Every April, child and youth-serving organizations — including many Catholic dioceses, parishes, and schools — participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Month to highlight the importance of protecting minors from abuse. These efforts are part of the ongoing work of dioceses nationwide to carry out the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Although I’ve shared these words from Carolyn Shipp, who serves as the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese, before, I believe they bear repeating, “The scourge of clergy sexual abuse has deeply wounded so many people in our Church. It has touched every diocese worldwide and continues to affect us all — laity and clergy — in significant ways. While no single statement or event can make up for the painful abuse of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, as believers, we know that in Christ’s suffering, death, and Resurrection, we find hope beyond measure as we move towards a brighter future.”

Nothing is more important than the welfare of all members of our diocesan community, especially anyone who has been harmed or impacted by abuse in any way. To all survivors of child sexual abuse, I am deeply sorry. We, as a Church, failed when you were most vulnerable. I firmly resolve to do all we can to help you heal, make certain we are accountable, and protect our children so that no other child suffers as you have. Please know the Diocese of Fall River remains committed to resolving these matters in as fair and as transparent a process as possible and to ensuring the safety of all youth and vulnerable adults.

Committed to Being Part of the Solution

The Diocese of Fall River stands firm in its commitment to report abuse to law enforcement and cooperate with investigations. If you have been abused by someone representing the Church (priest, deacon, religious, employee, or volunteer), we are sorry. We are here to listen and support you. You can report an incident of abuse by contacting local law enforcement directly and by contacting Diocesan Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance – Carolyn Shipp at 508-985-6508 (confidential voicemail) or cshipp@dioc-fr.org. Carolyn can assist you in making a report and support you through the process.

Meet Carolyn Shipp, the Director of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance

Additionally, the Diocese has recently implemented an online reporting option: Awareity Incident Management System. Awareity is a comprehensive and confidential platform for reporting, tracking, and documenting incidents and concerns. Through Awareity, you can alert the appropriate Diocesan staff to red-flag behaviors such as:

  • Harassment
  • Boundary issues
  • Threats of violence
  • Concerning behavior by clergy, staff, or volunteers
  • Misconduct

The goal of Awareity is to identify red flags and warning signs before an incident occurs or escalates. Learn more or report an incident here: https://www.fallriverdiocese.org/safe-environment/report-an-incident-of-abuse

Prayer Service for Healing

In recognition of the important and still very much needed ongoing work of healing and prevention, I will preside over a Prayer Service for Healing on April 30th at Holy Name Church in Fall River.  

The service is open to all who wish to attend. For those who wish to join us in prayer but are unable to attend in person, you can watch via livestream on our Diocesan Facebook page. Please note: you do not need a Facebook account to view live videos. I encourage you, whether joining us on April 30 or not, you offer up prayers for healing and a restoration of hope in our Church, especially for anyone impacted by abuse. 

Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha

The Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Most Reverend Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River