RENEW program planned to help laity with Church crises

SOUTH CAROLINA—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone recently sent a letter to parishes announcing that a new program is coming to the Diocese of Charleston that is designed to help people face the issue of sexual abuse in the Church and begin the healing process. 

“Evangelization and spiritual renewal are at the very roots of the Church’s life and our pastoral ministry,” the bishop wrote. “During this challenging time in the history of our local church I have been seriously reflecting upon and praying over how best to implement these core elements of the Gospel.”

“Healing Our Church”, a process that has seen success in other dioceses, is offered by RENEW International. The program helps Catholic laity address the twin crises of clergy sexual abuse and the coverup by Church leaders, according to RENEW literature.

Participants are encouraged to share their feelings about the crises in small groups, embrace their role as members of the Church, and discern and commit to meaningful actions through six sessions. The sessions cover the topics of facing the truth, healing wounds, rebuilding the Church, why remain Catholic, what we believe, and how to find a way forward.

“Because ours is a faith of new beginnings, we at RENEW developed this resource, hoping that it will help begin the healing process and empower the laity to take on their responsibility, with the clergy, for the reform of our Church,” said Sister Terry Rickard, president of RENEW International. 

Bishop Guglielmone’s letter stated it will be available to every parish in the diocese in both English and Spanish, with the goal of bringing healing and new life to parishioners.

To start, representatives from RENEW International, in coordination with the diocesan Office of Spirituality and Formation for Ministry, will present “Healing Our Church” in five deaneries the week of Nov. 18 to inform priests, deacons and parish leaders how the program works.

Additional training sessions will be held in January and February, and the program is scheduled to begin in all parishes the week of Feb. 24, 2020.

RENEW has met with success in other dioceses, including the Diocese of Allentown, Pa., which had over 5,000 people participate, RENEW leaders stated.

 “’Healing Our Church’ will help the faithful deal with the complex emotions this scandal has caused and start on the path to healing and renewed discipleship,” Bishop Guglielmone stated.

Training sessions will be held at Jesus Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg, Our Lady of the Hills in Columbia, St. James in Conway, the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Charleston, and St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton.

For more information, contact Franciscan Sister Kathy Adamski, 843-834-2570; or Cathy Roche, 843-261-0504.