Some 90 invited guests of Most Rev. Dermot Clifford DD, clergy, parish representatives, trainers of the programme for child safeguarding and the diocesan designated officer for child safeguarding, Mr. Bill Meagher gathered in St. Patrick’s College, Thurles on January 24 for the launch of the updated booklet.
This outlines the policies and procedures to be employed in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly when working with young children and vulnerable adults.
Sr. Carmel Bourke, trainer and co-ordinator of the programme, welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers, Mrs. Breda Mc Cormack, Chairperson of the Committee for Safeguarding Children, who outlined the role and work of the committee since it was set up in the Archdiocese in March 2012. Ms. Deirdre Lanigan was the guest speaker at the launch.
Unless she had received “the call” from her local curate Fr. Joe Walshe to act as Eucharistic Minister back in 1999 Deirdre, the newly qualified primary school teacher in Scoil Ailbhe, Thurles would probably not have volunteered herself for that role and the many new roles she has gone on to undertake since then. Deirdre explained that her involvement in youth ministry projects such as Rainbows, Team Spirit, Journey in Faith, Youth Choir, to name just a few, has been aimed at enabling young people to participate in a fun way in their Christian community and to empower them to grow personally and spiritually in a welcoming and safe environment.
In her ten years or so involvement in youth ministry in her local parish she and her fellow volunteers, along with, as she described, “the gifted and energetic priests”, have received so much more in return from the very appreciative young people they have come to know. Some of them have gone on to become teachers, nurses, doctors and still return for reunions with their lifelong friends in faith.
Deirdre’s strong message for those who want to become involved in youth ministry but are afraid to do so, is that planning is essential, having trained personnel is essential, fun is essential and accountability is most essential.
“Follow the policies and guidelines as recommended in the Diocesan policy document, keep good records and review policies on a regular basis,” she advised, “as safeguarding is mutually beneficial to the youth and the adult alike”. Her final message for volunteers was not to worry about the, “What if questions”.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway”, she urged.
Before officially launching the Policies and Procedures 2013 Booklet Archbishop Dermott Clifford praised Deirdre for her invaluable volunteering spirit. Also deserving of volunteering praise, he said, are the members of the Child Safeguarding Committee for their dedicated work in producing the document. He thanked Bill Meagher for his guidance and advice in guarding children against the “clever and devious child predators”.
The Archbishop commended all present for their work in the parishes in adopting and implementing the policies and procedures as set out in the document.
His Grace finished by saying that, “Our youth are the future leaders and our job now is to protect them and to make sure they enjoy their childhood.”