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Catholic Conference of Illinois Executive Director Robert Gilligan today testified before an Illinois House panel charged with finding solutions to teen violence, noting innovative methods being used by Catholic schools and parishes.
Gilligan told the bipartisan panel of lawmakers on the Violence Prevention Task Force that a school in the Peoria diocese recently implemented an anti-bullying program that trains students to recognize bullying among their peers. Read more about that program here.
He also noted that St. Agatha's parish in Chicago was using "peace hubs" for conflict resolution for such offenses as petty thefts, instead of turning to the juvenile justice system.
"It's the principle of restorative justice," Gilligan said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, called for the formation of the task force in January, citing recent findings in a new report on the December 2012 shootings at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. Connecticut's Office of the Child Advocate in its report noted "weaknesses and lapses in the educational and healthcare systems’ response and untreated mental illness" played a role in the continued mental deterioration of the gunman, Adam Lanza. Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 people and then himself.
The task force also heard testimony from child welfare advocacy groups, social service agencies, education officials, mental heath experts, law enforcement, and other religious groups.
Students from across the state in the fall of 2014 completed a 15-month prison ministry leadership program developed by the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Lewis University in Romeoville. Fr. Chris Reuter, O.F.M., of the Belleville diocese celebrated a commissioning Mass for the students at Sancta Alberta Chapel on the Lewis campus in November 2014. The students will now coordinate other prison and jail ministry volunteers in their respective dioceses.
Archbishop-designate Blase Cupich held a press conference on Sept. 22, 2014, two days after he was named the successor to Cardinal George. He had been attending a seminar sponsored by Catholic Extension. He shares his thoughts on the Church's mission.
When unaccompanied minors come to the United States, Catholic Charities and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services Office step up to the plate to care for and place the children. This short, 5-minute video tells the story of two young men — one from El Salvador, and the other from Sudan — who are now living successfully in the United States.