Do our children feel safe?
Do they feel safe at home, at school and in our parish community?
Do they know that we want to hear their concerns and opinions?
Do we hear our children’s voices and take into account their views and perspectives?
Across our parishes – Camberwell, Balwyn Deepdene and Surrey Hills Wattle Park – we take seriously our commitment to create a safe environment and to look after the well-being of every child who comes into our community.
There are many opportunities for children to participate in our faith community: school mass, catechism classes, youth mass, children’s liturgy and altar serving to name a few. Each of us shares a responsibility to help children in our parishes to feel welcome and to feel comfortable participating as they grow in their faith and its practice.
Recently, our parishes held the first ‘Come and See Day’ where grade four students who had received their First Eucharist could come and learn about serving at Mass. Students from Our Lady of Good Counsel Primary School attended the session with interest and enthusiasm. It was a great opportunity to listen to our children and discover what they already knew about liturgical items and practices within the Mass. During the session, the students were shown a draft copy of a visual guideline for Altar Serving at Mass and asked for their feedback. After listening to the students, improvements were made to the guidelines to make them easier to follow from the perspective of those assisting in the Altar Serving ministry. Further feedback will be heard from students at Our Holy Redeemer School and Our Lady’s School when the ‘Come and See Day’ is rescheduled.
The Catholic Church in Australia marks the second Sunday in September as Safeguarding Sunday. We are each invited to think about our children and focus our intention to do all in our capacity to keep our children safe. Across our parish communities, we remain committed as a faith community to protect our children – “At Camberwell, Balwyn, Deepdene & Surrey Hills Wattle Park Parishes we hold the care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as a central and fundamental responsibility of our parishes.”
Let us work together to create a safe environment around our parish communities so that every child feels welcome and knows that their voices will be heard.
By Fr Trac Nguyen