Survivors First finished its first year in September.
Our "one stop donation" vehicle for survivors called
Survivors Appeal, raised $14,915 for survivors’ groups.
We are really thankful to three VOTF group for their
donations: Westford/Chemsford (MA) VOTF; St. Theresa
- VOTF Affiliate in Harvard; St. Albert the Great -
VOTF affiliate in Weymouth, MA. We also have a New York
supporter who donates $25 every week to the Survivors
Appeal. The money is distributed to SNAP, Linkup, Coalition
of Catholic and Survivors (CCS), Speak Truth To Power
(STTOP), and Survivors First. The distribution is based
on need and is overseen by our Board of Directors, which
includes Anne Hagan Webb, New England Coordinator for
SNAP; Sue Archibald, president Linkup; Larry Kessler,
founder Aids Action Committee; Susan Renehan, founder
Coalition of Catholics and Survivors.
Penny Kirk, parent of a survivor:
I have been speaking out at various meetings of VOTF
in Long Island, NY; Naples, Florida,; Fort Myers Florida;
Falmouth MA; and Winchester MA. The Long Island regional
meeting Dec.11 and the Brewster, MA meeting Jan.18 are
upcoming. I do hope these talks help to make people
understand that parents were doing all they could to
provide their children with the tools for success but
that all of us were fighting an unknown enemy. It made
our efforts impotent. As a result of the abuse of my
child, the extended family has left the Church and found
other ways to worship. So far, this makes 14 individuals
who have left their Catholic community as a result of
the reprehensible actions of one pathetic priest who
acted under the protection of the hierarchical system.
VOTF Winchester Area, MA – Marge Bean reporting.
On November 24 the Winchester Area VOTF met with four
survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. Kathy Dwyer, Dale
Walsh, Steve Lynch and Jeanne Cratty. They brought a
much needed awareness that their pain continues and
we need to be ever vigilant to protect children and
vulnerable adults, even with the settlement.
word "settlement" somehow conveys the meaning that it
is over. All you need to do is talk to a survivor and
you know it is far from over. The settlement is only
the beginning. While some have found healing, many survivors
are weary and fragile from the long battle. Steve Lynch
said our dialogue with him helped him to clarify his
thoughts as he met with the mediator the following day.
He found the meeting painful but somewhat relieving.
He continues in his long courageous journey for justice
and healing, and in seeking peace as he gives us all
Breault gave us a reference to a Web site on Bishop
Accountability, when one member of our group stated
that the abuse has stopped. Sexual abuse of children
is widespread throughout the world. One child abused
is too many.
Walsh was overwhelmed by the support. She said she felt
validated as a person, as people got to know her and
see her not just as a survivor.
Jeanne Cratty showed amazing courage in speaking with
her group. It was clear that her parents’ support is
a great blessing for her.
Dwyer continues to be strong in her perseverance in
abuse prevention. She was one of the leaders who worked
hard to produce the document “Call To Reform,” which
is on the VOTF Web site at www.votf.org. A group of
over twenty survivors came together to produce this
document that would offer guidelines to the Archdiocese
to be presented to Archbishop Sean O’Malley. Kathy noted
that the survivors came from different places, had different
experiences and feelings and expectations, but amazingly
came together to agree on the content of the five-page
document. All four of the survivors at this meeting
were part of the group that wrote the document.
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