Week of February 9, 2020

Safe Haven Sunday 2020 message

This weekend we are celebrating Safe Haven Sunday throughout our diocese.  This is the second year that I am addressing all the faithful of our diocese in this way.  My goal is to raise awareness about the issue of pornography and how parents can help their children navigate the use of mobile devices, computers and social media.  This effort was inspired by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement Create in Me a Clean Heart:  A Pastoral Response to Pornography.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.”

Parents you have a gift for your children.  You can help shine the light of the Gospel, into their use of computers and mobile devices. Today, adults and children often have anonymous access to content that is not only graphic, but frequently violent and perverse.  Many forms of social media were designed to give predators and other bad actors access to users. When parents bring light, truth, and mercy to their children they can find a way forward to mature and safe use of technology.  As your bishop I want to see you well equipped for this daunting task.

Our Diocesan Vision, One Family: Restored in Christ – Equipped for Mission calls us all to be equipped for our mission to make disciples. As part of your equipping,    I invite you to use a free seven-day text-to-join program, available in English and Spanish, that provides practical guidance to create safer digital environments.  We have partnered with Covenant Eyes to provide this free educational program and a free month of access to their monitoring and blocking software. You will find the sign-up information on the booklet titled Confident.  If you have a smartphone, I give you permission…no, I ask you, right here in church, to send the sign-up text…right now. You simply text “SAFEKIDS” to 66866.

I invite you to consider using monitoring and blocking software like Covenant Eyes, Bark, and other similar options. Learn the facts about the dangers, pray, and make a plan for the sake of your children and their future.

Our children are precious gifts from God, thank you all you do to keep them safe.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.

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