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Diocese hopeful that masses for abuse victims will bring healing

.- Staff of the Arlington Diocese are hopeful that a series of healing masses this fall for victims of sexual abuse will continue the healing and reconciliation process that started June 30, when Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated the first such mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More.

"The wounds from sexual abuse are deep and devastating," Patricia Mudd, victim assistance coordinator for the diocese, told the Herald. "We must come together to pray for victims of abuse, their families and the entire Catholic community.”

Mudd is responsible for recording the basic information when a call comes in on the diocesan hotline from someone that has suffered sexual abuse, and she determines the direction the case should take. If it involves the abuse of a child, she is required by law to report it to state authorities.

Accusations are then turned over to Oblate Father Mark S. Mealey, moderator of the curia, who gathers additional information to present to the Diocesan Review Board.

"We do invite victims to come forward and report to us," said the professional social-service worker, who has dealt with many cases of violence and abuse in her 31-year career. "They might not be ready now, but the door is always open for them and their families. Bishop Loverde has also asked me to express his sorrow and willingness to meet with victims to offer spiritual assistance toward their healing."

The diocese will consider paying for counseling, said Mudd, who is finalizing a list of qualified therapists and pastoral counselors to whom she can refer victims.

The first healing mass will be at St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax Station held Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Other masses will be offered at All Saints Church in Manassas Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m., and at St. Mary Church in Fredericksburg Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, consult the diocesan Web site:
http://www.arlingtondiocese.org/

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