Responsible Ministry

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St Philip and St Clare Responsible Ministry & Volunteer Screening Program
What is screening?
Why screen?
The three primary goals of responsible ministry
Ten steps of screening

St Philip and St Clare Responsible Ministry & Volunteer Screening Program (return to top)

There are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord.
Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are all called to share our gifts with one another and with the world. Given the importance of this call from God, it is essential that we, as a community, do all we can to assure that the right gifts are shared in the right way, at the right time, by the right people. We fulfill our mission more effectively when we make every effort to ensure a richer, stronger, more vibrant and safer community of faith.

What is screening? (return to top)

Screening is simply a process designed to create and maintain a safe environment.
The process is used by organizations to evaluate volunteers and to identify any activity, which by virtue of the position could put children, youth, or other vulnerable persons at risk.
A vulnerable person is one who has difficulty protecting her or himself from harm temporarily or permanently and is at risk because of age, disability, handicap, or emotional distress due to extreme crisis or trauma.
The screening process also ensures the most appropriate match is made between the person wishing to volunteer and the ministry position. This is also known as volunteer management.

Why screen? (return to top)

We screen to protect our program participants, our staff, and our volunteers. We also want to ensure that the appropriate people are assigned to the correct ministries.
Every organization has a responsibility to appropriately screen its staff and volunteers. It is not only the right thing to do but it is a legal requirement.

The three primary goals of responsible ministry (return to top)

1. To safeguard, in all respects, all of those to whom we minister.
2. To support parish volunteers and preserve their safety, integrity and reputation.
3. To ensure that we fulfill our duty and obligation as a faith community.

Ten steps of screening (return to top)

Screening begins before any person offers themselves for volunteering and ends only after the person leaves the ministry position:

    • Before selecting volunteers

1. Sensitivity (risk) determination
2. Ministry role descriptions
3. Recruitment process

    • The selection process

4. Volunteer information form
5. References check †
6. Interviews ‡
7. Police record check ‡

    • Managing the volunteers

8. Orientation and training
9. Supervision
10. Feedback

† medium and high sensitivity roles only
‡ high sensitivity roles only

Documents (return to top)

A summary of our parish’s responsibility program is described in this pamphlet.

A detailed description of our parish responsible ministry program is contained in the program document.

There are additional guidelines for those individuals who volunteer in medium or high sensitivity ministries.

Adult individuals who wish to participate in a parish ministry must complete a application form.

Youth volunteers must complete a youth-specific application form.

Volunteers who wish to participate in another ministry and who have already been screened in another ministry either at the same or higher level of sensitivity must complete this form.

The process used to screen parish volunteers who wish to participate in parish ministries is described in the screening guide.

Volunteers who are required to have a police records check completed as part of their screening process must complete this form.

Volunteers who have an offence to declare must complete this form.

All parish volunteers must sign a covenant before they assume their duties of their chosen ministry.

Ministry directors who need to amend or develop a new ministry descriptor can use the following template (in word format) and submit it to the Parish office.

There are role descriptors for our parish volunteer ministries:

Low sensitivity volunteer roles Medium sensitivity volunteer roles High sensitivity volunteer roles

Questions? (return to top)

Please contact the director of the relevant ministry, or the parish office.

Some typical questions were discussed during our training sessions, and generated the following responses.

1) Why do we have to have this responsible ministry process in our church?

This due diligence process is based on principles of public accountability. Christ-centered, it was established by the Church for the purpose of creating a secure environment in the parishes for both the volunteers and those they serve. Responsible ministry seeks to preserve the safety, security, integrity and reputation of all parties by matching the required skills and obligations of the ministry with the talents and skills of the individuals who serve in that ministry. This process allows for communication of safeguards as well as responsible practices and situations, and delineates established expectations of responsible volunteers which are consistent across ministries.

2) What is screening? Why screen?

Screening is a process intended to create a safe environment and establish and maintain trust. It is a selection and monitoring process for volunteers involved in public ministries or activities. The extent of the screening which consists of background information depends on the sensitivity level of the ministries or activities. Through screening, the safety and security of both volunteers and vulnerable parties are enhanced. It provides a venue to assign a volunteer to a church ministry based on talents, interests, qualifications and gifts.

3) Why do I have to undergo screening when I have been volunteering for years without incident?

Time and environments change rapidly. It behooves the Church to protect its community and in today’s society, this must be done through a due diligence process. We are in an age of accountability and therefore every responsible volunteer should welcome the opportunity to be part of a process that attempts to safeguard the well-being of everyone involved in ministry or activities that require screening through the provision of a more secure environment for the community. Screening of volunteers is also becoming an issue with insurance companies.

4) What is signing forms going to change?

It makes the person signing responsible. One’s signature renders the commitment and understanding of responsibilities more official. It provides an official record for the parish and assures parishioners that things are being handled appropriately relative to screening within responsible ministry.

5) I can’t believe I’m being asked to fill out forms and get a police check! Really? Why?

It behooves the parish community to implement the due diligence process of responsible ministry mandated by the diocese to safeguard the integrity, safety and security of volunteers and participants alike relative to the handling of funds or working with vulnerable people. It is not a question of trust but rather one of credibility and transparency. Only high risk sensitivity volunteer roles require a police check, at no cost to the volunteer. Confidentiality is assured to all concerned.

Acknowledgements (return to top)

The Archdiocese of Ottawa’s Responsible Ministry program is the basis for our parish program. Our documents include text gratefully adapted from the programs of other dioceses, including Calgary, Kingston, Peterborough and Toronto.