Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz is encouraging parents to enroll their children in the archdiocese’s safe environment program, “Circle of Grace.” The program provides information to children about their value and sacredness and the importance of asking people they trust to help them when they feel mistreated or when they are exposed to things that make them uncomfortable.
In a letter to Catholics across the archdiocese, Archbishop Schwietz also encouraged parish workers and volunteers to make sure they are up to date with archdiocese’s safe environment training.
The letter was sent out for the Sept. 20 Catechetical Sunday, a day in which the U.S. church highlighted the importance of being formed in the faith. This year’s theme was “Safeguarding the Dignity of Every Human Person.”
“As your archbishop, I emphasize the importance of this message of protecting the dignity of all,” Archbishop Schwietz wrote. “One way in particular that I would like to see our archdiocese live this out is encouraging all parents to ensure that their children attend their faith formation classes, especially as we teach our safe environment program, Circle of Grace.”
He added: “I also encourage all those ministering to minors and/or vulnerable adults, to enthusiastically comply with the archdiocese’s safe environment requirements of being trained and having a background check completed.”
Archbishop Schwietz noted that Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity to “reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of their baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel.”
“Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for us all to rededicate ourselves to this mission as a community of faith,” he wrote. “As parents, catechists, ministers, family members, students and parishioners, we serve as models to each other on how to live out our baptismal promises especially in regards to how we protect the dignity of all people.”
Quoting a statement by Archbishop Leonard Blair, chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Schwietz emphasized that the “dignity of each human person rests in the biblical teaching that he or she is made in God’s image and likeness. It also reminds us that we the baptized may need to actively support and protect others from all sorts of harm, cherishing human life from the moment of conception to a natural death.”