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Protecting God’s Children

Archbishop Gilbert (centre) with members of the clergy in a group session.
Archbishop Gilbert (centre) with members of the clergy in a group session.

The Archdiocese Family Life Commission in collaboration with the Catholic Commission for Social Justice successfully launched one of the VIRTUS’s programmes “Protecting God’s Children” on March 29 at Our Lady of Fatima Church, Bushe Street, Curepe.

Facilitating the programme were Dr Dexter and Frieda Shim, a married couple nominated by the Archdiocese, along with Leela Ramdeen, Chair of Catholic Commission for Social Justice. Archbishop Edward Gilbert was among the 98 attendees of priests, deacons and administrators.

Dr Dexter and Freida Shim
Dr Dexter and Freida Shim

The clergy session included two awareness videos, “A Time to Protect God’s Children” and “A Plan to Protect God’s Children”, in combination with some group discussions and group work with the aid of a workbook.

A brief introduction into the VIRTUS programme starts off with its actual name, “VIRTUS” being a brand name that identifies best practices programmes designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promoting “rightdoing” within religious organisations. The VIRTUS programme empowers organisations and people to better control risk and improve the lives of all those who interact with the Church. The programme was conceived, developed and financed, by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group Inc, USA.

Awareness has a special focus in this programme. Adults should be aware of the ways children and adults interact with each other. In this regard, educating and training our clergy members, staff, volunteers, parents and other adults about the warning signs of abuse, the ways to prevent abuse, the methods in properly reporting suspicions of abuse, and procedures for handling allegations of abuse.

Incorporating the programme into the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain, the hope is to maximise the church’s role in Trinidad and Tobago as a child-safe environment.


–          “Makes one more aware of how to interact with people, especially ministries pertaining to young people. This programme needs to be presented to other ministries.”


–          “A well presented programme. This must be presented to teachers and volunteers involved with children.”

–          “A very good programme; essentially increases awareness.”

Article appeared in Catholic News April 24, 2011

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