April 26th was the Annual Day of Prayer for the Protection of Children in the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph (@DioceseKCSJ). This year it was observed at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with a Mass celebrated by Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr. (@BpJamesJohnston) with priests con-celebrating.
Bishop Johnston’s homily was a reflection of Jesus’ words on the cross as he was dying: “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” and the experience of those children who have been sexually abused by priests. He also reflected on healing, hope and how victims can become survivors. I urge you to read the homily. As with his message at the Service of Lament last June, the bishop struck just the right tone with an unmistakable contrite heart.
A display board stood on the left front of the altar that said “Abandoned in Suffering – One in Renewal,” yet another nod to survivors acknowledging their pain while extending the hand of the Church asking for forgiveness and offering the hope of resurrection as the church community heals together from the evil that visited upon them. The “hope box,” a wooden box that contains prayer intentions of those who were at the Service of Lament last year, was placed beside the sign. The Cathedral is a beautiful place to begin with, and the Easter decorations made it all the more so.
The Office of Child and Youth Protection published the following prayer on prayer cards. Everyone received a card as they entered the Cathedral and prayed the prayer together after Communion.
My heart belongs to you.
I come to you needy and afraid.
Your light draws me close.
It lifts the shroud of darkness
That has enveloped me so long.
You, O Lord, call me by name.
You reach out to me in my time of distress.
Shame, guilt and confusion swirl about me
As I fight the evil of abuse.
You offer me the hope of healing.
With an act of the will
I try to forgive, to move towards freedom.
Today I ask for the grace
To forgive my abuser, his enablers,
The Catholic Church
And yes, Lord, to even forgive you
For I feel betrayed by all.
Bring me peace and healing.
Give me the grace to
Help protect the innocent
To love the wounded who feel alone
To let your light shine in the darkness
And to hope for a new dawn.
I have posted the prayer on the sidebar of my blog, where it will remain. It is vitally important that we survivors stay close to the Lord in prayer. Prayer is where relationship with Jesus takes place. It is where we get to know him, where we can be real, where we hear the soft, sweet sound of his voice. Prayer is where healing takes place.
This Annual Day of Prayer for the Protection of Children is a step in the right direction towards healing in the Church. With a humble and proactive bishop who supports an incredible team in the Office of Child and Youth Protection, things are looking up in Kansas City.
(photo credits: kcsjdiocese.org)