March 23, 2017 (En Español) Catholic dioceses in California are offering special prayers and Masses in observation of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 2-8, 2017, an annual event established in 1981 to draw attention to the people and families whose lives have been affected by violent crime. In recognition of those impacted by crime, the Restorative Justice Committee of the California Catholic Conference has issued the following statement (jump to prayers and bulletin announcement): Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. – Pope Francis “The harm to persons by the intentional criminal acts of others can be long lasting. Crime victims, survivors, and their families need to know they are not alone. Local Church communities will walk with them providing support and prayers on the road to healing and restoration. “Healing is a process aimed at restoring a sense of physical safety, security and their sense of self. “That process is called ‘restorative justice’. It has two goals—to help victims and their families heal from the traumatic effects of violent crime and to break the cycle of crime by increasing public safety through helping offenders rehabilitate as well as reintegrate into their communities. “Many California dioceses have an Office of Restorative Justice formed to provide healing and support to all of those affected by crime and the criminal justice system’s response. “During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, California dioceses actively work to promote healing opportunities for individuals and communities. Some related activities include interfaith prayer services, candlelight vigils, and Masses for the intentions of crime victims and survivors. In addition, some dioceses are participating in local community-based events to promote awareness of victims’ rights, including related victim marches and conferences. “As Pope Francis reminds us ‘With the Cross, Jesus unites himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenseless; with the Cross, he is united to families in trouble, and those who mourn the tragic loss of their children.’” Prayer TO ALL PARISHES: Please consider using these prayer petitions in Masses during April 2 - 8, 2017 (Fifth Sunday of Lent and throughout the Fifth Week of Lent; Sunday Gospel – The Raising of Lazarus, John 11:1-45) Invitation to Prayer: Let us make our prayers to God who will fully supply whatever we need. Priest’s Introduction Brothers and sisters, as we now make our prayer for our community and for the world, let us all pray to Christ the Lord, not only for ourselves and our own needs, but for the entire people. Intentions 1. Lord, you raised Lazarus from death to life, we ask your blessing on Pope Francis, Bishop ___________, and all leaders of the Church that they may minister to all those who are harmed by crime so that they, too, may be restored to the fullness of life, . . . We pray to the Lord. [All: Lord, hear our prayer] 2. Lord, we pray for the leaders of our nation and all the nations of the world, that your Holy Spirit may inspire them to enact laws which deepen our respect for each person’s human dignity; lead to an end of violence and abuse; and foster the restoration of communities plagued by crime, . . . We pray to the Lord. [All: Lord, hear our prayer] 3. Lord, you wept at the tomb of your friend Lazarus, console all survivors of crime who have lost loved ones due to violence, . . . We pray to the Lord. [All: Lord, hear our prayer] 4. Lord we pray for the souls of all our beloved dead, especially those who have lost their lives as a result of violence, . . . We pray to the Lord. [All: Lord, hear our prayer] 5. Lord, we pray for our own community, especially those of us who have been harmed by crime; that they may experience your healing touch, so their lives may also be restored, . . . We pray to the Lord. [All: Lord, hear our prayer] Priest’s Prayer Lord we pray for Your mercy and compassion. We live in troubled times, and the answers to our problems are not simple or easy. Send Your Spirit upon us to strengthen our resolve to root out the violence, hate, and fear in our lives. Replace it with Your forbearance and love. We ask all this through Christ, our Lord. AMEN. Bulletin Announcement National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 2-8, 2017 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) was established in 1981 to inspire the community, raise awareness of victims’ rights, and address unmet needs. Sadly, the needs of many crime victims and survivors, including some who worship in our faith community, remain unaddressed and many feel abandoned by our Church. Americans are victims of more than 20 million crimes each year, and the resulting trauma has long-lasting impact on individuals, their families and communities. Unaddressed trauma resulting from the criminal actions of others may lead to depression, hopelessness, and despair. This year’s theme, “Strength. Resilience. Justice,” April 2-8, 2017, provides us with an opportunity to reach out to crime victims and survivors with a willingness to minister to their needs. For more information, contact your local Diocesan Restorative Justice Director at (add local diocesan contact information) or visit the California Catholic Conference website at www.cacatholic.org or www.restorejustice.com (Members of the Committee are the Most Rev. Richard Garcia, Bishop of Monterey, the Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, Bishop of Fresno, Most Reverend David O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, and the Most Reverend Myron Cotta, Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento) More on Restorative Justice here.