The past few decades have been an extraordinarily difficult time for the Catholic Church – for its leadership, for its members, for the clergy, and particularly for the victims of clergy sexual abuse. As a Catholic priest, I can tell you that the subject of sexual abuse, especially at the hands of clergy, is truly gut-wrenching.

It is heart-breaking to think that I am a brother of deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals who have used their power and leadership to abuse adults and children, boys and girls. As tough as it is, it cannot be swept under the rug or hidden in the crevices. In addition, I feel that I must apologize for this abuse, as weak and insignificant as that apology (mea culpa) may sound, to these victims whose lives have been so much changed by these brutal acts.

I hope that we, the clergy, may open our doors to listen, to support, and to pray for our brothers and sisters who have experienced inhumane abuse. Our deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals must continue to seek justice and penance for all who have acted against God’s children.

In this spirit, our local Catholic churches will be setting aside time and resources for a “Service of Prayer, Song and The Word” on Sunday, June 9, at 6 p.m. at St. Thomas Catholic Church, International Falls. Everyone is welcome to attend this service, especially sisters and brothers who have experienced a traumatic event in their lives: abuse of sexuality, emotional difficulties, violence or brain illness.

In sponsoring this service, we are joining with many other parishes in our diocese who have gathered together to help victims walk with God’s love and compassion. Together, they go forward not only with our ordained ministers, but with parishioners, community members, and professional counselors who have expertise in assisting those who have been abused and who will be present and available on Sunday evening.

This event will offer music, readings from the scriptures, and a time for peaceful reflection and personal prayer, as well as an opportunity for those gathered to share their stories, if they would like to. No names will be shared, and those who would like to speak with a counselor, a friend, or to me may do so anonymously in private, secured locations.

Please consider joining us as we take some time to support victims of sexual abuse from members of the clergy. In this way, we are opening the windows and the doors to clean up our house so that it may be purified and cleansed from God Himself.

Hadrich serves as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Columban parishes.

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