Addressing hard topics is key to fruitful diocesan and parish ministry.
After the Gospel reading, I sat down in my pew and asked the Holy Spirit to open me up to what the priest was about to preach. He prayed a vulnerable prayer before he started his homily, asking God that if he said anything against Love, let the people in the pews not remember the words he would speak. As the priest spoke about the themes of the readings, he gently transitioned to talking about the role of a mother. He explained that not only does mom give warm gooey cookies because she loves us, but she also disciplines out of that same love! That is the same for Mother Church he explained.
The Church provides rules, and not just any rules—the rules of Jesus, the commandments. The Church isn’t off to the left while Jesus is off to the right. No, Jesus and the Church are a team! The priest then began to identify topics that the Church has rules on, but not in an authoritative, scary way. He was tender, eloquent, and loving. The priest spoke honestly, compassionately, and boldly. I was all ears! He had my attention, and I was grateful that he was standing for something and that that something was the true teachings of the Church.
No one wants half-truths or watered-down information. How insulting that it is when it happens. We have all heard it said that if you don’t stand for something, you don’t stand for anything. There’s strength in standing for something. The strength is attractive. I felt it as I took in the homily. If the priest had physically been signing people up for something, I would have jumped in line!
Revitalize Diocesan and Parish Ministry by Speaking the Truth
This is the role of the Church and our shepherds—to stand for something, or more importantly Someone (God and his designs), in our confusing and difficult world. All of us need this instruction and guidance. In fact, it’s an act of mercy to instruct the ignorant. Many of these rules and teachings we have never heard before! And just as children can see a fake a mile away, the people in the pews know authenticity when they hear and see it. Authenticity and trust come when our leaders put themselves out there on hard and sometimes even embarrassing topics.
If you are looking for ways to revitalize your arch/diocesan and parish communities, I would suggest beginning by being honest about what the Church teaches and speaking about the difficult everyday life issues our people are burdened by. One of these issues is pornography. Even though pornography is a major contributing factor to 56% of divorces today, how often are we hearing it talked about at Mass or other church settings? I presume you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve heard it spoken of from the pulpit.
But there’s good news! Covenant Eyes wants to help make sure your community is speaking about this issue. We want just as much as you do to see your community revitalized! We believe that by speaking about the issue of pornography and God’s designs for sex and marriage, you will build trust and take steps to enliven your faith community.
And you will be in good company! We have already been working with Catholic communities to implement the Covenant Eyes anti-pornography initiative, Safe Haven Sunday, which makes it possible to speak the truth about porn. To date, our Church Team has been working with over forty arch/dioceses to implement Safe Haven Sunday, reaching 6.5 million Catholics.
What is Safe Haven Sunday?
Safe Haven Sunday is a weekend set aside by dioceses and parishes to directly address the harms of pornography. Within the context of the Mass, dioceses, and parishes can provide teaching and resources that will support individuals, marriages, and families in making all homes a safe haven. It is inspired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ formal statement Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography, in which they explain, “The use of pornography by anyone in the home deprives the home of its role as a safe haven and has negative effects throughout a family’s life and across generations.”
Arch/Diocesan Leaders Are Fundamental to Safe Haven Sunday
Millions have been reached through Safe Haven Sunday because of the courageous leadership of arch/diocesan directors and coordinators. Here are several of these directors/coordinators’ endorsements:
“The Office of Family Life of the Archdiocese of New York chose Safe Haven Sunday as one of its major initiatives for the first time this year. For those who made use of the resources, it proved to be a wonderful opportunity for the families of the Archdiocese to grow and prosper. We look forward to continuing the conversation regarding making our homes safe places where God’s love lives.” -Theodore J. Musco, Director of the Office of Family Life for the Archdiocese of New York
“Safe Haven Sunday provides our parishes with a simple easy-to-use framework to support parents in keeping their children safe from pornography. I strongly recommend it for every parish and diocese.” -Edward Herrera, Executive Director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore
“Addressing the pornography problem in our society is a daunting task. Covenant Eyes and Safe Haven Sunday provide an easy, approachable way to bring awareness and resources to parishes and families. Their team accompanies you throughout the process and goes above and beyond to make it a success. This initiative is critical for all Dioceses to celebrate. Pornography is addictive, and it is in the hands of adults and children alike. We, as a Church, must push back and stand up for the dignity of the human person and for our families.” -Brooke Warren, Marriage Formation Specialist for the Diocese of Columbus
“Working with Covenant Eyes to implement the Safe Haven Sunday initiative in our parishes and schools has helped us communicate to our families that there are concrete ways for them to act in response to the issue of technology use and pornography exposure. We have completed 3 years and plan to continue using it to bring awareness to the dangers and solutions to this crisis effecting every home today.” -Dino Durando, Director of the Office of the Domestic Church and Discipleship for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
“Safe Haven Sunday has provided the Diocese of Charleston with a way to bring not only awareness of the harm of pornography and how it hurts families but also provides a way to prevent exposure to children and gives hope to overcome addiction. The resources are useful and well done. We are so grateful for Covenant Eyes who have led the fight against pornography use.” -Kathy Schmugge, Senior Director of Office of Social Ministry, Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Charleston
“Safe Haven Sunday has been a tangible and effective way for the Church to confront head on the menace of pornography in our diocese over the past several years. We are grateful for our partnership with Covenant Eyes in this initiative and for all the tremendous work that they do to make this effort both powerful and easy to implement.” -Brad Gray, Director of Marriage and Family Life, Diocese of Fargo
Will you be an arch/diocesan director who leads on the issue of pornography?
Covenant Eyes is working with new arch/dioceses daily to bring Safe Haven Sunday to the people in their pews. We are looking forward to onboarding new arch/dioceses throughout the summer and the fall in anticipation of a strong and fruitful celebration in 2024. See what the directors in two of our new dioceses who will be implementing Safe Haven Sunday are saying:
“In the fight against pornography, filtering software just isn’t enough. We need to build cultures of respect and dignity. We also need to build cultures where people feel safe enough to seek help when needed. As a diocese, we are moving toward an annual celebration of Safe Haven Sunday to build those cultures and provide the necessary support to families and individuals in their role of making this vision a reality.” -Richard Budd, Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Lansing
“The Diocese of Owensboro (KY) was just getting our anti-pornography initiative off the ground when COVID hit and shut our parishes down. Since then, we haven’t taken the opportunity to spark more life into it. But after talking with Covenant Eyes, we now have a plan to invite all our parishes to participate in “Safe Haven Sunday” this October to put a diocese-wide focus on bringing this issue front-of-mind for our parishes and parents again. Amanda Zurface, JCL, the Catholic Church Outreach Specialist for Covenant Eyes, helped me devise a strategy to provide follow-up information, webinars for parents, and resources through our Catholic Schools during the week following our Safe Haven Sunday as well. I have updated our Diocesan staff and work team on those initial plans, and we are moving forward toward a promotional timeline for Safe Haven Sunday in October.” -Danny May, Director of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Owensboro
There are Diocesan and Parish Implementation Guides to help guide the process.
Covenant Eyes created specific resources to help diocesan and parish leaders support individuals, marriages, and families in overcoming pornography and making their homes a safe haven. These resources include implementation guides for diocesan and parish leaders and have all the assets to implement the weekend including draft letters, bulletin inserts, homily samples, general intercessions, educational resources to distribute at the end of Mass, and so much more. Download the Diocesan and Parish Implementation Guides here.
This initiative can be implemented any weekend of the year. It’s what works best for the diocese. If the diocese selects a date, the parish is then asked to implement it on that same date. If a diocese is not hosting Safe Haven Sunday, but a parish would like to celebrate Safe Haven Sunday, they can choose their own date and follow the step-by-step instructions provided in the Parish Implementation Guides.
To schedule a consultation about Safe Haven Sunday, please book a meeting today!