Bishop Paul Dempsey has issued the following letter for Safeguarding Sunday. Copies will be avaialable in parishes throughout the diocese.
Safeguarding Sunday – Diocese of Achonry 7th Nov 2021
Dear friends in Christ,
It is just over a year since I became Bishop of Achonry. It has been a time for me to learn a lot about the Diocese and the people and priests who are its lifeblood. As I continue this new mission, I have been reflecting upon the priorities that need to be addressed. One of these priorities continues to be in the area of Safeguarding. I am deeply grateful to Fr. Joseph Gavigan and Teresa Curley who showed great leadership in this area for many years as the Designated Liaison Person and Deputy Designated Liaison Person. My appreciation also goes to Fr. Martin Jennings and the Diocesan Safeguarding Committee who have given much time and energy to this important ministry. In my visits to parishes, I have seen how priests, deacons, sacristans, parish safeguarding representatives and many others give their attention to this essential area of parish life. I thank them all for their generosity and diligence.
The past year has offered an opportunity to renew our commitment as a diocesan family to the whole area of Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults. Since becoming bishop I appointed Mary Nicholson as our new Director of Safeguarding. Unfortunately, due to illness, Mary has had to take a break from her role. I wish her a speedy recovery. Helen Diskin has kindly stepped in as Director of Safeguarding until Mary returns. Helen has been in touch with all the parishes offering support and guidance to priests and Safeguarding Representatives. Training has been carried out via Zoom in the area of Vulnerable Adults. More training sessions will take place in the coming months for all those who have various responsibilities around Safeguarding in their parishes.
Anne Leonard accepted the role of Designated Liaison Person and Sr. Pat Casey has taken on the role of Deputy Designated Liaison Person. Our Safeguarding Committee has also been renewed. I express my thanks to all of them for their generosity in taking on these responsible positions. There are regular meetings held with Safeguarding staff and the Committee where the various Safeguarding measures are reflected upon so that the highest standards can be achieved. We have also had a meeting with a member of TUSLA to ensure our standards are in tune with statutory requirements.
This year we are producing new printed material for all our churches. This new material reminds us of our renewed commitment to the area of Safeguarding.
As I write these words, I am conscious of those who have been hurt by the experience of abuse. If there is anything I can do please do not hesitate to get in contact with me or the Designated Liaison Person or the Director of Safeguarding. The Church offers supports that may help in the healing process. In my role I will try my utmost, with the help of so many others to ensure we do not become complacent in this area but will continue to remain vigilant so that the conditions are in place to ensure our children and those who are vulnerable are as safe as possible in the Church environment.
I wish you every blessing and assurance of my prayerful good wishes.
Bishop Paul Dempsey,
Bishop of Achonry.