CHARLESTON—Close to 300 people, representing 66 parishes in the diocese, attended the initial information sessions about RENEW, a new program aimed at helping parishes address the clergy sexual-abuse crisis and prevent it from recurring.
The sessions were held Nov. 18-22 in five deaneries: Jesus Our Risen Savior in Spartanburg, Our Lady of the Hills in Columbia, St. James in Conway, St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton, and the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Charleston.
Training sessions, which will provide instruction on how to present the program to participants, will be held in January and February. The program is scheduled to begin diocesan-wide the week of Feb. 24, 2020.
As of Dec. 16, the program had 15 parishes enrolled, with another 15 expressing interest. Sister Kathy Adamski said the program is designed to meet the needs of people in the pews, and all parishes are encouraged to participate. Training session enrollment is available up to Jan. 5.
“We are still in the process of following up with many other parishes,” said Franciscan Sister Kathy Adamski, associate director of the diocesan Office of Spirituality and Formation for Ministry.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone announced the program “Healing Our Church”, by RENEW International, in October, stating in a letter that he felt it was an ideal way to help Catholic laity address the challenging times faced by the Church.
“Healing Our Church” and its Spanish-language counterpart, “Sanando Nuestra Iglesia”, is wrapped into six sessions. Participants are encouraged to share their feelings about the crisis in small groups, embrace their role as members of the Church, and discern and commit to meaningful actions. Session topics include facing the truth, healing wounds, rebuilding the Church, why remain Catholic, what we believe, and how to find a way forward.
The November sessions were designed to inform priests, deacons and parish leaders how the program works. They were presented by Dominican Sister Terry Rickard, president of RENEW; Sister Ruth Bolarte, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and manager of Hispanic services; and Paul Krenzelok, sales consultant.
Parishes participating in the program will be charged on a sliding fee based on their offertory collection, Sister Kathy said. The fee ranges from $250 to $700. Books used in the “Healing Our Church” program cost $10 per person.
Sister Terry, from RENEW, said she is encouraged by the level of participation in the diocese.
“I am most touched by the people’s commitment to the Church, and to passing on their faith to the next generation. And the only way we can pass on the faith is by facing the sexual-abuse crisis head-on,” she said.