Bishop Offers Mass of Healing for Abuse Victims

By Andrew Junker
Catholic News Agency
April 2, 2009

Gilbert, Ariz., Apr 1, 2009 / 05:08 pm (CNA).- Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted celebrated a March 25 Mass of Healing and Reconciliation at St. Anne Parish for victims of sexual abuse, their friends and families.

The diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection began offering these yearly Masses across the Valley in 2005. Jean Sokol, director of the office, said it’s a chance for people to come together and “pray for healing.”

“One lady said the Mass was very healing for her,” Sokol said. “It was very emotional, but she felt like her Church supported her.”

Sokol said the fact that Bishop Olmsted celebrates the yearly Mass is a sign of the diocese’s commitment to healing and reconciliation.

“He supports the Mass wholeheartedly, even in his busy schedule,” she said. “The bishop’s homilies are always awesome, too. He speaks to people’s hearts and brings peace.”

Before Mass, the couple of hundred congregants prayed a Litany of Healing that sought protection for children, wisdom for counselors and therapists and repentance for abusers.

Because this year’s Mass fell on the feast of the Annunciation, Bishop Olmsted encouraged those gathered to find solace in Mary under her name, Our Lady of Sorrows.

“The sexual abuse of young people and other crimes of abuse make us keenly aware of how such sinful activity undermines the common good, and sows fear and insecurity in people’s hearts throughout society,” the bishop said.

“And the offenses make it very difficult for anyone involved to continue to have faith in God,” he said. “Yes, difficult but not impossible, for nothing is impossible with God. And in our pain, Our Lady of Sorrows is always near.”

Our Lady of Sorrows understands the pain of those who have been abused, the bishop said. She knows about “sleepless nights” and the “temptations to abandon our hope.”

“We want you who are survivors of abuse to feel embraced by the prayers and compassion of our entire Catholic community,” Bishop Olmsted concluded. “Together with Our Lady of Sorrows, we wish to journey with you in the presence of Christ our Redeemer.”


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