New and Events – 2023 (Just Scroll Down)
The worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Abuse takes place on the first Friday of Lent, which is next Friday, 24th February. At the Continental Assembly of the Synod in Prague, Fr Éamonn Fitzgibbon and Julieann Moran general secretary to the National Synod addressed those gathered. They shared with the delegation how “during the diocesan phase of the Synod, the Pobal Dé – the People of God in Ireland – listened deeply and heard many testimonies from those who, sadly, have been wounded within the Church.” They shared how women and men courageously came forward to speak about the sexual, institutional, emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual abuse by members of the Church in Ireland .The full address given by Fr Éamonn and I can be found HERE
Towards Peace also provided a reflection on the experience of accompanying some of the survivors and victims of abuse when they took part in the diocesan phase of the Synod and how the subsequent submission from this group, which goes to the heart of our own need for conversion, was a call to the Church to hear their prophetic voice and to act on the wisdom of their experience. The recording can be heard here: HERE
Further material for the day of Prayer can be found Resources section of the website – HERE
Resources for the Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Abuse
At the request of the Safeguarding Designated Liaison Person, Towards Peace provided an in-house workshop to Dominican student seminarians as part of their formation training.
The Towards Peace Coordinator addressed the priests of the archdiocese of Tuam at their in-service training days on Caring for the Spirit.
The Towards Peace Coordinator was invited to be a guest at part of the AGM of AMRI, as they launched their national strategic plan, A Future with Hope
At the launch of the National Synthesis Report in August 2022, the Towards Peace submission outlining the experiences of the Survivors in their treatment by the Church, was sent to Rome as a separate appendix to the main report.
Towards Peace was represented at the Synodal Gathering in Athlone and was also part of the prayer service in Clonmacnoise.
Towards Peace was invited by the National Steering Committee to participate in the Synodal Process and responded to the invitation in two ways: by consulting with eight survivors and by reflecting on its own experience of working with survivors. This following submission is the culmination of that work
The fourth webinar in our promotion and awareness raising for Towards Peace was held for the Safeguarding Community on March 29th 2022. Given that members of the Safeguarding Community are very often the first person a victim or survivor of abuse may encounter, the webinar proved to be a very valuable awareness raising exercise as to what is involved in the service of Towards Peace and how the Safeguarding Community can serve to direct people towards the service.
On December 6th we held our annual half day of prayer and reflection for the spiritual companions and members of the Oversight Committee. Entitled ‘Coming Home – a reflective Space for Advent, due to Covid restrictions this event took place virtually and was facilitated by Dee Hennessy a spiritual companion on the Towards Peace panel.
Feedback from those who attended was universally positive and Towards Peace is grateful to Dee for giving so generously of her time and expertise to raise awareness of the importance of self- care, particularly with regard to the ongoing work of Towards Peace.
Webinar for Bishops and Congregational Leaders
Continuing our webinar programme, Bishops and Congregational Leaders were invited to attend a webinar entitled: Towards Peace – healing woundedness one soul at a time. The aim in hosting this webinar was to seek to empower Church leaders to understand at a deeper level the importance and ongoing relevance of Towards Peace.
Upwards of fifty people logged on to Zoom to hear powerful inputs from the two main contributors, Bernadette Fahy, a member of the Towards Peace Oversight Committee and a survivor of institutional abuse and Sister Margaret Mary Joyce SSL, a spiritual companion and a member of the Towards Peace panel. Although both had spoken previously at our webinar for the Towards Healing therapists, this was a very different experience and given the feedback both on the evening and subsequently, it appeared to have a profound impact on those who participated. The webinar was recorded and a copy was made available to the AMRI leadership teams.
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 Peace – How 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.
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.
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