Volunteers To Be Screened

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Church volunteers will now be required to go through a screening process before being accepted into any of the 56 volunteer positions. You read right, 56 volunteer positions! They range from Adoration Coordinator to Youth Minister Assistant. This, the result of recent abuse scandals and insurance brokers who looked at the existing protocol and said it isn’t adequate and needs to be re-written. It’s called Protocol for Responsible Parish Ministry and the Archdiocese is now looking for a Responsible Parish Minister Protocol Coordinator who is to make sure the protocol is implemented in each parish and adhered to. Each position has a job title and description and all parishes will have to use this list of titles so there is no confusion of who is doing what from parish to parish. Again, all because the liability insurance people want clear rules and of course, so do the legal people.

The Protocol suggests recruiting methods to get the right people in the right position, details how the screening process is to be conducted, references checked and if the individual is accepted for whatever position, the training and monitoring required. If the volunteer is to work in what is called a high security position, children, vulnerable adults, or in what are called isolated situations or handling money, a criminal check is required that will be seen only by the pastor. If the volunteer’s birthday happens to match with someone who has a criminal record, finger printing will be required to clearly identify the individual and ensure he/she .is not the criminal. The criminal check and, if necessary, finger printing fee of $25. is waved for non-profits.

This has been in the works for about a year. A special committee has taken the protocol to the deaneries, and the people from the deaneries are to take it to the parishes and train the folks there.

So how is this going to be accepted with the volunteers, because up to this point, people were asked to serve, given an orientation of what is expected and away you go. Now they’ll have to go through this process. Peter Bresciani is a former Superintendent at the Catholic Board of Education and one of the members of this special committee. He said they had concerns about the same thing when a similar system was instituted in Catholic Schools, but he said, the number of volunteers actually increased. Perhaps because as Deacon Barry Wood who had a hand in writing this new protocol said, this thing works two ways; besides protecting children and vulnerable adults it also protects the volunteers against false accusations.