February 2017

The Healing Voices Magazine V2 N1 February 2017

Special Edition: Victim Assistance Coordinators



The Healing Voices Magazine

This Special Issue of The Healing Voices Magazine has been produced for (although not solicited by) the 2017 Child and Youth Protection Catholic Leadership Conference. In this Special Issue, we have focused on the experiences that survivors of abuse by clergy and others have had when dealing with the Church.

Many articles are new to this Special Edition, but we have also included salient articles previously published in The Healing Voices before this year. Articles profile extraordinary Catholics and highlight what has made our experience wonderful—and what has undermined our reconnection to the Church.

We offer this Special Issue as a gift to dedicated fellow Catholics. Online readers will find a multitude of articles by survivors about our unique ways and ideas for recovery and about our faith. Other articles cover a broad scope of topics can be very helpful to Victim Assistance professionals, their colleagues, supervisors and local survivors. It is our hope that what we collect and publish regularly may prove helpful and even inspiring to many.

Please share copies of this Special Issue with anyone whom you believe may be informed by the gift of its contents. Remember that subscriptions to The Healing Voices Magazine are free, open to all, and include a printer-friendly PDF with each issue.

FREE BOOK!  A desktop-published version of this Special Issue is available at no cost as a digital file for duplication to advance understanding of the role of Victim Assistance Coordinators and Survivor Ministers in the experience of survivors. The PDF is too large to link here, but it is available by request here.

Building Better Bridges to Healing
Thomas P. Tharayil, Director of Assistance Ministry at the Archdiocese of Chicago, describes themes for Victim Assistance Coordinators, Child Protection professionals and others to consider as primary connections for survivors of abuse exploring ways to reconnect with the Church.

A Life Changed
Timothy S. Ruffner describes the primary role his VAC had on his progress into a thriving and strong recovery.
Observations, Reflections, Gratitude for VACs
Sooz Jeson recounts a difficult start reporting abuse and a strong bond with a VAC that has had lasting effects.
Listening, Saints and Miracles
Miguel Prats describes how peer counseling can play a role in the overall patchwork of support VACs can sometimes help survivors build.
Difficult Step, Difficult Road
Kathy O’Connell describes how difficult the process of recovery can be and how a VAC can be a pivotal connection in moving forward at a gentle pace.
My Open Letter to Victim Assistance Coordinators
Michael D. Hoffman recounts the particulars of his own positive if difficult reporting experience and reflects on the power of VACs overall in this process.
In This Together
Eileen Unander describes the mix of blunders, good intentions, and complications that can play out in a survivor exploring how to report abuse and interact with the Church beyond then.
A VAC’s Role in Shrinking the Monster
Norbert Krapf credits his VAC with an astute and patient role in his process of healing by writing which resulted in an award-winning book of poetry and a subsequent narrative tale.
Soar Like Eagles
T. Pitt Green describes relentlessly testing her VAC from the start and reflects on the unseen holy work done by all VACs.
Be Aimless, Find God
Frank describes how the simple outreach poster left near a church doorway was enough for the Lord to use to guide him into a retreat and care with the diocese.
Choosing First Steps, Staying Positive
Timothy S. Ruffner relates early and very difficult steps of telling friends and family during the process of reporting abuse.
Speaking Versus Being
Sooz Jeson offers a reflection about why Victim Assistance Coordinators and similar survivor ministers need to appreciate the importance of how they choose to “be” with survivors.
All Manner of Things Will Be Well
Victoria S. Schmidt recounts the early years of seeking therapeutic support and working out the experience of abuse in her faith.
A Survivor’s Story and Scripture
Deborah Rodriguez shares how she relies on Scripture to reflect and heal from abuse, in this case the story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb of our Lord.
Companions on the Journey
Norm Riggins offers a reflection, from a survivor’s perspective, on what our loved ones go through as we process what has happened to us.

A Spouse’s Story
Sarah Riggins shares both her experience when her husband, Norm, finally shared he had been abused with her and her own experience of grief and shaken faith.
A Sister’s Perspective
Julie (Hoffman) Tuozzoli shares how it was as the sister of two brothers who were sexually abused as children, both in its immediate effects on the family and in its later adult processing.
A Sister’s Christmas Blessing
Mary, sister of clergy abuse survivor and moved by reading every issue of The Healing Voices Magazine for a year, wrote a blessing to the founders for the Christmas of 2016.
A Nurse and Scholar’s Perspective
Charlene Niemi and friend describe interactions with VACs across the country while pursuing research into adult men who were abused by priests.

Renew My Church
Sooz Jeson inspired a full issue of The Healing Voices Magazine to discuss survivors’ role in the church renewal to which Archbishop Cupich called Catholics in his care.
Ministry of Care
Kathy O’Connell describes how being a minister of care in her parish is a way to use her own experience for others.
Mass of Hope and Healing
Michael D. Hoffman describes, from a survivor’s perspective, what attending a Mass for Hope and Healing in the Archdiocese of Chicago was like.
Forgiveness: Is It Even Possible?
Rev. Lewis S. Fiorelli, O.S.F.S., draws on his work with survivors to consider one way to think of forgiveness as part of the gentle and gradual process of healing from abuse.
The Trauma Recovery Program
Rev. Kenneth W. Schmidt details a program for therapeutic events for survivors which has the longest track record with demonstrable results in the country.
The Call and Privilege of Ministering to and With Survivors
Rev. Larry Dowling shares a sermon he gave to survivors, their loved ones and other Catholics—with important meaning for VACs and similar survivor ministers.
Ministry of Prayer
Patricia Mudd reflects on how her work as a VAC has been, ultimately, a ministry of prayer.
Manifold Wound
Rev. William Stenzel kindly trusts us with his own experience of grief and identity crisis as a priest who dedicates his life to respecting and uplifting others.
Abuse, Therapy and Spirituality: Reconciling the Three
Rev. Quinn R. Conners, O.Carm., describes abuse, therapy and spirituality separately and then reflects on how they can be integrated for the good of survivors.
Exercising Muscle Memory
T. Pitt Green offers ideas for how to broaden the patchwork of support from therapy and ministry in order to free the body of memories buried deep within.

A Healing Garden
A Prayer Labyrinth
Online Candle Grotto

The Draw of the Eucharist
The Bookworm (pseudonym) describes the chapter describing survivors’ draw to the Eucharist in the Robert Orsi book about the Eucharistic Presence in history.
Every Precious One
T. Pitt Green reviews a book by fellow survivor and co-founder of The Healing Voices Magazine with as a cautionary tale.
Night: Someone Who Knew Evil
The Bookworm reviews Elie Wiesel’s autobiography describing his own childhood experience of evil unleashed—and how his witness helped one survivor of clergy abuse.

Why and How Did I Remain Catholic
Spotlight Wins Oscar for Best Picture

Help Us: A To-Do List
Invitation: Virtual Prayer Service
Quick Take on Do’s and Don’ts in Survivor Ministry