Since she took over the role of director of Safe Environment Training for the Diocese of Phoenix last month, Dr. Kathy Cisar has been moved by the support provided to survivors and the educational resources available, and she’s ready to do her part to make sure people have the tools necessary to keep children and vulnerable adults safe.
“My responsibilities are to ensure that training and knowledge and understanding of the policies of safe environment training are being upheld … and to bring a better understanding of why these are in place and the importance of them in providing safety for all of our community members,” Cisar said about her role.
“What’s important to me is building relationships in all of our parishes to be a resource for them.” It’s not about telling people what to do, she said, “it’s about forming those relationships and understanding what needs are out there and facilitating getting those needs met as we move forward.”
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted welcomed Cisar and recognized the importance of her role.
“Safe Environment Training prepares all those who work or volunteer in the Church to more wisely protect children and other vulnerable adults from abuse,” he said. “This is a service not only to the Church but also to society as a whole. It lifts up the dignity of every human person, reminding us that each one is made in the image and likeness of God. I am grateful that Kathy Cisar has recently accepted these important responsibilities in our diocese.”
Cisar, who attends and volunteers at Our Lady of Joy Parish in Carefree, was born and rasied in Chicago, where she attended Catholic schools and played the organ for her parish through high school. She joined her parents in Arizona after they moved here just before they retired.
She has a background in special education and counseling and received a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University in Chicago.
“She has a wealth of knowledge in curriculum, professional development, trainings and counseling,” said MaryBeth Mueller, executive director for the diocese’s Division of Education and Evangelization, as well as superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Her experience and gifts will serve the diocese well as she updates trainings, develops curriculum and assists parishes in the continual implementation of our policy and procedures protecting our youth.”
It’s important to Cisar that people who receive training understand not only the regulations but also the rationale behind them. She recalled a recent incident when a parishioner didn’t want to go through training. “I don’t know why I have to go to that training … I’m not going to be told how I need to behave,” she recalled him saying.
“‘Actually, that’s not what it’s about,’” she responded. “‘It’s so you know if someone is in trouble you can help, and also so you understand certain things because they’re different than they were years ago. That’s just good for you and for whoever you’re with.’ The person was like, ‘Oh,’ and I said, ‘It’s also helping you understand how kids are being groomed these days because it’s gotten so much more sophisticated and you don’t even realize it’s happening right underneath you.’”
Cisar also plans to continuously update the training curriculum as the needs arise to keep up with whatever issues are current. Ultimately, she said, it’s her faith that guides her and her work, especially the relationships she builds.
“I see my faith coming in where it might be a moment to be prayerful, it might be in how we guide people,” she said. “I have this position, but I’m also coming to you to say we’re all in this together and how do we work together so that we can reach this common goal.”