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Diocese of Rockville Centre

Team to Offer Spiritual Support to Victim Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, October 6, 2004 – The Diocese of Rockville Centre today announced the formation of a pastoral care team, which will provide spiritual support to victim- survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

“While it’s important to offer support groups, the diocese must also offer spiritual assistance to survivors,” said Eileen Puglisi, director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Feelings of betrayal and alienation from the Church are common among survivors and it is the goal of the team to renew the survivor’s faith in God.  “It’s perhaps the most difficult ministry because it confronts what are sometimes strong and bitter feelings towards the Church and God and to rediscover pieces that have been lost,” added Puglisi.

The pastoral ministry team will be comprised of priests and women religious.  They will undergo training so they can provide effective spiritual counsel that addresses the kinds of issues survivors struggle with.

“Victim-survivors have asked for spiritual support and as a Church we have an obligation to care for the spiritual aspects of their victimization,” said Puglisi.  “Having a trained team is vital in this effort.”

The formation of a diocesan pastoral care team is part of a multi-faceted approach by the Diocese of Rockville Centre to correct the errors of the past and to develop the necessary means to protect children and minors in the future.  The Office for the Protection of Children and Young People oversees, among other things, criminal background investigations of all personnel and volunteers in the diocese, the “Protecting God’s Children” workshops to train all those working in the Church to recognize the warning signs of potential problems and the writing and distribution of publications, including the diocesan Child Protection Policy manual detailing reporting procedures of allegations and ministering to survivors of abuse.  The office recently organized a support group for those who survived abuse in the Church.

Diocesan efforts to assist survivors received a special commendation by auditors from the Gavin Group who found the Diocese of Rockville Centre to be in full compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People after the first on-site audit.

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About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The diocese serves approximately 1.5 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3 million). There are 134 parishes in 119 towns. Last year over 21,000 Baptisms, 18,000 Confirmations, 21,000 First Communions and 5,000 Marriages took place in the diocese. There are 2,622 students in kindergarten, 26,738 in primary or elementary school, 11,979 in secondary school and 9,310 in higher institutions. There are 77 Catholic elementary schools, high schools and colleges/universities in the diocese. Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice. These facilities served over 743,000 people last year. For more information visit


                 Sean P. Dolan
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