By Mike Hoffman, Founder
I was so happy when my fellow co-founder Sooz Jeson chose renewal within our Church as the in-depth topic of this Special Edition. I participate in and foster renewal in my professional life by constantly adapting to ever-changing market conditions. I participate in and foster renewal in my family life with my wife and children. As we have teenaged children, there is constant change at our home, and I must adapt and grow. I participate in and help foster renewal in my parish life, doing my part to maintain a lively and vibrant faith community. As it relates to healing from childhood sexual abuse, I participate in and help foster renewal as a volunteer at the Archdiocese of Chicago, reaching out to others to help heal the wounds of childhood sexual abuse for individual abuse survivors, their family members and our larger Church family.
Just after our first edition of Healing Voices was published in January 2016, the Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, wrote his invitation to “Renew My Church.” Tom Tharayil, LCSW, the Director of the Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Assistance Ministry which offers hope and healing to victims-survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families, passed the invitation on to our founders group. In the article, the Archbishop wrote about “dreaming big,” “resilience,” “boldness” and much more. These words and the tone of his invitation speak to me, because, as a clergy abuse survivor and an active Catholic, I have big, bold dreams too.
For me, renewal can occur when a person takes a risk. The risk is to try something new outside of your regular routine or normal practice. A person would take that risk with the hopes of a positive outcome. In regards to efforts to heal wounds caused by clergy abuse of children, I believe the late Francis Cardinal George took a risk with the hopes of renewal in the lives of abuse survivors, family members and our larger Church family when he approved plans to build a Healing Garden as an additional outreach. A planning committee of four clergy abuse survivors, two priests and staff from the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth worked closely together in a true collaborative effort. On June 9, 2011 Cardinal George dedicated the Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago–a place dedicated to the healing and reconciliation of childhood sexual abuse survivors. This is a sacred space, situated right in the middle of a vacated city street in the heart of the City of Chicago. Inscribed on the plaques are words of apology, prayer, reconciliation and peace. A variety of public outreach events occur each year at the Healing Garden which provide opportunities to heal broken hearts and restore what was lost to the truth of the abuse.