Service for victims of clerical sexual abuse Nov. 2

A Service of Peace, Hope and Healing for those who have been impacted by Sexual Abuse as Minors by Clergy, will be held at Fairfield University Egan Chapel at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

The Most Rev. Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will lead the gathering in prayer and will speak at the service, which will include music and readings as well as personal reflections by survivors of sexual abuse as minors by priests.

The prayer service is being coordinated by a planning group of survivors, in conjunction with the Diocese of Bridgeport.

“Sexual abuse has an impact on all members of the body of the Christ. We hope this will be a start of new opportunities for healing across our Diocese. There is no more important work during this Year of Mercy. I am very grateful to the survivors who have taken the leadership in planning this service as a way of bringing healing to the lives of so many who have been wounded by sexual abuse,” said Bishop Caggiano.

Erin Neil, director of Safe Environment and Victims Assistance Coordinator of the Diocese of Bridgeport, said, “The Healing Service is open to victims, family and friends, and all those who have been impacted by clerical sexual abuse.”

“We are reaching out to survivors of abuse as a minor by clergy, family members of survivors, those who work as leaders in child and youth protection, and those who have accompanied the survivors on their journey,” she said.

In January, Bishop Frank Caggiano met with survivors and family members from the Diocese of Bridgeport. He listened to their stories in order to gain a better understanding of their journey towards healing.

The Bishop asked the survivors for their guidance on ways that the Diocese may further promote healing and outreach to those who may still be suffering in silence and may not have come forward.

A Committee for Healing was formed out of these initial meetings and consists of five survivors and three lay leaders of the Diocese of Bridgeport — The Director of Safe Environment, the Victim Assistance Counselor and the Director of Pastoral Planning. The committee consulted with individuals within the Diocese and outside of the Diocese of Bridgeport.

The decision was made in July to sponsor a healing service this fall that would be welcoming and would give all a chance to gather and to pray together in a safe place.

Victim Assistance Coordinators, Erin Neil and Michael Tintrup, together with lay volunteers and clergy will be available as a resource before and immediately following the service.

For information about this service or to speak with someone about sexual abuse or other forms of abuse as a minor by a person from the church, call Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., director of Safe Environment & Victim Assistance Coordinator, 203-650-3265 or Michael Tintrup, L.C.S.W. , Victim Assistance Counselor, 203-416-1305. To report a new incident of suspected or known abuse of a minor, immediately notify the police or the CT Department of Children and Family Services, 1-800-842-2288.

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