Volunteering at Saint Cecilia

At Saint Cecilia, we emulate Christ’s selfless love by actively participating in acts of charity and kindness, thereby fostering a sense of community and fulfilling our call to care for the less fortunate. For those parishioners looking to lend their time and talents, we invite you to complete the following paperwork and mandated trainings.

(1) Complete Our Application for Ministerial Involvement

At Saint Cecilia, we ask our volunteers to complete a brief form that collects vital, basic information like emergency contacts, what ministries you’re interested in, and a short acknowledgment that you’ll complete the necessary background check and one-time training to volunteer in the Archdiocese. Collecting these details allows us to take diligent care of our volunteers (you!) and the children and vulnerable members of our parish, so we appreciate your cooperation in helping us create a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. 

After downloading and filling out this online form, please return it to the parish office in person or via email. Thank you!

(2) Background Check (CORI) & Reviewing Archdiocesan Policies

The Archdiocese of Boston, in compliance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has firm guidelines for volunteers in parish ministries. One of these requirements is that every year volunteers complete a CORI.

At Saint Cecilia, we ask our volunteers to complete their annual CORIs each January (new CORIs must be returned to the parish office by February 1) and when a new volunteer begins. Unsure if you need to (re)submit a CORI? Email Nicole Pascarelli O’Brien, our Pastoral Director of Operations, here.

Along with completing a CORI, the Archdiocese asks that we share the following two documents for volunteers to review: the Archdiocese of Boston Volunteer Code of Conduct and the Archdiocese of Boston Sexual Harassment Policy

(3) VIRTUS “Protecting God’s Children” Training

All volunteers are required by the Archdiocese to complete VIRTUS “Protecting God’s Children” (PCG) training. This is a one-time obligation, unlike the annual CORI process. Volunteers are defined as parishioners participating in ministries, serving on councils, and doing any volunteer work. If this is you and you have not done the training, or if you’d like to get involved with a ministry, please make a VIRTUS account and sign up for one of the diocesan courses once you’ve registered. 

Please note: You can only view available courses after making an account in the VIRTUS Online portal.

You can learn more about this mandated training by scrolling down on this page.

Upcoming VIRTUS Training at Saint Cecilia
Sunday, September 8, 11:00 a.m. | Community Room

VIRTUS is the umbrella term for a two-part training designed to keep children safe in the parish setting. The Archdiocese requires this two-part training of all volunteers and staff who have the potential for direct contact with children or the vulnerable due to their involvement in the parish. The first part, Protecting God’s Children (or PGC), is a training on how to recognize the signs and symptoms that a child is being abused and how to talk with children about these issues. The second part is mandated reporter training.

All parish staff and volunteers are mandated reporters and are required to attend this one-time training. If you intend to volunteer in the future and haven’t attended this training before, please join us. Please note that both parts will be covered in Sunday’s session and the training will be approximately 3 hours, including videos and group discussion.

If you’d like to join us in person for a training at Saint Cecilia, please make a VIRTUS account and register in advance. Doing so will create a permanent record of your participation and completion of the training. If you can’t register online, please join us anyway and come a few minutes early so you can be registered in the system. Thank you so much, and we look forward to seeing you!

For Those Who Reside in States Other Than Massachusetts

The criminal record check request (CORI) that the archdiocese submits through the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) returns information only on arrests, open criminal cases, and criminal convictions that occurred in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If a Saint Cecilia volunteer is a resident of a state other than Massachusetts, the following must be observed:

1. Individuals who, in the past twelve months, have lived outside of Massachusetts must submit a CORI request and obtain a report from the state where they reside. Please see this document for a list of designated agencies for each state and territory. Please contact the agency in your state to request that a CORI be conducted. Be sure to ask that the results be sent to: Attn: Carol L. Thomas, The Office of Background Screening, Archdiocese of Boston Pastoral Center, 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, MA 02184-3839

2. In addition to the above, non-Massachusetts residents are also required to submit a Massachusetts CORI request. Once you complete this form, you need to present us with a government-issued photo identification such as a driver’s license, a passport, or a state-issued ID card. This verification can be done over Zoom. Please contact Nicole Pascarelli O’Brien in the parish office for help facilitating this.

Policies & Procedures for the Protection of Children

The Archdiocese published the current set of “Policies and Procedures for the Protection of Children” in 2003. This document contains information about safe environment education programs, pastoral outreach services to victims of child abuse, policies about reporting abuse and neglect, and how complaints of child abuse are handled by the Archdiocese. In 2004, the Office of Child Advocacy, Implementation and Oversight also published a condensed “Pocket Guide to the Policies and Procedures for the Protection of Children” that focuses primarily on reporting incidents of child abuse. The condensed version also contains a one-page flow chart with a sequence of actions to follow (and organizations and phone numbers to call) if child abuse is suspected, disclosed, or observed. The complete bound text of the policy, “Policies, and Procedures for the Protection of Children,” as well as the smaller “Pocket Guide,” are available in the narthex and in the Parish Office. There are also links to both of these documents below.

Child Abuse Prevention

At Saint Cecilia, we have a Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Team. The CAP Team is responsible for educating all parish clergy, employees, and volunteers in mandated reporting laws and for facilitating the VIRTUS “Protecting God’s Children” training required of all clergy, employees, and volunteers who minister directly to or have the potential for interaction with children, youth, or vulnerable parishioners. The CAP Team members have been trained by the Archdiocese and are available to provide consultation and support to anyone in the parish who may suspect, observe, or be the recipient of a disclosure of child abuse or neglect. Parishioners should always feel free to contact any member of the CAP Team with any questions or concerns.

The Saint Cecilia Child Abuse Prevention Team

Erin Young, MSW, LICSW

Erin Young is a clinically trained, independently licensed social worker who has been a member of Saint Cecilia Parish since 2010. Before moving to Boston in 2010, Erin and her husband lived in Detroit, Michigan where Erin worked as a therapist and was trained in providing therapy and counseling for sexually traumatized children. She currently works at a regional health insurance provider guiding behavioral health clinical strategy and program development. She is a graduate of Kalamazoo College, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion and Political Science, the University of Michigan, where she received her Master’s in Social Work, and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst where she received her Master’s in Business Administration. Both she and her husband are active lectors at Saint Cecilia.

Letitia Howland

Letitia Howland has been a member of Saint Cecilia Parish since 2003 and volunteers in various parish ministries, including lector and hunger and homelessness. She is a passionate advocate for children, especially those pushed to the margins. Her background includes various senior leadership roles with Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Inc. along with a variety of management positions worldwide with General Electric Company. She also volunteered for a year in New York City with Covenant House, a homeless shelter for young people aged 18-21. Letitia graduated from St. Lawrence University with a bachelor’s degree in economics. 

Maria R. Roche, NP

Maria Roche has been a parishioner at Saint Cecilia Parish since 2005 and has three children who have gone through the Faith Formation Program. She has worked in the nursing profession for more than twenty years, including thirteen years as a nurse practitioner and nursing director of the Gynecologic Oncology Research Program at Mass General Hospital Cancer Center. She also volunteered for ten years as a nurse practitioner serving homeless and runaway youth at Bridge Over Troubled Waters. She is currently working in biotech, running oncology clinical research at Blueprint Medicines. Maria received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at Georgetown University. 

Two Personal Safety Programs for Children in the Parish

We are aware that children are taught about personal safety at home and oftentimes in school. However, children learn more about safety and are more likely to follow safety rules when they have multiple opportunities to practice and talk about these matters. Therefore, in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Boston’s Office of Child Advocacy, we have implemented two personal safety programs for children:

Talking About Touching

Talking About Touching was developed by the Committee for Children (CFC), a nonprofit organization that has researched and developed award-winning social-emotional skills curricula since the late 1970s. CFC is committed to its mission to promote the safety, well-being, and social development of children by creating quality educational programs for educators, families, and communities. Children enrolled in our Faith Formation Program who are in grades K2 through 3 have three classes dedicated to the Talking About Touching program. The Talking About Touching program uses time-honored, developmentally appropriate teaching techniques to help children learn safety skills. These include refusing and reporting unsafe touches but also encompass basic safety skills (such as for cars, bikes, and fire) and the Always Ask First Rule. It’s a great way to talk to young children about sensitive but essential topics.

Each of the four grades has its own set of lessons starting with basic safety lessons, such as “Learning Gun Safety—Never Playing with Guns” and “Bicycle Safety,” then moving on to such topics as “Secrets About Touching—Telling a Grown-Up” and “Learning to Be Assertive—Standing Up for Yourself.”

Keeping Children Safe

Keeping Children Safe was adapted from the Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education developed by the Michigan Department of Education under a grant issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health. Children enrolled in our Faith Formation Program who are in grades 4 through 8 have three classes dedicated to the Keeping Children Safe program. The curriculum includes a review of the safety rules with increased emphasis on the ability to judge risks, a discussion of power and when it is appropriate for others to have power over them and when it is not, a discussion of peer pressure and power, babysitting and appropriate touch, internet and cyber safety, bullying, and making responsible and healthy choices.

How to Report Crimes Against Children

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the Massachusetts state agency charged with the responsibility of protecting children from child abuse and neglect. To report abuse or neglect, call the Child-at-Risk Hotline any time of the day or night at 1-800-792-5200. State law requires professionals whose work brings them in contact with children to notify DCF if they suspect that a child has been—or is at risk of being—abused or neglected. The Department receives reports on more than 100,000 children each year. Archdiocesan policy requires all of us to be protectors of children by being aware of how to make a report. A report is to be filed with DCF when we have reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the age of 18 is suffering a physical or emotional injury resulting from abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) or neglect of any kind.

The requirement is to immediately report these situations by phone to DCF and to follow up with a written report within 48 hours. Anyone can make a report if there is a reasonable cause to believe that a child is suffering in this way. See our pastor, faith formation director, or a member of our Child Abuse Prevention Team if you have any questions. DCF can be reached at 617-748-2444 or via the Child-at-Risk Hotline: 1-800-792-5200.

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