Votive candles are found at a church. The Mass of Healing and Reconciliation is held twice a year for survivors of abuse and their families. (File Photo)
Mass of Healing and Reconciliation

5:30-7:30 p.m., Dec. 11

St. Jerome Parish, 10815 N. 35th Ave., Phoenix


The deepening crisis in the Church following revelations involving clerical sex abuse in Pennsylvania and allegations involving former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick points to an even greater need for reconciliation and healing now. The Diocese of Phoenix will hold its biannual Mass of Healing and Reconciliation for survivors of abuse and their families Dec. 11 at St. Jerome Parish in Phoenix.

The Mass, which is celebrated every Advent and Lent, was originally intended to reach out to those harmed by sexual abuse by clergy, according to Dr. Anne Vargas-Leveriza, director of the diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection and Safe Environment Training, but “there is a bigger need to reach out to our community because abuse happens everywhere — there is no specific place and time or age.”

For victims, the abuse may have happened decades ago but the scars and pain linger. It may be difficult for family and friends to understand the depth of suffering.

EN ESPAÑOL: La agudización de la crisis de abuso urge la necesidad de una Misa de Sanación y Reconciliación

“It is important for people to know that we are here, we continue to be here, we are not leaving and we are walking with them in their journey of healing,” Vargas-Leveriza said. “It is also an opportunity for survivors to come forward and know that we have this — there is an office that is dedicated to advocating for survivors where they will be comfortable to tell their story.”

About 100 people usually turn out for the Mass of Healing and Reconciliation and most line up to speak with Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted afterward. He takes time speaking to each one of them. “There are always tears throughout the Mass,” Vargas-Leveriza said.

“The abuse of children and young people is a terrible evil in our time,” Bishop Olmsted said. “The suffering and grief caused by abuse requires from Christ’s Body the Church a vigorous response of action and prayer. Since some members of the Church have been guilty of such abuse, it is even more important that we gather for a Mass of Healing and Reconciliation for those abused and for their families and friends.”