Towards Peace

Spiritual support for survivors of abuse by Catholic Church personnel in Ireland

2021 

29 June 2021: As part of our ongoing initiative to reach out to survivors, Towards Peace is undertaking to present a series of short webinars inviting people who may encounter survivors in the course of their work to learn more about the service Our first such webinar entitled “Towards PeaceHow Spirituality can support Survivors in their Healing Journey” was offered to Towards Healing therapists on 29 June.  Participants had the opportunity to hear from a survivor and a spiritual companion and in so doing gained a fuller understanding of the service of Towards Peace and how spirituality can support survivors. Feedback from the therapists was very positive and given that a number of people were unable to attend on the day we would hope to re run the webinar in the autumn.

17 May 2021: In October 2020 due to COVID the National Board of Safeguarding Children was forced to postpone their National Conference on the Theology of Safeguarding. Arising from this, a series of short videos was commissioned to host on their website. In her role as Coordinator of Towards Peace, Una Allen was asked to address the question: How can (an understanding of) Pastoral Theology inform action to heal the spiritual damage caused by clerical sexual child abuse?” This video is now available on the NBSCCCI website with its transcript, and on the Vatican website.

9 March 2021: Training was provided to spiritual companions via Zoom on “The Role of the Survivor and Towards Peace” presented by Bernadette Fahy. Bernadette is a survivor of institutional abuse and also a member of the Towards Peace Oversight Committee.  This training arose from feedback submitted by spiritual companions in the context of the ongoing review of the service. Our hope is that together we would be able to explore how best to serve the people who have been wounded by Church abuse.

One of the positives arising from the pandemic is that more people are able to attend via a virtual platform than may be able to come in reality. Twenty two out of the full complement of twenty five spiritual companions attended. Members of the Oversight Committee were also present. Bernadette’s presentation was extremely powerful and very well received. The general consensus of the feedback underlined the importance of the availability of an open non- judgemental space where people are free and enabled and empowered to engage at whatever level they feel most comfortable.

10 February 2021: The annual Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse will take place on Friday 19 February 2021, the first Friday of Lent. The Day of Prayer is an initiative by Pope Francis and was first marked in Irish dioceses and parishes in 2017. Click here for more 

29 January 2021: Towards Peace makes a submission to the Strategic Review Group.

2020

3 Dec 2020: The IEC and AMRI (our funders) initiated a Strategic Review of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI), Towards Healing and Towards Peace.

15 November 2020: Hugh Lagan SMA and member of the Oversight Committee provided online training for our Spiritual Companions with a programme entitled “Emerging with Hope in a Time of Pandemic” This was well attended and gave companions the opportunity to take stock of where they were in relation to the ongoing fallout from COVID 19.

13 April 2020: The arrival of Covid-19 has affected all of our services. As a result of constraints the hours of Towards Peace have had to be reduced to two days a week. As we follow the Government guidelines and its attendant restrictions we find that survivors have a preference for face-to-face contact for spiritual accompaniment rather than using the Zoom digital contact, and most prefer to wait until one to one meetings can be resumed. Our plan for group facilitation has had to be put on hold.

 

2019

7 July 2019: 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. 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. Click here for the interview