Lina’s Project brings people together in East Maitland

Last Wednesday evening around 50 people gathered in the grounds of St Joseph’s Catholic Church in East Maitland to take part in a regional Lina’s Project event.

The Atonement: Lina’s Project was devised by Lina, herself a victim of clergy sexual abuse, as a way of rebuilding her own trust in the church and bringing some healing to the “average, ordinary human beings” whose skin had been “burnt, scorched and blistered” by the actions and inactions of the church.

It is Lina’s hope that Lina’s Project and the audio-visual presentation that is key to it will bring some measure of healing to the whole community through acknowledgement, recognition and atonement.

The regional event was a chance for people from the Maitland region to gather together, enjoy a barbecue dinner and watch the Lina’s Project presentation projected onto the façade of the church. With the support of the Chisholm Region Catholic community, people were welcomed to the gathering and the occasion was a strong statement of support for victims and survivors. The Mayor of Maitland, Loretta Baker, and the State Member for Maitland, Jenny Aitchison, were both present and it was wonderful to have them there, lending their support.

Any time we can bring people together like this is an opportunity for us to listen and respond with compassion and justice.

Sadly, every region within the diocese has its own history in terms of child sexual abuse by clergy and other church personnel so bringing Lina’s Project to different areas of the diocese can only extend the message of atonement and healing and allow for more open dialogue to take place in a spirit of recognition and hope.

The diocese will continue to reach out to various regions in the diocese to determine what is needed to bring healing to those areas. Information about any future Lina’s Project events will be available on the Lina’s Project website –  ‒ as well as being advertised locally.

At the Lina’s Project launch event last year, Bishop Bill Wright made a number of commitments to continue to acknowledge and support survivors. These were to:

  • work with schools, particularly sites of abuse, to plan memorials and events of acknowledgement
  • consult with survivors and the community to plan a permanent memorial in the grounds of Sacred Heart Cathedral
  • make 15 September a perpetual day of remembrance and hold events each year on this day to acknowledge victims and survivors in order to work towards healing in the community

To this end:

  • the diocese will also be working with schools within the region, particularly those that were sites of abuse, to plan events of acknowledgement
  • in 2018, the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will be consulting with survivors and the community to plan a permanent memorial in the grounds of Sacred Heart Cathedral so that the diocese’s history of child sexual abuse and cover-ups by clergy, religious and other church personnel is never forgotten
  • each September 15 will be a perpetual day of remembrance in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. This day will be marked in a variety of ways, arising from conversation with survivors and the wider community.

People are invited to contribute to these projects by leaving feedback on the Lina’s Project website.

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Joanne Isaac Image
Joanne Isaac

Joanne is a Communications Officer for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and a regular columnist for Aurora Magazine.