Many experts in leadership emphasize that one of the first priorities of an effective leader is to establish a climate of trust. In other words, people need to know that they are safe in this environment that they are being invited into. This is especially crucial in a faith formation/spiritual environment where people are being invited to entrust their entire being to the Person of Jesus Christ and his Church. Doing the work of establishing trust is not an interruption in our evangelizing and catechizing efforts; it is a prerequisite to meaningful accompaniment and a crucial step in preparing hearts and minds to encounter Christ.
In order to establish a climate of trust and an assurance of safety in faith formation environments, dioceses are required to offer safe environment programs. I am quite proud to be associated with an excellent new resource for safe environment education from Loyola Press: Growing with GOD: Safe and Sacred™ (K–8). This practical and systematic approach to child safety and social and emotional development is based on the belief that protecting children from abuse is the shared mission of families, churches, and communities. Children are empowered to respond to troubling and potentially dangerous situations using the strategies and techniques they are taught as part of the program and to see themselves as children of God, inherently deserving of respect and care. Click here to see a program overview, and be sure to contact your Educational Consultant with any questions you may have about the program.
Together, let us work to create faith formation settings that exude a climate of trust so that all who gather to seek a relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ, know that they are safe because, “Love cannot live where there is no trust.” (Edith Hamilton).