Archbishop Lori invites parishioners to pray, learn more during Child Abuse Prevention Month

Catholic Review - Archdiocese of Baltimore [Baltimore MD]

April 8, 2021

By George P. Matysek Jr.

Archbishop William E. Lori is encouraging Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore to dedicate some time during National Child Abuse Prevention Month to pray for victim-survivors of abuse. At the same time, archdiocesan leaders are raising awareness about child protection through special prayer intentions at Mass, the distribution of information on child protection in parishes and an educational program in Catholic schools.

The archbishop will lead the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary for “healing and protection” from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore April 8 (see video below).

Auxiliary Bishop Adam J. Parker, a member of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and vicar general of the archdiocese, will additionally offer a noon Mass April 12 to commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Mass will be livestreamed nationally on the U.S. bishops’ Facebook page and at

“When a child is abused, the impact is devastating and long-lasting,” Archbishop Lori said. “Lives are shattered and sometimes faith can be shattered, too. We stand with victim-survivors and renew our commitment to providing safe environments for our children, as well as support and healing for those who have been abused.”

Archbishop Lori said National Child Abuse Prevention Month, observed annually in April, provides an opportunity for parishes, schools and organizations throughout the archdiocese to reaffirm their ongoing commitment to protecting young people from all forms of abuse and neglect.

The archbishop encouraged Catholics to visit the child protection page of the archdiocesan website for information on how the archdiocese supports victim-survivors and uses criminal background checks, safe environment training, mandatory reporting policies and other measures to protect children.

“The protection of our children is the responsibility of all of us,” Archbishop Lori said.

Jerri Burkhardt, director of the archdiocesan office of child and youth protection, said the archdiocese gives anyone who has been abused by archdiocesan personnel the opportunity to meet with Archbishop Lori or Bishop Parker. Sometimes those meetings result in an “ongoing dialogue,” she said. The archdiocese also pays for their counseling.

“Those are very important pieces of pastoral support,” Burkhardt said. “We also know that our faith tells us all of this must be supported with prayer – and that’s something that everyone in the archdiocese can do.”

Bishop Adam J. Parker and Archbishop William E. Lori are shown addressing the media in a 2019 file photo. (CR file)
Bishop Adam J. Parker and Archbishop William E. Lori are shown addressing the media in a 2019 file photo. (CR file)

The archdiocese distributed special prayer intentions for child protection that parishes are invited to use during general intercessions at Mass this month, Burkhardt said. Bulletin inserts with information about child protection have also been distributed. In addition, the archdiocese has developed a special educational program made available in Catholic schools during April that supplements the ongoing educational catechesis for family life that is taught in religion classes throughout the year.

Sarah Gregorini, associate director for the office of child and youth protection, helped develop the age-appropriate supplemental educational program focused on various “messages that protect.” In kindergarten, for example, a lesson plan focuses around the theme, “Always a Child of God: You are wonderfully made.” The sixth grade lesson talks about the difference between surprises, privacy and secrets, noting that people should not ask them to keep secrets from their parents or other trusted adults.

Jerri Burkhardt is director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (CR File)
Jerri Burkhardt is director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (CR File)

“The idea is for the children to discuss these messages with their teachers and then take them home to continue the conversation with mom and dad or their guardians,” Gregorini said. “Parents really are the key reinforcers.”

Gregorini said children will be encouraged to express themselves through artwork as part of the lessons.

“During National Child Protection Month, I really hope parents will inform themselves about the child protection policies in the archdiocese,” Burkhardt said. “Children are also involved in many things outside the archdiocese, whether it’s a sports team or a scouting organization. It’s important for parents to understand what’s being done in those organizations to make sure their children are safe and to make sure they know who the adults are that are monitoring their children or who have any responsibility for caring for their children.”

Email George Matysek at