“Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish…”
Healthy Families, Safe Children is an 18-part Catholic parenting series which combines the best in science, faith and common sense to help families survive living in this culture in crisis. Fratres supports this comprehensive “Catholic program” for authentic renewal of families and protection of children and encourages all fellow Catholic bloggers to join with me in helping promote this most praiseworthy work. May it’s goodness spread throughout every U.S. diocese and permeate our families for the good of American culture in this hour of need.
james mary evans
By Bishop Robert Vasa
BEND — Besides the usual activities of traveling to parishes for confirmation, such as those at Merrill and Bonanza, the past few weeks have seen a significant amount of activity on the program with which I am very much involved titled, Healthy Families: Safe Children. Most of this article will concern itself with this program but first a couple of comments about my delightful trip to Merrill and Bonanza. Merrill has the distinction of being the southernmost parish of the diocese. As the crow flies it is probably less than 3 miles from California. Its mission at Bonanza has the distinction of being identified with Lost River. Neither Merrill nor Bonanza are “lost.” In fact, I found both of them to be quite vibrant and energetic. Like the other parishes I have visited this year, I found that the children were well instructed and eager to respond to my questions. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and commend them for their persevering fidelity. It was a delightful visit.
Now for some more extensive comments about Healthy Families: Safe Children. Several months ago the Board of Ardor, Inc. made the decision to publish and distribute the program on our own. This was, in itself, a huge leap. Then we decided that we needed to take the accompanying workbook and produce from it two separate works, a presenter’s workbook and a participant’s workbook. This has now been accomplished. The presenter’s workbook is essentially the same as the original workbook with the addition of a significant number of presenter notes, which give suggestions for introducing the various segments of the program. The participant’s workbook has been streamlined just a bit in order to make it more cost effective and thus more suitable for group use.
I mention this because, while there has been a great deal of interest in the program, that interest has not translated into a purchase commitment on the part of those who have shown interest. While I am very appreciative of the interest and the support which that interest provides for me and for those who have worked so hard on the program, the reality is that interest alone, while encouraging, is not ultimately effective. A very rough tally of the viewers on the program clips provided through Securechild.org indicates that the site and the video clips have been accessed more than 1,100 times. If every one of these had translated into an order for the program, and I know that such a hope is completely unrealistic, I would now be in discussion with the Board about the details of our next foray into program production.
Since I am never averse to reusing my own material I went to the workbook and found the foreword that I wrote for the program. I think it provides a very good overview of the program and I reproduce a significant portion of that here: Healthy Families: Safe Children addresses the moral crisis of culture, parenting styles, and child development, especially the development of moral values rooted in the dignity of human relationships. The program integrates the timeless truths of the human person from the perspectives of philosophy and theology with the most recent findings in neurophysiology, social biology, and psychiatry in order to provide parents with effective methods for communicating with their children, for preventing problem behaviors, and for guiding their children along healthy developmental pathways. Every parent can glean insightful information to reinforce, improve, and heal family relationships. While this program is primarily for parents, it will benefit any adult who is in a position of trust, authority, and responsibility for children. It provides adults of any age with a valuable experience for self-reflection and provides a deep understanding of the roots of morality and healthy relationships.
I believe that Healthy Families: Safe Children is an important contribution to the “wider context” of moral renewal recommended by Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of his pastoral visit to the United States. In his address to the Catholic Bishops on April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict spoke about the issue of the clergy sexual-abuse scandal and the bishops’ response to it. He said: “If the policies and programs to protect children from sexual abuse you have adopted are to achieve their full purpose, they need to be placed in a wider context. Children have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person. We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. Every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish.”
Healthy Families: Safe Children strives to do what Pope Benedict proposes. It is a program to assist parents in promoting the sound moral formation of children while protecting their innocence and guarding them from abuse. It is my prayerful hope that Healthy Families: Safe Children will contribute to the moral renewal of our society and the building of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth — one child at a time.
Several hundred copies of the program have been distributed primarily to those who generously made advance contributions to enable us to move forward with the production of this series. I am very grateful to all who have assisted us financially to produce the program which is now available for all. I invite all recipients of this message to distribute it as a kind of advertising blitz with the hope that the Securechild.org Web site will be flooded with visitors and orders.
I suspect that this article could lead to an accusation of self promotion, but my belief that this program provides a necessary and valuable contribution to the whole area of the protection of children compels me to accept the risk of such an accusation.