Churches reaches out to wounded with healing Mass for survivors of abuse

For 30 years, she didn’t step foot inside a church. Her son was a victim of abuse at the hands of clergy.

Dr. Anne Vargas-Leveriza, director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Phoenix, recalled the woman’s presence at a healing Mass for survivors of abuse and their families.

“The feedback we’ve received has been very positive, especially for the victims who had been abused by clergy,” Dr. Vargas-Leveriza said. “For them it was powerful to see so many priests up there, recognizing that there is an issue and asking for forgiveness. That’s all a part of that healing process.”

Twice each year, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted presides at a healing Mass in one of the Phoenix Diocese’s 93 parishes. He said that God heals people individually, but that He also works through communities, especially when they are gathered around the Eucharist.

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Healing Mass

6:30 p.m. Dec. 9

Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral

6351 N. 27th Avenue, Phoenix
Info: (602) 354-2396

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“Jesus heals our wounds and restores our hope, and He sends us forth to bring others these gifts of mercy,” Bishop Olmsted said. “Those who have been abused find it hard to trust again. We pray that they will be freed of their fears and, through the healing Mass, discover anew the love and peace of Christ.”

“We want survivors to be there, but we are not only focusing on clergy abuse,” Dr. Vargas-Leveriza said. “It’s for anybody who has been abused — any kind of abuse. They’re invited to this Mass.”

Grief to Grace, a six-day psychological and spiritual program for anyone who has suffered degradation or violation through physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual abuse, is one way survivors can reach out for healing. The program will take place in the Diocese of Phoenix Feb. 1-6 in 2015.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted encourages anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse by any employee of the Roman Catholic Church to please come forward by contacting the Office of Child and Youth Protection.