The Archdiocese of Chicago to Hold 11th Annual Hope and Healing Mass
Chicago - (Oct. 12, 2022) – The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Assistance Ministry will hold its 11th Annual Hope and Healing Mass at 10 a.m., on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022 at St. Gertrude Parish, 6200 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. Fr. Michael Gabriel, associate pastor and administrator of St. Gertrude Parish, will be the main celebrant and homilist of the Mass, which will be livestreamed on the parish’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stgertrudechicago/ (editor’s note: to protect the privacy of victim-survivors who will attend the Mass, media are asked to not film or photograph their faces).
“This year marks the 30th year of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s commitment to policies that prevent clergy sexual abuse, help heal all affected and hold those responsible accountable,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “As archbishop, my commitment to victim-survivors is unwavering. Their courage is our inspiration as we continue the work begun decades ago.”
Mayra Flores, director of the Office of Assistance Ministry and coordinator of the Safe Environment Office for the archdiocese, will offer a welcome message. 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 serve as a reader. Fr. Larry Dowling, pastor of St. Agatha Parish in Chicago, will concelebrate the Mass.
“I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by clergy. I kept my story a secret for more than 30 years before I had the courage to speak about it in 2006. My efforts to find healing and hope from underneath devastating pain and sadness involved many people, and were intertwined with the same Church that allowed my abuser to remain in ministry at the time,” said Hoffman. “I am grateful to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Assistance Ministry for offering sustained survivor outreach services for all these years. Additionally, I am grateful to Cardinal Cupich for his courage and example of listening to the voices of abuse survivors like me, and many others. Knowing I am not alone, and feeling heard, believed and supported have made a tremendous difference in my recovery process.”
The Mass for Hope and Healing was first held 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 Catholic faith community. 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.
“Our victim assistance ministry responds to and accompanies victims of abuse in their journey of healing and ensures victims get the resources they need,” said Flores. “It’s humbling that courageous victims share their stories with us and allow us to be part of their recovery. There is a sacredness in their sharing and grace in their healing.”
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.
Additionally, this year is the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) passage of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." More commonly known as the “Dallas Charter,” the comprehensive set of procedures was originally established by the USCCB for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
The USCCB also established the National Review Board (NRB) to involve expert, Catholic laity directly in a collaboration to prevent the sexual abuse of minors at the hands of American clergy. Each year, the Board reviews and reports on the progress of the Charter and recommends areas where the Church can improve their efforts.
For more information on the services provided by the Office for Assistance Ministry, please visit https://protect.archchicago.org/offices-and-services/office-of-assistance-ministry.