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The Archdiocese of Chicago to Hold Ninth Annual Hope and Healing Prayer Service

The virtual gathering will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 at 10 a.m.

Chicago - (Oct. 21, 2020) – The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Assistance Ministry will hold its ninth annual Hope and Healing Prayer Service at 10 a.m., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Due to COVID-19, this year’s service is online and will be the most inclusive ceremony to date with participation from many survivors outside of the archdiocese offering readings and testimony.   

“The Hope and Healing Prayer Service has become an opportunity for victim-survivors to not feel alone and to feel safe entering a church without having to sit in silence as a victim-survivor,” said Thomas Tharayil, LCSW, BCD, director of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Assistance Ministry. “I see victim-survivors heal and grow from year to year. And for those who struggle with connecting to their faith, this Mass has become one way to re-enter a church without being retraumatized.”

Rev. Larry Dowling, pastor of St. Agatha Church, will preside over the online service. Michael Hoffman, chairman of the archdiocese’s Hope and Healing Committee, victim-survivor and parishioner of Chicago’s St. Mary of the Woods Parish, will offer a welcome message. Deacon Glenn Vanek, a parishioner of St. Mary Immaculate Parish in the Diocese of Joliet and a victim-survivor, will read the gospel and provide the homily. Vanek also serves on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Independent Review Board that assists Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Rev. Mike Gabriel, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, will lead victim-survivors from dioceses in Arlington, Va., Peoria, Ill., Milwaukee and Seattle in sharing reflections of courage in English and Spanish. Chaplain Joe Johns, of St. Peters Sacred Space, a healing garden for abuse survivors at St. Peter’s Mintaro in Australia’s Clare Valley, will share an Australian survivor’s healing testimony.

“There are many survivor-led healing initiatives across the country, and internationally, which have been growing and building for years,” Hoffman said. “The survivors-healing-survivors movement gives me and many others hope, especially during the pandemic, that the wounds of abuse can heal.”

The Mass for Hope and Healing started in 2011 when victim-survivors requested a special Mass so they could support one another and reconcile their experiences with their desire to be part of a faith community within the Church. Each year, victim-survivors collaborate with clergy and staff to plan the liturgy. Attendance has grown to include clergy, victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse, family members and caregivers of survivors, church lay ministry staff, Catholic school leadership and many others who are committed to the protection and safety of children and youth.  

The Office of Assistance Ministry, part of the archdiocese’s Office of the Protection of Children and Youth (OPCY), provides pastoral care, support and resources to victim-survivors of clerical sexual abuse, and their loved ones in their journey to achieve psychological, emotional and spiritual healing. Since its creation as one of the first victim assistance ministries in the United States, the Office of Assistance Ministry has provided services and support to more than 400 victim-survivors and their family members.

The Hope and Healing Prayer Service will be available here:

For more information on the services provided by the Office for Assistance Ministry, please visit