Safe Parish

Online Course Sign-up Instructions

When registering for the Safe Parish Online Course you will need to set up an account.

Create a username and password. Keep them in a safe place for future use.

Wait up to 24 hours for your account to be activated by the the Chancery Office. Then you can revisit the site, log in your account and do the course step by step. At the end, print your certificate, make a copy and bring it to your parish office.

A reminder will be emailed to you from the Chancery Office when it is time for you to renew your Safe Parish Course.

SAFE PARISH POLICIES AND GUIDELINES

Diocese of St. Paul

St. Paul, Alberta

Developing a Safe Parish Community

(revised Oct 15, 2013)

Context This policy is designed to complement the Diocese of St. Paul’s existing policy

Responsibility in Ministry.

Preamble

The purpose of the Developing a Safe Parish Community policy is to create a safer social environment in our parishes. This involves reviewing the lay out of parish buildings as well as identifying ministry positions which could put children, youth, or other vulnerable persons at risk of being harmed. The goal is the increased protection and safety of our parishioners, our volunteers, our staff, and our Church. Thus the Developing a Safe Parish Community policy is intended to be a permanent feature of parish life.

Introduction

This policy outlines a series of administrative and pastoral steps at the parish level that will create a safer environment for all members of our faith community.

The policy is in six parts:

Part One: Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee

Part Two: Mandatory screening procedures for all who minister in the diocese,

    • Clergy (priests and deacons)

    • Salaried employees

    • Volunteers

      • At general risk level

      • At higher risk level

Part Three: Ministerial and procedural guidelines for creating a safe community for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults

Part Four: Requirements for annual orientation sessions for all ministers, employees, and volunteers

Part Five: Responsibility chart summarizing roles and timelines required to ensure the successful implementation of this policy

Part Six: Master copies of forms referred to in this policy:

    • Safe parish community pledge

    • Ministry letters of reference

    • Ministerial risk assessment for parishes

    • Screening requirements reporting form

Part One: Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee

1.1 The pastor is to establish a Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee in order to implement and monitor this policy.

1.1.1 The committee will consist of 3 positions. (minimum)

· The pastor.

· Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council. (Chairperson of Safe Parish Community Committee.

· A parish member.

In the absence of a Parish Pastoral Council:

· Two members of the parish as judged suitable.(Member to be assigned Chair)

1.2 The Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee will:

· Become familiar with this policy.

· Meet at least every six months to review its implementation.

· Examine the parish’s buildings in order to insure that necessary renovations are completed so that parish office space, interview rooms, meeting rooms, and classrooms are open and visible areas as described in par. 3.1.

· Publicize the Developing a Safe Parish Community policy to local parishioners explaining why the policy is necessary and what parishioners can do to support it.

· Work with the pastor in the completion of the Ministerial Risk Assessment Form (6.3) and the Screening Requirements Reporting Form (6.4).

o When committee members are satisfied that the above forms are complete and accurate, they should sign them.

o If a disagreement develops over the completion of forms 6.3 and 6.4, the diocese should be contacted for advice and direction.

· Become a vigilant presence in the parish working to insure that the ministerial and procedural guidelines (3.1) are indeed followed and observed.


Part Two: Mandatory screening procedures for all who minister in the diocese

2.1 Clergy - candidates for the priesthood and permanent diaconate will undergo a rigorous screening program which includes:

· Personal reference checks

· Criminal record check

· Personal interviews

· Completion of a battery of psychological tests and an integrative report

· Observation by faculty and staff regarding the candidate’s suitability for ministry.

2.2 Priests or deacons from another diocese or a priest who is a member of a religious order who wishes to minister in the Diocese of St. Paul must obtain the permission of his bishop or superior who will submit a certificate providing full disclosure attesting to the good character and history of the priest candidate.

2.3 Religious brothers or sisters applying to minister in the Diocese of St. Paul must obtain the permission of his or her superior who will submit a certificate providing full disclosure attesting to the good character and history of the religious.

2.4 Ministries shall be assigned a risk level of either general risk or higher risk based on four criterions as outlined in the following chart. If any ONE of the criterions applies, the position is considered higher risk; if none apply, it is considered of general risk.

Criterion indicating higher risk ministry CHART

Participant

The participant is:

  • a child under 16 years of age

  • a physically or emotionally vulnerable person

  • a disabled senior

Setting

Ministry takes places in:

  • an isolated place (a private home, a cabin, a tent, etc.)

  • a closed room without windows

  • a motor vehicle

  • a private one-on-one setting

Activity

Ministry involves:

  • visits in a hospital or nursing home

  • youth being away from home and overnight on a trip, retreat, etc.

  • a high degree of physical or emotional involvement (for example: coaching or counselling)

  • direct handling of money

  • free access to church buildings, offices, computers, files, or property

  • access to confidential information

Supervision

Ministry

  • receives little or no direct supervision

  • involves meetings or events that are not publicized or documented

2.5 Based on these four criterions, the most common ministries in the Diocese of St. Paul have been initially categorized into two columns: higher risk and general risk, as follows:

Diocesan Categorization of Ministerial Risk

Higher Risk CHART

General Risk CHART

  • Coordinator of children altar servers

  • Adult altar server

  • Bereavement team coordinator and members

  • Baptism prep team member or coordinator

  • Children’s choir director

  • Adult Religious Education teacher or coordinator

  • Collection counter

  • Parish committee member: liturgy, parish council, social justice, finance, catechesis, RCIA

  • Building custodian

  • Adult choir director

  • Extraordinary minister of communion to the sick, to senior’s lodges, etc.

  • Liturgical ministry volunteers: lector, extraordinary minister of communion, hospitality, ushers, and decorations

  • Parish secretary

  • Marriage preparation team member and coordinator

  • Pastoral minister who visits parishioner’s homes

  • Teacher of children’s catechesis.

  • Outreach to the poor volunteer

  • Prayer group director

  • Spiritual director/companion

  • Youth minister

  • Sport’s coach

2.6 Revising Risk Assessments:

The Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee shall determine the actual conditions in their parish that would require a ministry to be either upgraded or downgraded in its risk assessment. They are to review the ministries offered in their parish and (using the four risk criterions of: participant, activity, setting, and supervision) categorize each ministry as either general or higher risk. Each parish is to complete the form “Ministerial risk assessment for parishes,”(par. 6.3) and submit it to the Bishop or his delegate on the date indicated. The diocese can be contacted for advice in completing this form.

2.7 Permission to minister

Employees and volunteers must satisfy particular requirements depending upon the risk level of their position in order to be approved to minister in a parish or at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre:

General risk - a position that is categorized as general risk requires that:

· The individual reads and signs the document “Safe parish community pledge,”

· And that by including this persons name on form 6.4 “Screening requirements”, the Parish Committee is recommending and granting permission for this person to minister as a church volunteer.

Higher risk - a position that is categorized as higher risk requires:

· submission of a criminal record check indicating no convictions

· that the form “Ministry letters of reference,” be completed and returned directly to the parish office by two parish members (and not by the volunteer)

· follow up phone calls to the two references, if there are any concerns expressed on the reference form

· mandatory attendance at the orientation session: “Developing a safe parish community”

· signing and submitting the “Safe parish community pledge.”

2.8 Renewal of permission to minister

When an employee or volunteer has satisfied the screening requirements and is approved to serve in a parish, that approval is normally renewed automatically each year for a maximum of five years. After five years, a new screening process will be undertaken.

2.9 Transferring permission to minister from parish to parish

Permission to minister in a parish for an employee or volunteer is not transferrable to another parish. If a volunteer or employee moves to another parish, they shall undergo a new screening. The exception would be those parishes that are served simultaneously by the same pastor. In this case of “clustered parishes” a pastor may well employ a single team of volunteers to serve, for example, a common youth group. In cases like these, volunteers would not have to be separately screened for each parish, a single screening in one parish would be sufficient.

2.10 Confidential storage of reference forms

All copies of criminal record check, ministry letters of reference, and notes based on follow-up reference phone calls are to sent to the Diocesan Pastoral Centre and kept in a locked file. They are not to be copied, circulated, or otherwise distributed to outside organizations or institutions.

Part Three: Guidelines for a safe parish community

3.1 Ministerial and procedural guidelines for creating a safe parish community for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults

§ All religious instruction of children and youth is to be done in a public, group format with at least two adults present at all times. One-on-one instruction in a private place as well as in-home religious instruction is not allowed.

§ One-on-one counselling, interviews, and discussions are to be conducted in a space that is visible to others. All rooms used for these purposes are to have clear glass windows or doors, and the door should be left open when the room is in use unless confidential issues are being discussed.

§ The celebration of Reconciliation with children is to be done in a space that is visible to others (clear glass windows and doors, or open doors,) or in a traditional confessional.

§ Ministers and volunteers shall not be alone with a child, adolescent, or vulnerable adult in a rectory, automobile, or in private living quarters.

§ Ministers and volunteers shall not seek out opportunities to spend off-site time with children to whom they minister.

§ Ministers and volunteers will set and keep appropriate boundaries with those to whom they minister. Hugs and kisses for younger children and physical “rough-housing” with older children shall be appropriate and occur in public. The adult party shall exercise due discretion.

§ Overnight trips, parish picnics and socials, are to be carefully planned so as to ensure privacy, modesty, and safety of all participants. Ministers and volunteers are never to be alone with children and adolescents during an overnight trip but are always to work as teams of at least three. Parents are to be closely involved with the preparations, planning and execution of all overnight trips. A sufficient quorum of parents to ensure child safety shall be present on the trip.

§ On overnight trips, segregated change areas are to be provided for boys, girls, men, and women. Adults shall not sleep in proximity to children.

§ Adults shall not help children with toileting without explicit permission from parents/guardians. Toileting assistance for children shall normally be undertaken by two adults.

§ Ministers or volunteers shall not take any money or property in return for their ministry apart from contractual salaries or approved stipends.

Part Four: Requirements for annual orientation sessions for all ministers, employees, and volunteers

4.1 It is the Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee’s responsibility to ensure that all of their parish’s clergy, employees, and volunteers in higher risk ministries attend a diocesan or parish orientation session that provides an overview of the “Responsibility in Ministry” policy and the “Developing a safe parish community” policy.

4.2 The Diocese of St. Paul will train and implement this policy. The diocese will conduct the opening orientation sessions which will be offered at a regional centre in each deanery and then annually as required at St. Edouard Retreat Centre for all the parishes. The Safe Parish Community Committee will be responsible to ensure attendance in compliance with this policy.

4.3 By January 31th of each year the Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee will submit a list of all clergy, employees, and volunteers indicating the ministry of each person and the successful completion of all requirements of the screening policy. A form for this purpose, “Screening requirements reporting form,” (par. 6.4) is also available for downloading from the diocesan website.

Part Five: 5.1 Responsibility chart summarizing roles and timelines required to ensure the successful implementation of this policy

CHART

Task

Person responsible

Timeline

-Screening of candidates for priestly and diaconal service, and screening of priests, deacons, and religious from other dioceses or from religious orders who wish to serve in the Diocese of St. Paul.

Bishop

Candidates will be screened early in their formation and clergy and religious from outside the diocese will be screened prior to beginning ministry.

-Completion and submission of the form “Parish ministerial risk assessment.”

DSPC Committee

October 1 of each year

-Ensuring that employees and volunteers complete their screening process prior to beginning ministry.

DSPC Committee

December 1 of each year

-Providing oversight and supervision to ensure that the guidelines for creating a safe parish community are followed.

DSPC Committee

Ongoing

-Submission of a parish report to the diocese indicating completion of the screening process for all who minister in the parish.

DSPC Committee

January 31 of each year

-The parish’s report on the screening process for all staff is to be reviewed and either accepted or returned to the parish for improvement.

Bishop or designate

March 1 of each year

Part Six: Master copies of forms:

[ALL FORMS FOUND IN PART SIX ARE AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOADING FROM THE DIOCESAN WEB SITE]

6.1 Safe parish community pledge

I, ________________________________ wish to serve at ________________________ parish. I understand the importance of my role in ensuring a safe environment for all to whom I minister. I have read and understood all of the directives below. I pledge my support to observe these directives and to do all that I can to encourage others to do the same. If I become aware that any of these directives are being violated, I will notify my pastor or the Diocese of St. Paul.

§ All religious instruction of children and youth is to be done in a public, group format with at least two adults present. One-on-one instruction in a private place as well as in-home religious instruction is not allowed.

§ One-on-one counselling, interviews, and discussions are to be conducted in a space that is visible to others. All rooms used for these purposes are to have clear glass windows or doors, and the door should be left open when the room is in use unless confidential issues are discussed.

§ The celebration of Reconciliation with children is to be done in a space that is visible to others (clear glass windows and doors, or open doors,) or in a traditional confessional.

§ Ministers and volunteers shall not be alone with a child, adolescent, or vulnerable adult in a rectory, automobile, or in private living quarters.

§ Ministers and volunteers shall not seek out opportunities to spend off-site time with children to whom they minister.

§ Ministers and volunteers will set and keep appropriate boundaries with those to whom they minister. Hugs and kisses for younger children and physical “rough-housing” with older children shall be appropriate and occur in public. The adult party shall exercise due discretion.

§ Overnight trips, parish picnics, and socials, are to be thoroughly planned so as to ensure privacy, modesty, and safety of all participants. Ministers and volunteers are never to be alone with children and adolescents during an overnight trip but are always to work as teams of at least two. Parents are to be closely involved with the preparations, planning and execution of all overnight trips. A sufficient quorum of parents to ensure child safety shall be present.

§ On overnight trips, segregated change areas are to be provided for boys, girls, men, and women. Adults shall not sleep in proximity to children.

§ Adults shall not help children with toileting without explicit permission from parents / guardians. Toileting assistance for children shall normally be undertaken by two adults.

§ Ministers or volunteers shall not take any money or property in return for their ministry apart from contractual salaries or approved stipends.

Date: __________________________ Signature_______________________________________

6.2 Ministry letter of reference

(to be photocopied on parish letterhead and accompanied with an envelope self-addressed to the parish)

Developing a safe parish community reference letter

Throughout Alberta, volunteer organizations and churches are asking their volunteers to provide references. This is done to ensure the safety of children, the elderly, vulnerable adults, and the volunteers themselves. The information on this form stays in a confidential file in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre and is not shared with any outside organizations or institutions.

(name) is interested in volunteering at this parish and has chosen you as a reference. We wish to receive current, accurate information about this person. The information you provide will be an important tool in our decision-making process. (A relative cannot be a reference.)

Please print your name, address, and contact information:

Name ____________________________________

Address ___________________________________

Town _______________________ Postal code _______________

Phone # __________________________________

E-mail (if possible) ___________________________________

1. What is your relationship to the person named above? How long have you known this person?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

2. How would you describe his/her ability to work with others?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

3. How would you describe the candidate’s character, personality and temperament?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

4. What would you identify as this person’s strengths?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________


5. If you have to suggest some areas of improvement, what would they be?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

6. How well does this person work as part of a team?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

7. On a scale of 1 to 4 indicate by placing a mark under the appropriate number, how well, in your opinion, does this person exhibit the following traits?

CHART

Trait

Very little

Very much

Dependable 1 2 3 4

Trustworthy 1 2 3 4

Honest 1 2 3 4

Considerate 1 2 3 4

Emotionally Stable 1 2 3 4

Tolerant 1 2 3 4

Respectful 1 2 3 4

8. Would you recommend this person as a church volunteer, and do you have anything further to add?

______________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

Signature: ____________________________________________date: ____________________

Please return this reference form in the addressed envelope provided. Please seal the envelope.

You may be contacted at a later date by a parish representative, if clarification is required.

6.3 Ministerial risk assessment for parishes

Parish Name: ___________________________________________________

The Developing a Safe Parish Community Committee has categorized all of the ministries in our parish as either general or higher risk according to the criterion provided in part two of the diocesan policy “Developing a Safe Parish Community.” (Attach supplemental form 6.3.1 for each ministry position below) The ministries active in our parish and their ratings are as follows:


Ministry title

General risk

Higher risk

  • Adult altar server

  • Adult choir director

  • Adult Religious Education teacher or coordinator

  • Baptism prep team member or coordinator

  • Bereavement team coordinator and members

  • Building custodian

  • Children’s choir director

  • Collection counter

  • Coordinator of children altar servers

  • Extraordinary minister of communion to the sick, to senior’s lodges, etc.

  • Liturgical ministry volunteers: lector, extraordinary minister of communion, hospitality, ushers, and decorations

Ministry title

General risk

Higher risk

  • Marriage preparation team member and coordinator

  • Outreach to the poor volunteer

  • Parish committee member: liturgy, parish council, social justice, finance, catechesis, RCIA

  • Parish secretary

  • Pastoral minister who visits parishioner’s homes

  • Prayer group director

  • Spiritual director/companion

  • Sport’s coach

  • Teacher of children’s catechesis.

  • Youth minister

Use the blank spaces to identify and categorize ministries in your parish that are not among those listed.

______________________

Signatures of Committee Members:

Title

Name

Signature

Date

Chairperson

Pastor

Committee Member

Committee Member

Committee Member

Committee Member

Committee Member

Committee Member

6.3.1: Supplemental Ministry Risk Assessment Check List

“A Safe Community Parish”

CHART

(see section 2.4 of the Policy, attach to summary form 6.3)

____________________________________ Parish Date: _________________________

__________________________________________ circle your evaluation (Higher Risk) or (General Risk)

Volunteer Position

Where an activity involves one or more of the following please use a check mark as appropriate. The check mark indicates that the higher risk screening requirements is assigned to this volunteer position:

Participant

The participant is:

· a child under 16 years of age

· a physically or emotionally vulnerable person

· a disabled senior

Setting:

Ministry takes place in:

· an isolated place (a private home, a cabin, a tent, etc)

· a closed room without windows

· a motor vehicle

· a private one- on- one setting

Activity:

Ministry

Involves:

· visits in a hospital or nursing home

· youth being away from home and overnight on a trip, retreat, etc.

· a high degree of physical or emotional involvement (for example: coaching or counselling)

· direct handling of money

· free access to church buildings, offices, computers, files or property

· access to confidential information

· transporting persons under 16 yrs old or vulnerable adults (see below)

Supervision:

Ministry

· receives little or no direct supervision

· involves meetings or events that are not publicized or documented

Screening Requirements

Higher Risk

Ø Reads and signs “Safe Parish Community Pledge.”

Ø Two letters of reference .

Ø Attendance at Diocesan/Parish orientation session.

Ø Criminal Record Check

General Risk

Ø Reads and signs “Safe Parish Community Pledge.”

Drivers ( in addition to the above screening requirements under activity): Drivers abstract and upgraded auto insurance is to be on file. (see Diocese Transportation Policy)

Comments if any: (for additional space use back of the page)


Signatures Pastor: _________________________

PPC Chair: _________________________

Member at Large: _________________________

6.4 Screening requirements reporting form

This form is to be completed, signed, and returned each year to the Pastoral Centre by January 31st. Run off additional pages as required. [The form is available by download from the diocesan website.] Place check marks in the appropriate blank spaces for each minister, indicating completion of indicated requirements. If some screening requirements are still outstanding attach an explanatory note to the form indicating why, and an approximate date when the required tasks are expected to be completed.

Parish name: ___________________________________________Reporting year:_______

General risk ministries

Ministry Title

Name of person

Has Read and Signed the “Safe parish community pledge” and is recommended to minister as a church volunteer.

New Addition to General Risk Ministry

Diocese of St. Paul , “Safe Parish Community”

CHART

High risk ministries

Ministry title

Name of person

Has read and signed the “Safe parish community pledge”

Two letters of reference

Attendance at diocesan/parish sponsored orientation session

(date)

Criminal record check submitted


New Additions to High Risk Ministries

Workshop Sponsor (Diocese/Parish)

Leader/Coordinator

Dat

Signatures of Committee Members:

Title

Name

Signature

Date

Chairperson

Pastor

Committee Member

Committee Member

Committee Member

Diocese of St. Paul , “Safe Parish Community”