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Who We Are

 

In Dallas, 2002, at their Annual Meeting, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops drafted a landmark document in response to the crisis of sexual abuse of children in the Church. This document, setting forth their agreed upon responsibilities in combating the problem, was entitled the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The charter specifically created the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and assigned to it three central tasks:

  • To assist each diocese and eparchy (eastern Rite Churches) in implementing "Safe Environment" programs designed to ensure necessary safety and security for all children as they participate in church and religious activities
  • To develop an appropriate compliance audit mechanism to assist the Bishops and Eparchs in adhering to the responsibilities set forth in the Charter
  • To prepare a public, annual report describing the compliance of each diocese and eparchy to the Charter's provisions

The Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection is a resource for dioceses/eparchies for implementing safe environment programs and for suggesting training and development of diocesan personnel responsible for child and youth protection programs; taking into account the financial and other resources, as well as the population, and demographics of the diocese/eparchy. The Secretariat produces an annual public report on the progress made in implementing and maintaining the standards in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People following an annual audit process. The report is public and includes the names of dioceses/eparchies that the audit shows are not in compliance with the provisions and expectations of the Charter.

Office Staff

Deacon Bernie Nojadera,executive director, served as Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults with the Diocese of San Jose, California, from 2002-2011. He has a bachelor of arts degree from St. Joseph College, Mountain View, California, in 1984; a master of social work degree specializing in health and mental health services from San Jose State University in 1991; and a master of arts in theology from St. Patrick’s Seminary and University, Menlo Park, California, in 2002. He has been a member of the Diocese of San Jose Safe Environment Task Force, involved with the San Jose Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the County of Santa Clara Interfaith Clergy Task Force on the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and the County of Santa Clara Task Force on Suicide Prevention. He has worked as a clinical social worker for Santa Clara County Mental Health (1991-2000) and is a military veteran. He is married and has two children.

Mary Jane Doerr, associate director, holds a BA in Behavioral Sciences from Nazareth College, Kalamazoo and a MA in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University. She has more than 20 years experience as an educator in the following roles: as a classroom teacher, an elementary school principal and a college instructor. She joined the Diocese of Kalamazoo in 1994 where she worked in stewardship and development. In 2003 she was appointed the Safe Environment Coordinator for the diocese and in 2006 was promoted to the Director of the Safe Environment Office overseeing all compliance issues related to the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. She assumed the role of Associate Director in the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in July 2008.

Laura Garner, executive assistant, joined the staff of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection on January 3, 2011.  Previously, Ms. Garner served as a Staff Assistant in the Office of the General Counsel with the USCCB since 2008. Ms. Garner holds a BA in Psychology from Loyola College and an MA in Art Therapy from George Washington University.  Before joining the USCCB, she worked at home as a medical transcriptionist while raising four children.  Other employment includes bank teller, paraprofessional, computer educator, and receptionist.

Drew Dillingham, office specialist, has served the Conference since July 2013. Drew holds a BA in Political Science and a Master's of Public Policy from Stony Brook University, NY.

 



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