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VIRTUS

As the Church of St. Mary, the safety and protection of our children and students is of the utmost importance. We provide a secure environment for all children and we conform to the regulations set by the Archdiocese of Chicago. VIRTUS "Protecting God's Children" is the diocesan program regarding child sexual abuse that is mandatory for all personnel and any volunteers working with children.

For questions about the VIRTUS "Protecting God's Children" program, or for additional information about upcoming sessions, please contact the Parish Center at 847.234.0205.

VIRTUS Frequently Asked Questions

Those who have attended the VIRTUS "Protecting God's Children" training program report coming away somewhat startled, but educated regarding a very serious subject: child sexual abuse. Having gone through the training session, they now better understand why this program is mandatory; some participants expressed thankfulness for the opportunity to learn how to better protect their children, and the children they work with, from harm.

Those who have not yet attended a VIRTUS training session have asked for more clarification. Below are several questions and answers regarding VIRTUS.

Q: What is VIRTUS?

A: VIRTUS (Latin for "virtue") is a mandated program (three to four hours of instruction) regarding child sexual abuse that, per Diocesan policy, all parish, school and diocesan personnel and volunteers, who have regular contact with minors, are to attend.

Q: Who mandated this program?

A: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (www.usccb.org/ocyp) in June 2002. The charter "directs action in...creating a safe environment for children and young people." A National Review Board was also set up to audit each diocese in the U.S. on an annual basis regarding implementation of this charter.

Q: But the charter doesn't mention VIRTUS by name. Where does VIRTUS come from?

A: Each diocese chooses what programs it will use to comply with the national charter. In the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Cardinal has designated the VIRTUS training program as part of the strategy to create "a safe environment for children and young people." Thus, the Archdiocese of Chicago, under the direction of Cardinal Francis George and his auxiliary bishops, has mandated that all church and school personnel who work with children attend a VIRTUS training session. In addition, the Archdiocese mandates all volunteers, chaperones, coaches, scout leaders and anyone who works with children to attend.

Q: Who is running the program at the Diocesan level?

A: The Archdiocese of Chicago has established a coordinator to oversee the VIRTUS "Protecting God's Children" program. The coordinator is Carolyn Perz (312.534.5388 x123 or cperz@archchicago.org).

Q: Who really needs to go to this?

A: Per Archdiocesan policy, all church and school personnel who work with children must attend a VIRTUS training session. In addition, the Archdiocese mandates all volunteers, chaperones, coaches, scout leaders and anyone else who works with children to attend a training session. In fact, any parent (including one who may never volunteer at school or school-related functions) can benefit from the program and should, therefore, attend.

Q: Why?

A: The program is an introduction to child sexual abuse and child sexual abusers. It provides some statistics on child abusers, including how child abusers meet and interact with potential victims. It provides safety suggestions, warning signs and procedures to follow when questionable practices are noticed. It provides information that may help you protect your child and will help you to be a better volunteer and work with other children in a safe, positive atmosphere.

Q: I'm very busy. Are you sure this is worth my time?

A: Yes! Undoubtedly. The presentation is professionally researched and presented. The perpetrators you will meet in the videos are real child sexual abusers; the victims are real victims. The information you will learn will help you to be a better parent and a better employee or volunteer. And, if by spending three hours at this session, you are able to save one child from sexual abuse--ever--the session paid off a hundredfold.

Q: Do I just show up at one of the scheduled sessions?

A: No. You must register for the VIRTUS training, by visiting the VIRTUS website at www.virtus.org. Most sessions are limited; sessions are closed when the limit is reached. You can attend a VIRTUS training session anywhere (even outside the Diocese). If you do so, you will need to provide your school or parish with a certificate of attendance for their records.