by Mike Hoffman
I wish to express gratitude for a variety of successful events this April/May 2019 which helped raise awareness of child abuse prevention efforts, which will impact our community and ultimately serve to protect children from harm. Abuse of children can occur in a culture of silence, yet this month we raised our voices in a variety of ways to help protect all of Gods children from any kind of harm.
Jeans Day at Signature Bank, Chicago – all employees we invited to pay $5.00 for the privilege of wearing Jeans to work on April 5, 2019. Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention were on display and handed out to all bank customers this day. The bank matched all funds collected for a total donation of over $500.00, to benefit the Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago programs. Thank you employees of Signature Bank, Chicago.
8th Annual Child Safeguarding Mass at St. Mary of the Woods Parish, Chicago, April 6, 2018. This annual Liturgy was the same evening as the Daddy/Daughter Dance, and Father OBoyle spoke about good childhoods and healthy families at our parish. Following the Liturgy, all parishioners were invited to plant a Pinwheel for Child Abuse Preventionon the grounds of the church and school. This was not only a fun activity to do, we left behind a dramatic, visual, public display of support for providing a safe environment for all children. Thank you Father Aidan O’Boyle, the Daddy/Daughter Dance team and the wonderful parishioners of St. Mary of the Woods.
Radio show Catholic Chicago, April 11, 2019. Father Greg Sakowicz hosted a lively discussion of safe environment efforts within our parishes, schools and religious educations programs. Additionally, we spoke about the annual Prayer Service and Pinwheel Planting event - a public outreach prayer service because prayer is one part of the healing process for survivors and the community of believers. Public prayer is an important way of consciousness-raising within our Church. Thank you Father Greg Sakowicz, Mayra Flores and the listeners of Catholic Chicago radio.
Radio show Catholic Chicago, April 25 2019. Father Greg Sakowicz hosted a conversation to promote the annual Child Safeguarding Mass at Holy Name Cathedral . Guests included Deacon Dan Welter, AOC Chancellor. Mary Jane Doerr, Director Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, Olivia Clarke and Ali Beister, members of Holy Name Task Force, and myself. It was a great discussion of the benefits of public outreach. Thank you all.
Child Safeguarding Mass and Pinwheel Planting, April 27, 2019, Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago. Father Greg Sakowicz celebrated this Liturgy, which featured a reflection from Mike Hoffman, clergy abuse survivor and child safety advocate. Following the Mass, a pinwheel garden was planted by all parishioners in the courtyard and on Superior Street. Despite a crazy late April snow storm, this public outreach effort was a complete success with over 1000 pinwheels planted. Thank you to the Holy Name Cathedral Task Force for heading this up.
8th Annual Prayer Service and Pinwheel Planting, May 3, 2019, Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Over 80 schoolchildren, parents, Principals, Priests, and concerned adults came together to express our care, compassion and concern for the safety and well-being of all children. Father Mike Gabriel and Father Lucas Laniauskas, SJ led the children in prayer and song in a very beautiful and hope-filled public effort. Together, we raised awareness of our on-going ministry to provide a safe environment so all children may thrive, grow and build up their faith with dignity. Thank you St. Ignatius College Prep, Hope and Healing Committee, Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, and to all who attended
Conversation with Father Greg, May 8, 2019 at Holy Name. Attended by over 25 people, Father Greg and I shared our heartfelt reactions related to the time I told Father Greg my story of childhood abuse by clergy. We went on to discuss the healing process both for victims/survivors and our church as a whole. I am grateful to all who attended and the Holy Name Task Force.
In addition, the Child and Youth Catholic Leadership Conference in Meuntchin, NJ featured Pinwheels for Child Abuse prevention displays. Finally, the USCCB shared photos of a Pinwheel display in the lobby for all visitors to see and enjoy.
All throughout my personal healing journey, I have felt support from family, friends and our church. This past month I have felt overwhelming support. I am grateful to all. It is a joy to see the community come together for the safety, dignity and protection of all children during Child Abuse Prevention Month. We must keep up these efforts all year long.