I am writing to invite you to a very important meeting for all of our parish volunteers, no matter what ministry you might be involved in.
The purpose of this meeting is to introduce to you a new program that has been mandated by the Archdiocese and which affects all parish volunteers. This program is called, "Strengthening the Caring Community" and it entails a whole new way for us, as a parish, to work with our volunteers. It is a program that has several purposes: first, to ensure that we do all we can to protect the vulnerable people we serve; second, to ensure that we work as effectively as possible with our volunteers, making sure that we have the right person, with the right gifts, doing the right ministry; and third, to do all we can to protect the financial resources of the Archdiocese by ensuring that we protect ourselves from liability when someone decides to sue us. This program involves the screening of all volunteers as well as an ongoing program of good volunteer management.
The fact that this program is being initiated in the parishes of the Archdiocese should not be of surprise to anyone. All organizations that work with vulnerable people are required by society today to have in place procedures for screening and monitoring volunteers. This program was originally introduced in 1999 by the Ontario Provincial Government, in collaboration with a national organization called Volunteer Canada, under the title, "The Ontario Screening Initiative". At that time the Government invited all sports groups, community groups and faith groups to participate. Of the faith groups the Roman Catholic and Anglican Bishops of Ontario and the United Church Presbyteries all agreed to be involved. Thus, not only is the Archdiocese of Toronto initiating this program, but so is every Catholic diocese in the province as well as all the Anglican diocese and the Presbyteries of the United Church.
We want you and all our volunteers to understand what this program will entail and how it is not only for the protection of the vulnerable and the Archdiocese but also for you as well. Since this program affects you directly because you are a volunteer in the parish, I wanted you to hear about the program first before I introduced it to the whole parish community.
Rev. James Hannah