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Archives Safe Environment: Working to protect children

July 18, 2018

By Darcy Fargo
EditorJohn Morrison

OGDENSBURG – There’s a new face in the diocesan offices, and he’ll be working with parishes and schools around the diocese to ensure systems in place to protect children are being properly maintained.

John Morrison of Ogdensburg is the new director of Safe Environment Office and charter compliance coordinator. He officially joined the diocesan staff on June 25.

“It’s really two different jobs, but they’re related,” Morrison said.

Morrison said the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002. The charter, which was revised in 2005, 2011 and 2018, includes compliance tasks related to its various articles.

“The charter covers how we communicate reporting procedures and how to follow up, including pastoral care and victims’ assistance,” Morrison said.

The Safe Environment portion of the position includes ensuring procedures are followed for checking the backgrounds of clergy, religious, staff and volunteers, as well as the abuse prevention/recognition training given to such individuals, known as Virtus training.

“It’s all pretty intertwined, but there are different requirements – documentation for example – for each,” Morrison said.

Morrison will work with parishes and schools around the diocese to ensure all policies related to Safe Environment and the charter have been properly implemented and all documentation is completed appropriately.
“I’m confident everyone is trying do to everything in their power to protect children,” Morrison said. “I see my role as largely educational. I want to make sure everyone knows what the requirements are and the importance of them. All the paperwork and filings have a purpose. I know the paperwork can sometimes seem burdensome, but I want to make it as easy as possible for everyone.”

Morrison will be conducting audits at parishes and schools around the diocese to review existing documentation and procedures and make any required recommendations for improvement.

“When people hear the term ‘audit,’ they don’t always view it as a positive,” he said. “But this isn’t a process that should cause concern. My goal is to help strengthen programs. Good things come out of these audits. In these audits, we’re all on the same team. We’re all working toward the same goal – protecting children.”
Morrison noted that the Diocese of Ogdensburg has consistently been found to be in compliance with required standards.

“We want to make sure we’re not only in compliance, but using best practices and continually improving,” he said.

Morrison and his wife, Martha, attend Notre Dame Church, where he serves as a lector and volunteer. The couple has three adult children.

Prior to joining the diocesan staff, Morrison served in various roles at Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, St. Lawrence NYSARC and United Helpers.

“I’m very happy to be here,” he said. “Ogdensburg is home to me. I feel like this is a great place to work out the remainder of my working years.”


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