Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Whole Lot of Hope

Written by  Fr. David Tumback

Friday, May 5th was a momentous day for many. That evening, our Cathedral parish hosted a highly successful fundraiser for Mary's Hope, a ministry based out of the Cathedral and working in conjunction with Legacy Ridge Foundation to provide spiritual healing to women and men who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. It was important for us as a community to be involved with this ministry. Early on in his Pontificate, Pope Francis urged the faithful to go to the fringes. He eloquently stated that such journeys would take us to a messy world and yet, he called upon us to never lose hope and to trust where God was leading us.

You see talking about and discussions about childhood sexual abuse (let alone the notion of ministering in this area) is not a popular thing. There is nothing elegant, romantic or feel-good about the issue. Such abuse is dark and evil. It is gut-wrenching, and many times the horrific actions forced upon these children are unbelievable, especially when the abuser is a family member or known friend. Our notions of family love are thrown out the window when we hear the terrible stories that children endured at the hands of the very ones who were to protect them. Being sexually abused by the people who are to love and to protect destroys the fabric of a trusting relationship but also, unfortunately, greatly affects the relationship with God. The questions, although painful, are very real: Where was God when this was happening? How come I sang "Jesus loves me this I know" but that same Jesus didn't stop the rape? Why did God hate me that much that I had to go through this?

Yes, those questions, as painful as they are for us to hear, are real. Recent statistics indicate that, at a minimum, 20% of children will be abused by the time they are 18. I tend to believe that number is higher. In more than 20 years of priestly ministry, I have encountered many who were sexually abused as children who simply were able to find an inner resiliency to deal with the issue on their own. Many others, however, tried but failed and the failure led to drug and alcohol addiction, botched relationships, prostitution and ultimately and most devastatingly, suicide.

Some will say to just let it go. Others have told me this should be the responsibility of the government and the health system. Still others have challenged me with "doesn't the Church have other things to worry about?"

To be honest, blunt and Christ-like, the answer to that question is a resounding NO. No, we are not going to stay silent, especially when some of the perpetrators of the abuse were Catholic priests. No, we are not going to dump this on other agencies, authorities or systems. No, we are not going to perpetuate the "do nothing" attitude that allows so many to suffer silently day by painful day by painful day. As Jesus the Christ demanded of us all: the Shepherd lays down their life for their sheep.

And so, on May 5th, I was surrounded by a large group of Shepherds who made a courageous decision to stage a public fundraiser for the healing ministry of childhood sexual abuse and trauma. As delicate as the issue was, far more brave were the souls who knew we had to do this. God was asking us. Our Holy Father was encouraging us. Jesus was needing us.

As Kim Stobbe shared her own story of childhood abuse, there was an eerie silence in the crowd of more than 350 people. Tears streamed down the faces of many as Kim courageously put a real face to such abuse. Her message was heard. Hearts were touched. Many found a sense of liberation and a 60 year old survivor said this was the first time in her life that she had ever felt affirmed. When Kim finished her talk, there was an energy in the hall that I have never felt; an energy that pounded out the message that we must continue this ministry and reach as many broken souls as humanly possible. The energy that night was pure and unadulterated hope.

And so we celebrate this great gift of hope. I thank all the Shepherds who gave of themselves for the sake of others. I invite all of you to join us in bringing hope to survivors. I acknowledge the women of Mary's Hope and Legacy Ridge (Kim, Elizabeth, Lorie and Vera) and the survivors who continue to bring inspiration and joy into my life. You are a true blessing and a sign of a Whole Lot of Hope.

Fr. David

(If you desire to help us with this ministry through prayer, financial support or volunteer efforts, please contact Lorie Harrison at (306) 659-5815 or Fr. David at (306) 659-5800. If you are a survivor in need of a listening ear and heart, please call those same numbers.)


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