A book with moving testimonies of survivors of abuse in Chicago
CHICAGO, ILL.- Compiled by Michael Hoffman and Fr. Larry Dowling, this little book (Acta Publications, 2022) is a compilation of moving testimonies of survivors of abuse, clerics, professional psychologists, lay Catholics and Church officials who reflect on the terrible scourge of sexual abuse.
ACTA is an acronymn to stand for A Commitment to All as a way “to remind ourselves that we are committed to our customers, authors, colleagues, suppliers, employees, and the communities we serve”.
The book is named after the Healing Garden of the Archdiocese of Chicago, a place for silence, remembrance and prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation for anyone who has suffered the effects of such terrible plague. While, as the introduction says “healing is a personal journey that cannot be programmed”, the garden provides a place where people can find solace and recuperate some sense of peace.
The reflections are poignant, at times very painful, but there is a general sense of hope and peace in their words and feeling.
One of the reflections, by Wina Schaufler (a good longtime friend of the Teresian Association), has these beautiful lines: “Healing is lonely… Our bodies need time to recover. Our minds need time for processing our experience…. Gardens bring us back to life. We feel the wind, the rain, the cold, the heat. .. If we are able, we see the birds land on the branches, the butterflies “flying by”. We feel our heart beating, knowing we´re alive”.
The lessons learned, the sorrows endured, the peace that now starts to spring from the efforts of the Christian community to address the terrible issues associated to sex abuse, also bring a reason to celebrate, as Fr. Larry Dowling says in his reflection. “The Church”, he says, “has learned so much from our coming to terms with the horrors perpetrated on children and youth in our midst…. As people entrusted with this experience and gained wisdom, we cannot—we dare not—let it lie fallow. What will we do as the greater Church, with this “garden” that has been entrusted to us?
An invitation to accompany, reconcile, and continue to fight against the darkness that has enveloped so many in recent decades. ACTA can be reached at: email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Carmen Fernández-Aguinaco)