review of the Service, the Oversight Committee suggest that Towards Peace should seek to outreach to survivors in other ways apart from one-one spiritual companionship. The coordinator has been tasked with contacting various retreat centres around the country in order to ascertain what might be available to suit the needs and wishes of survivors.
On February 15th, Candles of Atonement were lit in parishes around the country to mark the annual day of prayer for survivors and victims of clerical sexual abuse. This special day took place a week before the Universal Church summit on Safeguarding in Rome, convened by Pope Francis on Feb 21st- 24th.
Prior to this historic meeting, Archbishop Eamon Martin reached out to all interested parties, including Towards Peace, seeking feedback on the perception of the present situation regarding sexual abuse of minors in the Irish Catholic Church, the level of awareness among the general public, perceived risk factors, preventative measures, and a key message which Towards Peace would like to see communicated to Rome.
Towards Peace is an invitational response on behalf of the Irish Catholic Church to the crisis of abuse. A major priority is the importance of continuing to develop a safe and trustworthy service for anyone who wishes to avail of it.
Happy new year!
As we begin 2019 it is important to remind ourselves again that the vision and mission of Towards Peace is to provide a safe space where anyone who has been affected by abuse in a Church context can be accompanied as they seek their own experience of spiritual peace, one step at a time. Please feel free to contact. If by any chance there is nobody available to take your call at the time, leave a message and we will contact you as soon as possible.
The office hours are Monday – Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Telephone: 00353 (0) 1 5053028
Mobile: 00353 (0) 86 7710533
Unfortunately we had to cancel our annual half day of prayer and reflection for spiritual companions and members of the Oversight Committee. It is hoped that this will now occur in early spring. However, Una worked with Kate Liffey National Director of Catechetics and Coordinator of the National Faith Development Team to present an Advent Reflection half day for the staff of the Columba Centre. This took place on Dec 11th and was very well received.
The work of the Oversight Committee continues apace.
May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas with all the blessings of the season.
Una was asked to contribute to the National Board for Safeguarding Training Day on Compassionate Response on Nov 14th. The aim of the training, geared towards Church Authorities, Designated Liaison Persons, and Support People working in their parish communities, was to discuss learnings from the past and to outline good practice in caring for complainants. A draft of the most recent Guidance Advice and Practice (GAP) paper A Compassionate Response to Complainants, was launched on the day. Speaking on Compassionate Response – a theological perspective, her input was well received. Also contributing on the day were Jim Sheehey, DLP Kerry Diocese, speaking on Restorative Justice, and Lynda Ryder, Towards Healing, who spoke on A Counsellor’s Experience of working with Complainants. The general consensus was that the training was well worth attending, in that the more aware we are of the importance of compassionate response in all areas of our work, the better.
On Nov 20th the Oversight Committee met formally for the first time.
With regard to the ongoing organisational review of Towards Peace, an Oversight Committee comprising six members has been established to replace the thirteen member Board which was dissolved on 30th August 2018. In conjunction with the IEC and AMRI, the Committee has been tasked with conducting a review of the Service and making recommendations for its future. This work is to be completed by April 2019.
Towards Peace is very grateful for the support and commitment of the Board to the Service since its inception. It is good to know that your ongoing advice and assistance is only a phone call away.
The Board of Towards Peace is continuing its organisational review of the service for the future.
The World Meeting of Families Pastoral Congress in the RDS ( Aug 22nd – Aug 24th) was very beneficial from an awareness raising point of view. Towards Peace was part of the Irish Bishop’s conference stand and AMRI also kindly agreed to carry information about the service on their stand.
Una attended the panel on Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults, which was chaired by Baroness Sheila Hollins, founder member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and addressed by Marie Collins, an abuse survivor and former member of the same Pontifical Commission; Barbara Thorpe, Social Worker and former head of the office for Pastoral Support and Child Protection in the Boston Archdiocese; and Prof. Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Pontifical Commission for Minors, Philippines.
The presentations were sincere, hard hitting and thought provoking. Members of Towards Healing and Towards Peace were on hand after the seminar for anybody who might have been upset by the content of the panel discussion.
However it was evident from many conversations over the couple of days of the Pastoral Congress, that the existence of the service of Towards Peace is little known outside Church circles. This is something we hope to address in the coming months.
Towards Peace is preparing for the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit (Aug 22nd – Aug 26th). We hope to have a visible presence at the Pastoral Congress in the RDS in August, and thus help to raise awareness of the existence of the service.
In the meantime the service is undergoing organisational restructuring with a view to becoming more streamlined. It is hoped that this will be concluded by the autumn.
During the month of June, we made contact with various outreach services in Galway with a view to the ongoing awareness raising of Towards Peace.
Una attended WALKING TOGETHER AS FAMILIES TODAY a Conference organized by the Faculty of Theology, Pontifical University, Maynooth in preparation for World Meeting of Families August 2018. Keynote speakers included, Julie Hanlon Rubio Professor of Christian Ethics, Saint Louis University, USA Theology of the Family Today: Legacy and Promise
Martin M. Lintner Professor of Theological Ethics, Brixen, Vision and Vocation of the Family in Amoris Laetitia. This was very worthwhile both from the information and networking aspect.
It is with regret that say goodbye to Ms Breige O’Hare as a consultative member to the Board of Towards Peace. Unfortunately due to pressure of work Breige has had to step aside from this role. We thank her for her generous contribution over the last three years and wish her well.
Towards Peace is working to ensure that we are GDPR compliant by May 25th when new data protection regulations are introduced throughout the European union.The GDPR emphasises transparency, security and accountability by data controllers and processors, while at the same time standardising and strengthening the right of European citizens to data privacy.
Pope Francis has decided that the World Meeting of Families will be held in Dublin on 22 to 26 August 2018, with the theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”. https://www.worldmeeting2018.ie/en/ Towards Peace hopes to have a presence there during the Congress days. More anon…
Administration & Development Coordinator, Colleen Brown, is finishing with Towards Peace this month and wishes everyone the best!
Core Training, Module 1 – Working with Survivors of Trauma – Shattered Wholeness: The Spiritual Impact of Trauma – will be offered this month to Towards Peace spiritual companions.
Pope Francis’ Worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse will be marked in Ireland on Friday 16th February. This is the First Friday in Lent and the day that the Irish Bishops’ Conference has chosen to mark the annual day of prayer. It first did so in 2017. Click here to see what is happening in various diocese and to see a selection of liturgical resources.
Pope Francis’ idea for the day of prayer came from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors: http://www.protectionofminors.va/content/tuteladeiminori/en/resources_section/day-of-prayer_page.html.
The day is marked around the world: http://www.usccb.org/news/2016/16-121.cfm.
Happy New Year from the Towards Peace office, now open for 2018. One of our focal points for January is updating the Resources section of this website.
All at Towards Peace wish you a Christmas and New Year full of hope. The Towards Peace office will close 19th December and re-open 8th January.
‘What is Towards Peace?’ … Watch Una Allen, Towards Peace Director, talk briefly about the service on YouTube, here.
Parishes throughout the island of Ireland are helping to spread the word about Towards Peace this month. We are grateful for the teamwork!
The Towards Peace team (Board, staff, spiritual companions) recently gathered for their annual Day of Prayer & Reflection, to focus on how Towards Peace can best be of service to all affected by abuse by Catholic Church personnel in Ireland.
An updated Towards Peace leaflet is now available here.
Core training, Module 4 – Secondary Trauma and Self-Care – Sustaining Wholeness: Holding suffering, seeking integration – was recently offered to Towards Peace spiritual companions.
The Board of Towards Peace has begun an organisational review of the service for the future.
A report about Towards Peace’s activity over 18 months, from January 2016 – June 2017, is now available here.
Core Training, Module 3 – Protocols, Policies & Procedures – Spiritual Accompaniment: Charism, Privilege, Responsibility – was recently offered to Towards Peace spiritual companions.
Marianne O’Connor has announced that after four years of work with Towards Peace, her work with the service, including the role of Chair of the Board, will come to an end in June of this year. We wish Marianne the all the very best with her multiple work commitments, now and in the future. She has been a part of the journey of Towards Peace from the beginning and we are grateful for all of her voluntary efforts to progress the service.
Towards Peace staff, spiritual companions and Board members are in Cork this month, meeting with social services which support survivors of abuse, and speaking at parishes within the region of Cork and Ross.
The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation has released a notice about the findings of a test excavation at the site of the Children’s Burial Ground / Memorial Garden located in the Dublin Road Housing Estate, Tuam, Co. Galway. A Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home operated there from 1925-1961. The notice can be found here.
Pope Francis has requested all Bishops’ Conferences around the world to organise a dedicated Day of Prayer for survivors and victims of clerical sexual abuse on the first Friday of Lent, which is Friday 3rd March. This Day of Prayer will take place in Ireland.
Core Training, Module 1 – Working with Survivors of Trauma – Shattered Wholeness: The Spiritual Impact of Trauma – will be offered this month to Towards Peace spiritual companions.
The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has issued its report, which can be found here.
Colleen Brown has returned from Leave to Towards Peace as Administration & Development Coordinator. We already miss Jennifer Connor and are very grateful to her for her excellent work over the past nine months.
The Towards Peace team (Board, staff, spiritual companions) recently gathered for their annual Day of Prayer & Reflection, to focus on Towards Peace as a service and how it can best be of service with / to survivors of abuse by Catholic Church personnel in Ireland.
October – November
We have been raising awareness of Towards Peace in the Galway region both within the Church and in the wider community. It is planned to promote Towards Peace in the Cork region in early 2017.
Towards Peace Policies and Procedures are now available on our website.
Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Paddy Carberry has needed to resign from the Board. Paddy has been with Towards Peace since its inception and his compassion and expertise will be sorely missed. We wish him well.
Towards Peace continues to recruit additional Spiritual Companions and Supervisors for Spiritual Companions.
Towards Peace, along with Towards Healing, provided an input to the conference of the SBNI (Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland), ‘Working Together to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children and Young People’, in Ballymena, Co. Antrim.
Interviews are ongoing to recruit both Spiritual Companions and Supervisors for our panels.
Una Allen, Director of Towards Peace, attended a one week training course on ‘Supervision for Spiritual Directors’ in St. Buenos Centre, North Wales.
We are continuing to update our Policies and Procedures.
Jennifer Connor has begun work with Towards Peace, providing Maternity Cover for Colleen Brown, Administration & Development Coordinator.
Towards Peace has begun to recruit additional Spiritual Companions, and Supervisors for Spiritual Companions.
Happy New Year to all. This month has been a busy one for the Towards Peace office and Board as we set our service development goals for 2016. We are in the process of developing our Policies and Procedures and our panel of Spiritual Companions.
All at Towards Peace wish you a Christmas and New Year season surrounded by love and hope. The Towards Peace office will close 23rd December and re-open 11th January.
Una Allen, Director of Towards Peace, spoke at the 10-12 November CSAS (Catholic Safeguarding Service) Conference – “From Darkness to Light: How the Church is responding to the abuse crisis” – at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire, England. Una’s presentation was entitled: “Is spiritual peace possible after abuse by Church personnel?”
On 2 November, the Towards Peace team (Board, staff, spiritual companions) gathered for a Day of Prayer & Reflection. The theme was focused on Towards Peace as a service and how it can best be of service with / to survivors of abuse by Catholic Church personnel in Ireland.
Our leaflet has now been updated: Towards Peace Leaflet Sept 2015 Update. By the end of this month we hope to have distributed it to each of the 26 diocese on the island and to over 30 services for survivors of abuse.
We hope you are enjoying our updated website!
Andrew Fagan has been elected Vice Chair of the Board of Towards Peace.
Sr. Marianne O’Connor has been elected Chair of the Board of Towards Peace.
Events about available supports for survivors, with input from Towards Healing and Towards Peace, were held within safeguarding communities in the Diocese of Kilmore on 12th May 2015, and in the Diocese of Dromore and Down & Connor on 28th May 2015.
An information session about Towards Peace was held within the safeguarding community in the Diocese of Ardagh & Clonmacnoise on 15th April 2015.
An information session about Towards Peace was held within the safeguarding community in the Diocese of Ossory on 4th March 2015.
Three new lay Board members have joined the Board of Towards Peace: Ann Caulfield, Andrew Fagan and Rachel Mooney.
At the request of her congregation, Sr. Mary Whyte has moved on from Towards Peace. Towards Peace is tremendously grateful for the three years of hard work that Sr. Mary gave to the development of the service.
Information sessions about Towards Peace were held within the safeguarding communities in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin on 3rd December 2014, and in the Diocese of Ferns on 10th December 2014. Click here to read the opening remarks at the Ferns event by Bishop Denis Brennan.
Mrs. Una Allen and Mrs. Colleen Brown have been appointed as Towards Peace part-time staff, as Director and Administration & Development Coordinator.
Towards Peace was launched in the West (Knock, Co. Mayo) on 3rd June 2014. Click here for the address of Mr. Frank McGuinness, Director of Safeguarding Children in the Diocese of Elphin. Click here for the address of Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam.
Towards Peace was launched in the South (St. Joseph’s Church, Wilton, Cork) on 25th May 2014, following a Concelebrated Mass for Healing & Reconciliation, organised by the Munster Survivors Support Service and the Safeguarding Service of the Diocese of Cork & Ross. Click here to read the homily of Fr. Liam O’Driscoll during the Mass. Click here to read the address of Mrs. Una Allen, Chairperson of Towards Peace and click here to read the address of Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork & Ross, at the launch.