By Tim Harfmann
Father Jeffry Dillon is planning on expressing a message of solidarity to abuse survivors during his homily; “There’s an opportunity for healing, specifically, in their lives.” The Mass of Hope and Healing is an annual liturgy offered for everyone impacted by sexual abuse. The Mass is planned by the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Survivors Advisory Committee — which includes survivors, family, friends and other associated victims, plus professionals in abuse protection.
The committee asked Father Dillon to be the homilist because he, too, is a survivor. “I have a unique perspective, being a victim myself, to identify with them, but also speak to them and challenge them to recognize that there is hope beyond the devastation and the brokenness that they’ve experienced in life,” said Father Dillon.
The Queens priest endured abuse at the hands of a priest in the late 1950s and early 1960s, while he was an elementary school student. Father Dillon said the Church must face the reality that the crisis is part of its history; “It’s not something that we have to deny, nor something that we have to cover up, nor something that we have to forget; but it is something that we can utilize in healing others because we can bring our own brokenness to the situations that we encounter on the journey of life.”
From the readings to the music, every part of the Mass is chosen by survivors. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio will be the main celebrant and said this fifth-annual Mass of Hope and Healing is another step in addressing the crisis; “Unfortunately, it’s a phenomenon as part of our society today that’s a very difficult one. It’s been there for a while, but I think now we acknowledge it; and we do need to pray for healing and hope for these people.”
Though it is something they cope with in their lives, Father Dillon said victims of abuse are not alone; “With the help of God’s spirit working in people’s lives, they can overcome.”
For the first time at the Mass of Hope and Healing, the Diocesan Survivors Advisory Committee will light the Easter Candle and pray for the victims of abuse who died this past year.