by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens,” according to the Book of Ecclesiastes (1:1).
And now there is a time for spiritual reparation for offense and for healing.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has determined that April 27 is to be observed in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas as a Day of Prayer in Atonement of and for the Healing of All Those Harmed by Sexual Abuse. For specific times at your parish, check your parish bulletin or website.
The idea for this is “rooted in the archbishop’s solicitude for those who have been abused and affected by sexual abuse within the church,” said Michael Podrebarac, archdiocesan consultant for liturgy and sacramental life.
“For too long, the survivors of abuse by representatives of the church have gone unseen and unheard,” said one abuse survivor, “which only served to exacerbate our pain and shame.
“Having a Mass with the focus on healing and repairing relationships gives me hope that things are really changing.”
The archdiocese offered three regional healing services in 2016 for those affected by any sort of abuse or harm, and in 2018, held the first archdiocesan-wide day of prayer for the protection of children.
“The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph first adopted the day in their liturgical calendar several years ago,” said Father John Riley, archdiocesan chancellor. “Archbishop Naumann thought that we, too, should offer a day of prayer and atonement annually in our liturgical calendar.”
The archdiocese and the diocese decided to hold their Days of Prayer in Atonement on the same day in April so they could collaborate, but this year, they are off by a day. They will use the same date next year and from then on.
The two dioceses decided to choose April because it is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
All Catholics are urged to attend Mass on April 27 and unite their prayers for this special intention.
“Parishioners should want to participate because we all make up the church, the body of Christ,” said Amy Stork, a victim care advocate in the archdiocesan office for protection and care. “The survivors sit among us. This is our way to help participate in that healing.”
“This issue has affected every member of our community in some way, if only by the absence of some members of our community,” said Kathleen Chastain, consultant in the office for protection and care.
If they cannot attend, all Catholics should offer prayer on that day, but all Catholics are encouraged to attend. Those who have been hurt, and those especially close to them, are especially welcome.
“It is a day of observance for the whole church,” said Podrebarac. “Obviously, the focus is on the victims of abuse themselves, but it also reaches out to those who are family members — spouses and children of those who have been abused sexually.
“In a wider sense, it draws all the faithful’s attention to this scourge within our church and the world so we can be prayerfully vigilant toward the eradication of all forms of abuse in the church and the world.”
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