March 23-29, 2006
Healing Through God’s Love
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
New Group Forming for Those Dealing with Abuse
The priest sex-abuse scandal has created tidal waves nationwide over the course of the past few years. Recently, Teresa Secreti, the diocesan assistance coordinator and the diocese’s first point of contact for those who have suffered from sexual abuse within the church, listened to the voices of those still spiritually wounded and developed a new approach.
“What I’m hearing is that people want a group setting for spiritual healing,” she said. Beginning April 6, a group designed to facilitate healing for those affected by sexual abuse will be launched. The group will meet the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Spiritual Renewal Center, 1118 Court St., Syracuse. Secreti, who has over 30 years of experience dealing with victims of sexual abuse, stressed that the group is open not only to those who have experienced sexual abuse in the church but also parents, siblings and spouses who have been impacted by the crisis.
Secreti’s job was born in 2003 in the wake of the scandal’s initial eruption. One of the first steps she took in developing the group was finding a spiritual director. In Kathleen Owen, Secreti found someone with 25 years of experience in the field in various dioceses. Currently, Owen is the pastoral associate at St. Francis Xavier Church in Marcellus. In the past, Owen has dealt with victims of sexual abuse but she admits the group setting is different from anything she has done before. Owen believes the new environment will afford her an opportunity to enhance her own spirituality as well as that of the group.
“I expect it will broaden my own experience with God as well,” she said, adding that she could not speculate on how many people will attend or what their demeanor will be. Owen noted that the group experience is not a substitute for therapy but that it will focus on developing and nurturing the individual’s relationship with God.
“The goal is to bring healing to the development of spiritual growth and also God’s role in that development,” Owen said. Owen said that when the sex-abuse scandal first came to light in the Syracuse Diocese, it created spiritual mayhem for many people. Many of the individuals who are in search of healing are spurred by anger or sadness and by questions regarding God’s role in their lives. Owen stressed that the actual work of the group flows through the will of God. “If anybody comes, they’re being called by God to greater spiritual growth,” she said