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Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of sexual abuse

Pope Francis’ Worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse will be marked in Ireland on Friday 16th February.  This is the First Friday in Lent and the day that the Irish Bishops’ Conference has chosen to mark the annual day of prayer.  It first did so in 2017. 

Pope Francis’ idea for the day of prayer came from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors: http://www.protectionofminors.va/content/tuteladeiminori/en/resources_section/day-of-prayer_page.html

The day is marked around the world: http://www.usccb.org/news/2016/16-121.cfm.

Some of the diocesan events and liturgies taking place in dioceses are as follows: 

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, will offer the celebration of a dedicated Mass for survivors of abuse in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, at 10.00am on Friday 16 February and all are welcome.

The Parish of Middle Killeavy, Newry, in the Archdiocease of Armagh, will pray the Stations of the Cross for Survivors and Victims of abuse in the Church of the Assumption, Drumalane, at 7.30pm on Friday 16 February.

Ardagh and Clonmacnois
Bishop Francis Duffy will celebrate Mass in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, at 10.00am on Friday 16 February.

Worldwide Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of sexual abuse will be marked in Clonfert Diocese on Friday 16 February in Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Loughrea, with a Holy Hour at 6.00pm lead by Bishop John Kirby to pray for Survivors and Victims of Sexual Abuse.

The World Meeting of Families icon will be in Newry Cathedral from 11-17 February.  A special programme of prayer will be organised for the week.  Thursday 15 February will be marked as a Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of abuse, with exposition from 9.00am till 9.00pm – breaking for Mass at 10.30am – ending with a Holy Hour from 8.00 -9.00pm, which will be lead by Bishop John McAreavey.

Priests and people from across the diocese, including those who work in the area of safeguarding, will be invited to visit the Cathedral on that day.

Liturgical Resources

The following text for prayer was sent to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin by a person who suffered abuse so that it could be shared in parishes. This prayer was inscribed on the healing stone which was unveiled at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012 and now has its permanent home at Lough Derg, Co Donegal. 

Lord, we are so sorry
for what some of us did to your children:
treated them so cruelly,
especially in their hour of need.
We have left them with a lifelong suffering.
This was not your plan for them or us.
Please help us to help them.
Guide us, Lord, Amen.

Paidreacha dIdirghui
A Dhia, tá aiféal orainn
as ucht na rudaí a rinne cuid dúinn dod phaistí:
gur caitheadh leo chomh chrualach,
in am a gátar ach go háirithe.
Dfhágamar iad le cruatan saoil.
Níorbh é seo do scéim dóibh súid ná dúinne.
Cabhraigh linn le cabhair a thabhairt dóibh súid.
Treoraí sinn, a Thiarna, Amen.

Reflections from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, 2011


Prayers of Intercession:
With humility of heart, we pray to God,
whose love and faithfulness endures forever.

  1. We pray for people who have been abused
    whether physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually
    that the Lord of all tenderness and compassion
    will restore them and give them peace.
  1. We pray that we become more and more a community
    that actively protects the most vulnerable people of society, particularly our children.
  1. We pray that the Spirit of Wisdom enlightens people
    to put an end to acts of violence and abuse.
  1. We pray for the healing professions
    who minister to those who suffer violence and abuse,
    that God will give them an abundance of wisdom, compassion and love.

Concluding Prayer
God our rock and our strength on whom we lean,
help us to create an atmosphere of trust
which allows the unspeakable to be said.
Help us to live with our painful memories.
May we support each other and be safe places for each other.
Through Christ, our Lord.

Samplaí den Urnaí Uilechoiteann
Cuireadh an tSagairt
Le humhail croí, guímis do Dia, maireann a ghrá agus dilseacht go buan.

  1. Guimís ar son gach duine gur baineadh mí-usáid asta bíodh sin go fisiciúil,
    go hintinneach, go maoithneach nó gréasach: go ndéanfadh an Tiarna atá lán de cineáltacht agus trua athneartú orthú an síocháin a thabhairt dóibh.
  1. Guimís go mbéimid ina phobal ata gríomhach ag tabhairt aire agus cosaint don
    cuid dár sochaí atá gan chosaint, ár bpáistí ach go háirithe.
  1. Guimís ar son spiorad na crionnachta; go dtabharfar leargas dintinn gach
    duine  agus go dtreoraí se dfhás in eolas agus diongbháilteacht le deireadh a chuir le gníomhartha dfhoreigean agus mí-úsáid
  1. Guimís ar son na gairme cneasú a thugann fóirithint dóibh súid atá ag
    fulaingt de thoradh ar fhoreigean nó mí-úsáid go dtabharfaidh Dia flúirse grá,
    trua agus críonnacht dóibh.

Urnaí an tSagairt
Dia ár gcarraig agus ár neart ar a gclaonaimid
cabhraigh linn atmaisféar de mhuinín a chruthú
ina gceadaitear an doluaite a lua.
Cabhraigh linn maireachtan lenár gcuimhní pianmhar
go dtugaimid tacaíocht dá chéile agus bheith mar áit slán da chéile.
Trí Chríost ár dTiarna.

The following Intercessions are adapted from the Kilmore Diocese Prayer 2017 for those abused by members of the Church:

Response: O Lord, hear our prayer (sung – Taize).
We turn to God in sorrow and humility, confessing our sins against God and God’s children, asking for mercy and forgiveness.

Let us pray for forgiveness for the crimes and sins of sexual, physical,
emotional and spiritual abuse perpetrated by clergy and servants of
the Church against children and young people (silent prayer):

God of compassion and love, we ask forgiveness for the failure to love,
respect, nurture and cherish young people, especially the most vulnerable. (R).

Let us pray for the survivors of abuse who have been psychologically
harmed and spiritually damaged by people claiming to be followers
of your Son (silent prayer):

God of compassion and love we pray for healing and peace for all those
who have been abused and whose suffering is ongoing. (R).

Let us pray for forgiveness for all those in authority in the Church
who failed to respond as good shepherds to those abused by priests
and religious (silent prayer):

God of compassion and love we ask your forgiveness for the deaf ears,
the blind eyes and the hard hearts of those in authority in your Church. (R).

Let us pray for the families and friends of those who have been abused
as we lament the sorrow they carry because of the injuries inflicted on
their loved ones (silent prayer):

God of compassion and love we ask you to heal the families and friends
of those who have been abused. May Mary, the mother of your son,
protect and comfort them. (R).

Let us pray for all in the Church, both laity and clergy, whose faith
has been shaken by the abuse scandals (silent prayer):

God of compassion and love heal the hearts of all those in our Church who
have been saddened and whose faith has been shaken by the abuse scandals. (R).

Let us pray that we may be a community that actively cares for and
protects children and vulnerable members of our society (silent prayer):

God of compassion and love help us to cherish, respect and protect the
young and the vulnerable at all times. (R).

New Testament
From the letter of St Paul to the Romans 8:26-27
When faced with great difficulty, we often can be at a total loss for words.
But the Spirit of God can express even our sighs to the heart of God.

The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness.
For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly,
the Spirit himself expresses our plea
in a way that could never be put into words,
and God who knows everything in our hearts
knows perfectly well what he means,
and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit
are according to the mind of God.
The word of the Lord.

From the first letter of St Peter 5: 5b, 7, 10b-11.
Wrap yourselves in humility to be servants of each other,
because God refuses the proud and will always favour the humble.
Unload all your worries on to him,
since he is looking after you.
The God of all grace
who called you to eternal glory in Christ
will see that all is well again:
he will confirm, strengthen and support you.
His power lasts forever and ever. Amen.
The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalms
From Psalm 33

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble will hear and be glad.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.

The Lord is close to the broken hearted

From Psalm 68 (69)
In your great love, answer me O God

I am wearied with all my crying,
my throat is parched.
My eyes are wasted away
from looking for my God.

In your great love, answer me O God

This is my prayer to you,
my prayer for your favour.
In your great love answer me, O God,
with your help that never fails.

In your great love, answer me O God

Lord, answer, for your love is kind;
in your compassion, turn towards me.
Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly for I am in distress.

In your great love, answer me O God

As for me in my poverty and pain,
let your help, O God, lift me up.
The poor when they see it will be glad
and God-seeking hearts will revive.

In your great love, answer me O God

From Psalm 26
The Lord is my light and my help 

The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink?

The Lord is my light and my help

For there he keeps me safe in his tent
in the day of evil.
He hides me in the shelter of his tent,
on a rock he sets me safe.

The Lord is my light and my help

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;
have mercy and answer.
Of you my heart has spoken:
‘Seek his face.’

The Lord is my light and my help

It is your face O Lord that I seek;
hide not your face.
Dismiss not your servant in anger;
you have been my help.

The Lord is my light and my help

Do not abandon or forsake me,
O God my help!
Though father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.

The Lord is my light and my help

Gospel Texts
From the Gospel according to Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus exclaimed:
‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened,
and I will give you rest.
Shoulder my yoke and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
The Gospel of the Lord.

From the Gospel according to Matthew 18:5-7a, 10
[Jesus said to his disciples:]
‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
But anyone who is an obstacle
to bring down one of these little ones who have faith in me
would be better drowned in the depths of the sea
with a great millstone round his neck.
Alas for the world that there should be such obstacles!’
‘See that you never despise any of these little ones,
for I tell you that their angels in heaven
are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
The Gospel of the Lord.

From the Gospel according to Mark 4:35-41
With the coming of evening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us cross
over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him,
just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then
it began to blow a gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so
that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the
cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not
care? We are going down!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and
said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped, and all
was calm again.
The Gospel of the Lord.

From the Gospel according to John 10:11-18
Jesus said:
‘I am the good shepherd:
the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.
The hired man, since he is not the shepherd
and the sheep do not belong to him,
abandons the sheep and runs away
as soon as he sees a wolf coming,
and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;
this is because he is only a hired man
and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd;
I know my own
and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me
and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for my sheep.’
The Gospel of the Lord.

From the Gospel according to John 14: 1
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still,
and trust in me.’
The Gospel of the Lord.

From the Gospel according to John 14: 27
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Peace I bequeath to you,
my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.’
The Gospel of the Lord.

Prayers and Reflections
God of endless love,
ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just:

You gave your only Son
to save us by the blood of his cross.

Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.

Hear our cries of distress
over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
soothe restless hearts with hope,
steady shaken spirits with faith:
Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.

Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
heal your peoples wounds
and transform our brokenness.
Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace
so that we may act with justice
and find peace in you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

From a prayer produced by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops

Praise to you, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
source of all consolation and hope.
By your Son’s dying and rising
he remains our light in every darkness,
our strength in every weakness.
Be the refuge and guardian
of all who suffer from abuse and violence.
Comfort them and send healing
for their wounds of body, soul and spirit.
Rescue them from bitterness and shame
and refresh them with your love.
Heal the brokenness in all victims of abuse
and revive the spirits of all who lament this sin.
Help us to follow Jesus
in drawing good from evil, life from death.
Make us one with you in your love for justice
as we deepen our respect
for the dignity of every human life.
Giver of peace, make us one in celebrating your praise,
both now and forever. Amen.
Bishop of St Cloud, USA

Prayer for the Healing of Memories by Liam Lawton
Lord, I cannot find the words that I should say,
nor will I ever know the pain nor know the deep despair
of souls who have been hurt for lack of love and care.
This is a prayer, a plea, that you would come
and gently heal the souls of all whose hearts still bleed.

Heal the silent scream of those who cry through nights and years.
The child who forever weeps and wakes in adult dreams.
Heal the pain that never seems to fade,
replace with love the guilt of endless shame.

Hear the voice that longs to tell its tale,
hear the words where integrity prevails,
hear the truth where honesty has failed.
Hear us now we call upon your name.

Heal all hidden memories in the deepest painful place,
suppressed through years of suffering.
From memories erase all thoughts of fear and failure
with tears that wash each face.

You Lord were stripped,
bruised and beaten, unprotected,
so vulnerable, derided, mocked, betrayed,
and in the tomb where you were laid,
we place the hurt, the hate, the wounds of history.

May we rise again through the power of your healing presence,
to live, to laugh, to love once more.
Send your spirit to move over all places of darkness.
For our destiny is to be people of the light,
waking from this night to find you
in an early dawn.

See Also
John O’ Donohue, For Broken Trust

Benedictus — A Book of Blessings (London: Bantam Press 2007) 178.

Alexian Brothers, Prayer to Christ the Healer http://www.poemsofconsolation.net/?page_id=1155


In the Gospel of Matthew, even before Jesus is born he is called: “Emmanuel – a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’” [Matt 1:23]

Jesus’ first work is to accompany us.
We hear this again the invitation to Jesus from the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus when “they pressed him to stay with them” [Luke 24:29]

We invite him to accompany us as we pray: Stay with us Lord

When peace is fragile  Stay with us, Lord
When tempers are raised    Stay with us, Lord
When atrocities occur  Stay with us, Lord
When forgiveness is rejected  Stay with us, Lord
When talks break down Stay with us, Lord
When agreements are broken      Stay with us, Lord
When darkness weighs upon us Stay with us, Lord
When we cannot see you    Stay with us, Lord
When burdens feel too heavy       Stay with us, Lord
When hope seems faint Stay with us, Lord
When we are weak  Stay with us, Lord
When faith seems difficult  Stay with us, Lord

We ask the Risen Lord to continue to walk with and protect those who are burdened
We pray: Walk with them, Lord

For all who have lost hope    Walk with them, Lord
For all who suffer    Walk with them, Lord
For all who are sick and in pain    Walk with them, Lord
For all who are struggling      Walk with them, Lord
For all who have been badly hurt in life Walk with them, Lord
For all who are grieving      Walk with them, Lord
For all who are depressed  Walk with them, Lord
For all who feel rejected Walk with them, Lord
For all who feel unloved Walk with them, Lord
For all who are oppressed  Walk with them, Lord
For all who are anxious        Walk with them, Lord

Hymns that are appropriate for a Prayer Service

Stand beside me    John Columba McCann OSB
Healer of my soul      John Michael Talbot
The Lord will heal the broken heart (God of life) Liam Lawton
The Cloud’s Veil    Liam Lawton
Heal us, Lord     Liam Lawton
Christ be near at either hand        Traditional
A Mhuire Mháthair      Tradisiúnta arr. Ian Callanan
Sé an Tiarna m’Aoire   Fintan O’Carroll
Calm me Lord         Margaret Rizza
Your Mercy Like Rain   Rory Cooney
Be still and know that I am God   anon.
Be still my soul      K. von Schlegel/Sibelius
My soul is longing for your peace  Lucien Deiss
Within our darkest night    Taizé
Lord Jesus Christ, your light shines within us Taizé
Create in me (Ps 51)    David Haas
You are mine David Haas
In God alone        David Haas
Keep me safe O God        John Foley

Towards Peace

Towards Peace is a service offering spiritual support to people who have experienced abuse, be it physical, emotional, sexual and /or spiritual abuse, which was perpetrated by Catholic Church personnel, individually or institutionally.  Funded by the Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference and the Association of Missionary and Religious in Ireland (formally CORI and IMU), the vision of Towards Peace is to provide a safe supportive space for people and their families, whose spiritual life has been damaged by abuse.  Through spiritual accompaniment with a qualified spiritual director, Towards Peace endeavours to accompany people as they seek their own experience of spiritual peace, one step at a time.  The service is free of charge.  Towards Peace is also a response to the continually growing understanding of the spiritual impact of the trauma of abuse and seeks to raise awareness about this within the Church.  It has collected a number of publications and online resources about the research in this area, which can be found here: https://towardspeace.ie/resources/.

“Towards Peace has given me the opportunity to address the impact that abuse by a Catholic priest has had on my life – particularly my vocation, faith and relationship with Jesus/God. I have felt heard, respected and understood as I work through the spiritual consequences of the abuse in my daily life. In working with a spiritual companion, I hope to come to a place of peace and acceptance in my spiritual life and faith journey and hopefully come to believe and feel that there is a loving God in my life as I have lost all sense of this over the years because of the abuse.”

– Towards Peace Client

For further information please contact the Towards Peace office:
Phone:  00353 (0)1 5053028
Email: towardspeace@iecon.ie
Website:  www.towardspeace.ie
Postal Address:  Columba Centre, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co Kildare.


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