Abuse Healing Fund Ready to Go

By Bill Zajac
The Republican
June 16, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - Distribution of the Fund for Hope and Healing for clergy abuse victims is to begin now that its supervising committee has been finalized.

The primary objective of the fund is to provide critical short-term survival needs for victims, including assistance with utility bills, medications not covered by other sources and other necessary living expenses. The fund will not provide ongoing assistance, but help victims through "rough spots," according to fund spokesperson Sandra L. Tessier, one of five parents of alleged victims serving on the fund committee.

So far, $20,000 has been raised.

"After working on this for a month or so, we are pleased to be in a position to reach out and help victims," said Tessier.

The panel also includes Sister Elizabeth Broughan, who has reached out to families of victims.

"She was the first person in the diocese to offer support to me once my son identified himself as a victim," said Tessier.

The committee also will consider assisting victims in personal enrichment experiences to help long-term healing, and will consider requests to allow victims to travel and speak to other groups in an advocacy role.

"Someone may want to attend a healing seminar, or religious retreat or an abuse workshop," Tessier said.

Tessier's 45-year-old son Andre filed suit against the diocese two years ago, saying he was abused by defrocked priest Richard R. Lavigne when Lavigne was assigned to St. Mary Parish in Springfield and Tessier was a minor attending at that church.

Those wishing to apply for assistance can call (413) 452-0622. A committee member will serve as a liaison for those making requests.

"It is our hope that this fund will bring some measure of healing to the victims, realizing that the wonderful donors who contributed to the fund with love and compassion, do care about their survival," Tessier said.

Tessier expressed gratitude to the Rev. Daniel S. Pacholec, who ran the Boston Marathon to raise money for the fund, and the organizers and performers of a concert at St. Theresa's Parish in South Hadley last month.

The diocesan Latino ministry is also planning a fund-raising event..

The committee is hopeful groups and individuals will contribute to the fund by sending donations to Fund for Hope and Healing, P.O. Box 4699, Springfield, MA 01101-4699.


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