Domestic violence is an issue that affects many families in our parishes and communities. With a focus on reinforcing and upholding the sanctity of marriage and family – domestic violence must be addressed through our faith communities.
October is designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and for good reason. In the United States, one in four women, (one in seven men) will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, and every day three women lose their lives.
“Through the Office of Marriage and Family Life, Catholic Charities and Safe Environment Office, we have partnered to build awareness, access to resources and support prevention of this sickness that has infected our families and communities,” states Becky VanPool, director of parish engagement at Catholic Charities.
“Our goal is to develop domestic violence ministries in our parishes throughout the archdiocese, so that families can escape the shame and destruction of this violence in order to promote healing and support for those caught in this cycle of suffering.”
Lisa Carrasco, interim director for the Office of Family Life, serves on the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and has been addressing this issue through conferences and marriage enrichment for more than 15 years.
“Domestic violence is a learned pattern of behavior that can be destructive to everyone involved – men, women and children.”
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form – physical, sexual, psychological or verbal is sinful; often, it is a crime as well.
In July 2016, when the USCCB called for a Symposium on Domestic Violence in Washington, D.C., three representatives of Oklahoma were invited to attend, Lisa Carrasco, Becky VanPool and Deacon Roy Callison.
After participating in the symposium, in a collaborating effort, a Domestic Violence Task Force was created and has been meeting over the past year with 10 local agencies to identify local resources and learn how to serve those affected in our families.
Special events to be sponsored in October include Mass for those affected by domestic violence at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 2 at the Catholic Pastoral Center, 7501 Northwest Expressway, celebrated by Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran, who stated in his 2006 pastoral letter, “We cannot, and must not, remain silent any longer. Accordingly, I call on all Catholics and people of faith to raise their voices, renouncing all forms of violence against women and, further, to commit to teach their children to reject this violence in all its forms. To ignore the call mandated by our Church tradition and the Sacred Scriptures, or to assert otherwise, diminishes God’s love, care and compassion for some of the most vulnerable of our times.”
Saint James the Greater Catholic Church will sponsor a presentation on “Domestic Violence: Our Church and Our Community – How We Help” at 7:30 p.m. Oct 9. Deacon Chuck Allen and Jan Peery, director of the YWCA, will share information on Church teaching and local resources to help those in need.
The 2017 Wreath of Hope Ceremony, an event to support domestic violence survivors and honor the victims who cannot speak for themselves, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 12 at the state Capitol south lawn at N.E. 21 and Lincoln Boulevard.
“Oklahoma is ranked 4th in the nation in the number of women who are killed by their intimate partner. We have the strength and faith to change that pattern and help families find peace. Our families deserve to be safe and loved in our homes. Change is possible, please join us and be the change!” VanPool said.