By Teresa Pitt Green
In 2019, two survivors of clergy abuse stepped forward to collaborate with the same diocese where they had been abused – and to take the lead on promoting, as quoted in the local diocesan coverage, “healing, hope, and reconciliation for abuse victims, families and friends and the Catholic Church.”
The first prayer service was held in May 2019 for “abuse victims, families and friends and anyone impacted by sexual abuse.” It was hosted in the Panasci Family Chapel at Le Moyne College, titled “God’s Healing Grace Prayer Service.” The second prayer service was held in November 2019 at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in New Hartford.
As is common with prayer services of this type, the services were open to journalists like all others, but cameras and reporting were not allowed on site in order to maintain the privacy and a prayerful setting for those attendants seeking solace, security, and peace.
Yet Paden and FitzGibbons did not want to avoid media. In September, they set aside time to speak with press in a setting other than the sanctuary of prayer. There they each spoke about their vision for helping other survivors heal and the Church heal, too.
The men told Ellen Abbot of WRVO NEWS (excerpt from this fuller story):
FitzGibbons explained that… “Dan and I decided we can’t be silent, and how do we get love out there in the conversation once again.”
Paden said the angry and bitter narrative surrounding the scandal didn’t help him heal. Forgiveness did.“Being able to forgive my abuser doesn’t help victims,” said Paden. “I still want to help other victims. And one way that I want to help them is share the peace I found in moving to the point of forgiving my abuser and actively praying for him every day.”
FitzGibbons “does say the church could do better helping victims of the abuse. He suggested the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse create an advisory board to oversee that. “…this is a life changing event, and it doesn’t go away once it’s out of the news,” he said. “And so how do we support victims and their families through the whole process, and be there for them.”