And the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture goes to: Spotlight
In case you missed my discussion about the importance of the movie Spotlight when it was released last November (https://saintjohntheevangelist.com/ministries/continuing-to-create-our-safe-environment-for-the-entire-parish-family), I underscored the fact that the Catholic Church is currently under the microscope for our behavior and lack of action in the face of real suffering at the hands of the members of our communities. This is real. This is not something that can just be forgotten or swept under the rug. The story of Spotlight is the uncovering of abuse that occurred in Boston by the Catholic Church in 2002. It continues to remind us that we must remain vigilant for all those that come to St. John, in search of healing, love, and acceptance, no matter if they are 5 years old or 105. We are all vulnerable in some way, and it is our responsibility to create this safe environment here within the campus of Saint John, a sanctuary where people can worship, laugh, cry, and come together in a joyous and restorative way every single day.
I have to take a moment to thank all of our ministries and their members for embracing this environment and moving forward with our Safe Environment program for all active ministers. It is essential to our Parish Family to make sure that every face they see at St. John not only illustrates the loving and merciful gaze of Jesus, but that they are ready to provide the protection of our Catholic Church. This program includes a Safe Environment Training program, which is only 2 hours long and full of important information on how to keep people safe and the warning signs we should be able to spot for people in trouble.
Several groups that are directly responsible for our safety, namely the Ushers and Greeters and the Knights of Columbus, have started the next step in our Safe Environment program. We were able to have the North Naples Fire Department come to St. John this past week to train and certify over 20 members in Crowd Management. What is Crowd Management? It is the ability to understand the physical environment and the people within it to ensure their safety. For example, we had over 750 people attending the Parish Picnic last weekend (a record, by the way). We needed to ensure that everyone was able to attend safely and that there was adequate emergency support for someone in case they had a medical issue, as well as to see when the room was over capacity to communicate the outdoor seating. Some of it is common sense. Some of it is situational awareness. Looking around the church, seeing it bursting at the seams during many Masses with standing room only, you can see how important Crowd Management is to our church.
Saint John is unique in this area for putting such an emphasis on your safety. We are proud of that fact. In fact, the other churches send their ministers to our offices and ask us questions about how to implement Safe Environment. It is not always easy and the systems are not perfect, by a long shot, so I appreciate all of your patience if you have had an issue in your background checks.
My wife can attest to the fact that I stay awake at night worrying about the safety of each one of you that so generously choose to make St. John part of your life. It is part of the fabric of our Parish Family that every single person that comes to our campus can feel safe and protected by God’s love and mercy.