Lina’s Project was conceived by Lina, herself a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of a member of clergy in our diocese. Lina wanted to bring healing to the whole community. Lina felt that by acknowledging the devastation caused to victims and survivors, naming the perpetrators of these crimes and those who concealed the abuse and begging forgiveness would be a positive step forward in seeking atonement.
To build on the work of Lina’s Project, the diocese will be facilitating a regional event in East Maitland in February with the support of the Chisholm Catholic community. The event will involve a shortened version of the Lina’s Project presentation being projected onto the façade of St Joseph’s Church in East Maitland every evening between 8pm to 9pm from Sunday 18 February until Thursday 22 February.
As part of this, there will be a barbecue from 6.30pm on Wednesday 21 February. The whole community is invited to attend the barbecue to support victims and survivors and gather in a spirit of recognition, healing and hope. The barbecue will be held on the grassed area near the Therry Centre. After the barbecue people can choose to stay to watch the projection onto the church if they wish.
As you may know, as part of the launch event last September, the diocese projected the presentation onto the façade of Sacred Heart Cathedral for a week. This was a powerful statement to victims and survivors and the entire community that the Church in our region was acknowledging the criminal history and concealment that has led to ongoing devastation in so many lives. As Bishop Bill said in the apology that was printed in the launch event program:
“What we can do is come together in acknowledging what has happened and what it has done to us. If we can share the story and own the story, perhaps we can speak of our feelings with each other more, listen to each other better and support each other with greater understanding.”
He went on to make further commitments such as permanent memorials and a perpetual day of remembrance each September so that “the story is not forgotten and our determination that it not be repeated never fades”.
When the presentation was projected onto the Cathedral many gathered, some on the grounds, some in cars across the street, to watch the presentation. Some people came each evening to watch. Feedback received by the diocese was that while distressing for some victims and survivors who were there, the projection was a welcome step. Those gathered came together in a spirit of support and care. By humbly accepting and publicly acknowledging the criminal history of our diocese and reaching out to those so irreparably affected by these crimes it is hoped that this Lina’s Project event will enable some measure of healing to the Maitland community.
It would be wonderful to see many attend the barbecue.