Dear Students, Families, Alumni, Employees, and Friends,
We begin this new 2018-2019 school year with excitement, enthusiasm and optimism as we welcome new students, faculty and staff to our school. We also welcome back all those who are returning to another school year.
With this excitement and optimism, however, there is also a dark cloud that hangs over the school, the Diocese, and the universal Catholic Church. The recent release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report detailing the disturbing sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests has left us shocked and horrified. What makes this even more upsetting is that some of this abuse took place within our own school into the late 1990s at the hands of priests who were entrusted by parents and families to care for and mentor their children. That trust was blatantly violated, and young, innocent lives were shattered due to the sick, sinful and perverted actions of these priests. Sadly, their corrupt actions have also tainted the image of the many more priests who are good, holy, moral men who have lived by their vows and have been positive role models and mentors to our children.
Now that light is being shown on this issue, we stand with Bishop Lawrence Persico and his transparent handling of sexual abuse cases. Bishop Persico took the bold step of listing on the diocesan website not only the priests who have been credibly accused of abuse, but also any credibly accused lay person or religious who worked or volunteered in any of our diocesan parishes, schools or institutions. We, as a school, in full cooperation with the Diocese, are making our constituents aware of child abuse and are giving victims a message of hope and healing. In addition, we want to provide a pathway to report any instances of child abuse. If anyone is reading this letter is also a victim, then I would encourage you to go the Diocese of Erie website where you will find resources on how to report cases of abuse (if you have not already done so), no matter how long ago that abuse may have occurred. The website also contains resources to provide comfort and healing by connecting victims to caring professionals to accompany them on the path to healing. Please know that our prayers are with those who have been abused.
The safety and welfare of our students is always a top priority. Mechanisms to protect our children are now in place that were not in place when most of these cases of abuse occurred years ago. A clear example of this commitment to child safety and protection is seen in the mandates by the state and the diocesan child protection policy which require that all employees and volunteers obtain clearances (including FBI fingerprinting) before they are hired or involved with the school. They also undergo education and mandated reporter training and stay current with any updates on how to prevent, identify and report instances of abuse. Our students also are in-serviced by outside professionals to help our students avoid situations that may lead to abuse as well as how to identify abuse and to report abuse if they are a victim or if they become aware of the abuse of a fellow student. Thus, today much more effective protection is provided through clearances, compliance and education. We are more vigilant than ever before in protecting our students from anyone who would try to harm or abuse them. Also, there is zero tolerance of individuals who abuse our students.Perpetrators of child abuse will be immediately reported to the appropriate legal authorities.
While a dark cloud does hang over us today, we are nonetheless hopeful that the light that is being shed on this issue will indeed bring needed healing to all of us and provide a bright and safe future for our students.
Please pray for the victims of child abuse that they may know Christ's healing and pray for our students, faculty and staff that they be kept safe from all harm and evil.
Fr. Scott W. Jabo