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In September 2015 the Congregation of La Retraite invited the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) to conduct a review of the Order’s child safeguarding policy and practice.  Today we publish the findings of the NBSCCCI’s report.  We welcome the report and accept it in full.  We are committed to safeguarding children and to working with the NBSCCCI to further improve our practice.

We recognise that a lot of children have suffered as a consequence of abuse by priests and religious. We are truly sorry that abuse happened and acknowledge the serious harm that was caused to children.  Today we pray for all survivors of abuse and pray that we have learned the lessons of the Church’s past.

If you would like to receive help for abuse suffered in the Catholic Church please contact:

TOWARDS HEALING: Counselling Support Service.

Free Phone Ireland: 1800 303416;

Free Phone UK: 0800 0963315;


Monday – Thursday 11am – 8pm; Friday – 11 am – 6 pm

TOWARDS PEACE: Spiritual Support Service.

Tel: 00 353 (0) 1 5053028; Mobile: 086 771 0533;



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Review of Child Safeguarding Practice in the religious congregation of

La Retraite Sisters undertaken by The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the

Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI)

December 2015

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Background 3

Introduction 4

Role Profile 4

Profile of Members 5

Policy and Procedures Document 5

Structures 6

Management of Allegations 6

Conclusion 6

Terms of Reference 7

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The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) was asked by the Sponsoring Bodies, namely the Irish Episcopal Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union, to undertake a comprehensive review of safeguarding practice within and across all the Church authorities on the island of Ireland.

The NBSCCCI is aware that some religious congregations have ministries that involve direct contact with children while others do not. In religious congregations that have direct involvement with children, reviews of child safeguarding have been undertaken by measuring their practice compliance against all seven Church standards. Where a religious congregation no longer has, or never had ministry involving children and has not received any allegation of sexual abuse, the NBSCCCI reviews are conducted using a shorter procedure. The size, age and activity profiles of religious congregations can vary significantly and the NBSCCCI accepts that it is rational that the form of review be tailored to the profile of each Church authority, where the ministry with children is limited or non-existent. The procedure for assessment of safeguarding practice with such congregations is set out in the contents page of this report. The NBSCCCI welcomes that in order to have full openness, transparency and accountability, religious congregations that do not have ministry with children have made requests to have their safeguarding practice examined and commented upon.

The purpose of this review remains the same and it is to confirm that current safeguarding practice complies with the standards set down within the guidance issued by the Sponsoring Bodies in February 2009 Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland and that all known allegations and concerns had been appropriately dealt with. To achieve this task, safeguarding practice in each of these Church Authorities is reviewed through an examination of policy and procedures, and through interviews with key personnel involved both within and external to the Religious Congregation.

This report contains the findings of the Review of Safeguarding Practice within the religious congregation of La Retraite Sisters undertaken by the NBSCCCI in line with the request made to it by the Sponsoring Bodies.

The findings of the review have been shared with a reference group before being submitted to Sr Barbara Stafford, La Retraite Area Leader, along with any recommendations arising from the findings. The review is not based on a review of case material as during the relevant time period there were no allegations made against members of the congregation that were within the Terms of Reference. There also were no allegations in respect of other forms of abuse within the time period, in respect of deceased and living members of the congregation. The review therefore is primarily based on policies and procedures made available plus interviews with key personnel involved in the safeguarding process within the congregation, particularly in the services run by the congregation.

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1. Introduction

The history of the Congregation of La Retraite Sisters can be traced to 17 th century Brittany in France. At the time missionary priests, mostly Jesuits opened a retreat house for men in Vannes. Catherine de Francheville had helped the priests during the missions and in establishing the first retreats for men. She was keen to offer the same spiritual exercises for women but this proved difficult as at the time it was not considered appropriate for large groups of women to gather without men present. Eventually in 1675 retreats for women were established and the work of Catherine and other women was recognized by both the church and civil authorities.

The name “La Retraite” signifies that the Sisters recognise the importance of every person standing back from the concerns of everyday life in order to seek inner stillness and to listen, to discover the meaning of what one is living, to recognize the forces of life and death in and around oneself, and to make choices in freedom.

2. Role Profile (past and present role with children):

In 1924 the Sisters were invited by Bishop Daniel Coholan to open a hostel for young women attending the University of Cork. During the academic year the hostel housed women students from seventeen years of age and in the summer holidays it became a place for retreats. This ministry lasted until 1992. The Congregation also had a small presence in the Sacred Heart parish and Bishoptown areas of Cork. Their work at this time was with adults supporting the local parish communities.

Between 1987 and 1989 a small number of Sisters founded a community in the Ballyboden area of Dublin. The Sisters were active in providing spiritual accompaniment, prayer groups and retreats with adults. The Sisters in this community later moved to Rathgar and most recently to residential nursing care.

In 2005 two Sisters returned to Ireland from ministry in England and established a community in Rathmines, Dublin. One Sister gave a Pilates course for returning missionaries, taught English as a foreign language and gave support to the Catholic Chinese community in Dublin. The second Sister worked with students in Chaplaincy in DCU.

A community in Galway was established in 1987. The Sisters contributed to life in the Cathedral parish, the Pastoral Centre and offered spiritual accompaniment and retreat possibilities in a small “poustinia”attached to the community house. One Sister was also part of a pastoral school retreat team between 2001 and 2010. This team included teachers and Lay members and they were invited by the schools to work with the pupils. This Sister adhered to the Diocesan policy while in this role and was garda vetted. Another Sister worked as a chaplain in UCG from 2001-2007.

A further member of the Congregation worked in Belfast in the ministry of reconciliation between 1995 and 2002.

The current apostolic role of the Congregation of La Retriate in Ireland is as follows:

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 Two sisters have central leadership responsibilities

 One sister is Assistant Director in Manresa, the Jesuit run Centre for Spirituality

 One sister is Co-coordinator of the Jesuit run Centre for Spirituality and Culture and serves on the Bishop’s committee for refugees

 One sister offers spiritual accompaniment in “The Haven” in Cork and serves on several committees promoting interdenominational collaboration in the Christian faith.

 One sister works in COPE and offers support and accompaniment to migrants and refugees.

 One sister is retired and living in a residential care home.

 One sister is missioned to care for her seriously ill mother.

All sisters work with adults. If there is direct contact with children it is in the context of a parish, agency, or community group in which case the Congregation adheres to the Diocesan Safeguarding policy and procedures.

3. Profile of Members:

There are currently eight Sisters of the Congregation of La Retriate in Ireland, based in three communities: Cork, Dublin, and Galway. One Sister lives in a residential care home, one Sister lives in sheltered accommodation, one Sister lives in an apartment and five Sisters live in two community houses. The age range of the Sisters is as follows:

 40 – 50 years - 2 sisters

 51 – 60 years - 1 sister

 61 – 70 years - 3 sisters

 71 – 80 years - 1 sister

 81 – 90 years – 1 sister

4. Policy and Procedures Document:

The Sisters of La Retraite have a comprehensive policy document dated April 2008 and titled, Policy for the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults Sisters of La Retriate in Britain and Ireland. This document was written with reference to the statutory child protection guidance and agencies in both Ireland and Britain. The Congregation has updated this policy as an interim measure in 2015. The Congregation is awaiting the change in the NBSCCCI Safeguarding Policy in Ireland to be implemented in 2016 and is preparing for a “stand alone” policy which will conform to the Safeguarding policy within the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Congregation has produced a training needs document dated October 2015 which outlines the safeguarding training completed by the eight Sisters in Ireland. This details that

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all Sisters have completed safeguarding training with the NBSCCCI and further training needs have been identified and actioned.

Safeguarding is a periodic item on the agenda of the Congregation’s Trustees. The Sisters have an annual formal assembly which creates an opportunity for all the Sisters to be briefed on Safeguarding.

5. Structures:

The Congregation of la Retriate has a central team made up of five members who have responsibility for the Sisters in Belgium, Holland, France, UK, Ireland and Cameroon. The team members have individual responsibilities but also work in duos with the close collaboration of the Superior General.

Sister Barbara Stafford has responsibility for the Sister in Ireland and the UK. To assist her in all matters relating to Child safeguarding she has appointed a Designated Liaison Person who also acts as the Peron for pastoral support. The DLP is a safeguarding trainer for the Galway Diocese and completes annual training requirements.

6. Management of Allegations and liaison with the statutory authorities:

There have not been any allegations of abuse against any member of the Congregation of La Retraite in Ireland, and as such there has been no contact in relation to these matters between the Congregation and the civil authorities, An Garda Siochana or TUSLA.

According to TUSLA, the Congregation has fully engaged with the Child and Family Agency’s Ferns Audit and has been catagorised as a Category three meaning there have been no child sexual abuse allegations against members and whose ministry does not involve children in Ireland

7. Conclusion:

The Congregation has a very limited past role and no current role with children in Ireland and does not have any allegations of abuse. Consequently there was no case management material examined during the course of this review.

Given the ministry profile of the Congregation and their limited number in Ireland it is clear that there has been very significant thought and commitment afforded to child safeguarding. The Reviewer commends the Congregation’s progressive approach and concludes that there are no concerns in relation to the child safeguarding practices of the La Retraite Sisters.

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Review of Safeguarding in the Catholic Church in Ireland

Terms of Reference (which should be read in conjunction with the accompanying Notes)

Small Religious Congregations


In order for the National Board to be able to state that all Church Authorities on the island of Ireland have been evaluated in respect of their child safeguarding policies and practices, both historical and current, then some form of appropriate assessment has to be conducted of every one of these. It is rational however that the form of assessment is tailored to the profile of each Church Authority, and that needless expenditure of resources and unnecessary interference in the life of religious orders and communities that have no children-specific ministry would be avoided.

This Review seeks to examine the current arrangements for safeguarding children across small Religious Congregations /Orders, and Missionary Societies in Ireland who have limited or no direct contact with children as part of the Congregations ministry.

It would also scrutinize practice within all known cases to ensure that they have been responded to appropriately.

The review’s methodology is an adaptation of the methodology developed for all Dioceses and large religious congregations and missionary societies, where the ministry involves regular contact with children.

The proposed Review would consider the following:-

(a) Former role with children

(b) Allegations of child abuse against members and how these have been responded to

(c) Existing relationships with statutory authorities such as the HSE, Gardai in the Republic and the HSCT or PSNI in Northern Ireland.

(d) Policies in place and being applied for safeguarding children

(e) Roles and responsibilities and where they exist the operation of Advisory Panels, and Safeguarding Committees

The objective of the Review would be to confirm if there have been any allegations and how known allegations have been responded to; in addition the review seeks to confirm what the current arrangements for safeguarding children are. In particular, emphasis will be placed on establishing how policies and practice matches up to the standards set down in the Safeguarding Children Guidance published by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church launched in February 2009. Priority, at all times, will be given to how policy and practice can be improved and strengthened. If policies and/or practices are identified that are concerning, inadequate, or dangerous, they will be addressed through the provision of guidance and support, and through the reporting of these situations to the appropriate statutory authorities, if this has not already happened. Similarly, those that are good examples will be highlighted with a view to them being adopted comprehensively across all parts of the Church. All cases that relate to alleged or known offenders that are alive will be read and included in the Review. In cases where the alleged or known offender

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is deceased, these will be sampled in an attempt to gather learning from them that will be used to inform the framing of recommendations.

Guidance Documents

The Review will be guided by the following:-

(a) Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance;

(b) Children First Guidance in ROI; and Regional Child Protection Guidelines in Northern Ireland;

(c) Legislation that exists in each jurisdiction which contributes to safeguarding children and young people.

The Review will be undertaken by the National Board for Safeguarding Children through their National Office and led by the Chief Executive Officer.

The Review process will be overseen by a Reference Group to whom the CEO will report on a regular basis. The membership of this Reference Group has been drawn from each of the statutory child protection agencies in both jurisdictions, along with eminent individuals in the field from academia. The current Reference Group consists of : Dr Helen Buckley (TCD); Mr Paul Harrison (Tusla), and John Toner (SBNI).

It is important to confirm that the value of the Review is dependent upon full and complete access to all relevant documentation and information relating to the abuse of children known to the individual Church authorities. The Review will proceed on the basis that willingness exists on the part of each of the subjects of the Review to provide full access to the fieldwork team, subject, where relevant, to the terms of the Data Processing Deed agreed between the Sponsoring Bodies and entered into between the parties hereto.

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Step Guide to the Review Process

Step 1.

A letter of invitation to review is sent by the Provincial/Regional Superior or other person responsible for the Congregation/ Order or Missionary Society (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Ordinary’).

Step 2.

The CEO will forward a survey to the provincial which will identify:

§ Current number of members

§ Past role with children

§ Current role with children

§ Total number of allegations received up to 2014

§ Number of living members against whom there are allegations

Step 3.

For any Order where there have been allegations a full review will proceed, as per step 4 - 23. For those Orders where there have been no known allegations a desk top examination of policies and procedures will take place followed by a site visit to interview all relevant personnel within the safeguarding structure. For these orders step 5 and 13-23 will apply.

Step 4 .

The CEO and Ordinary will confirm the dates for the fieldwork for the Review, and names of the fieldwork team.

Step 5.

The Church Authority will be asked to make available all of the case files and related documentation in respect of any safeguarding concerns that have been identified within the diocese. The Church Authority will make available a room with wireless internet access for the reviewers to conduct their review of files, so that any records made by the reviewers can be directly typed and stored onto a secure server which is only accessed by the reviewers. In the absence of internet access the reviewers will type their notes onto a secure encrypted usb stick for later uploading onto the secure server.

Step 6 .

The Church Authority will be requested to sign the revised Data Processing Deed prior to the arrival of the team.

Step 7.

The Church Authority will arrange a schedule of interviews with all who hold safeguarding roles within its functional area. The designated person and the Church Authority will be available to the reviewers throughout the period of fieldwork.

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Step 8.

The fieldwork team when they arrive on site will firstly confirm that they have a suitable place to work in and that all the required documentation has been provided to them for their Review. In the event that the fieldwork team forms the opinion that the Church Authority has not provided access to all such documents, the Board shall give notice in writing to the Church Authority of the opinion of the fieldwork team and such notice shall specify the reasons for same. Thereupon, the Church Authority shall respond in detail to the Notice. Each party shall use its best endeavours to resolve any differences of opinion which shall arise and, in the event that resolution is not arrived at, the parties will attempt to resolve the dispute by recourse to the services of a mediator agreed between them or nominated for the purpose at the request of any of them without prejudice to the Board’s entitlement to terminate the Review. In the event that resolution has not been arrived at following mediation, either party shall be at liberty to terminate forthwith the Review.

Step 9.

On arrival, the fieldwork team should be supplied with a single case file index that lists all the cases that have been created within the diocese. These may be divided into two groups. The first group will contain all allegations that relate to living alleged or known perpetrators. The second will contain any that are deceased.

Step 10.

Depending on the volume involved a decision should be made as to whether all or a random sample of the “deceased group” should be reviewed. Care should be taken to include all prominent cases in the sample.

Step 11.

Each case file will be reviewed by each fieldworker independently in the first instance. They will create a written summary with chronological information of the case. In certain cases a second reader may be required, this will be discussed and agreed between the fieldworkers.

Step 12.

Following the reading of the case and the creation of a summary, the fieldworkers will analyse and assess the actions taken in the case. They will assess compliance with agreed Church policy that was extant at that time. They will also indicate whether any current risk exists in respect of the information contained within the file and advise the church Authority of necessary safeguarding action to reduce the risk.

Step 13.

When all the case files have been read, the fieldwork team will then examine and review any procedures or protocols that exist within the diocese to confirm that they are in compliance with the Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance document issued by the NBSCCCI in February of 2009.

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Step 14.

To complete the Review, the fieldwork team will then seek to speak to those directly involved in the safeguarding structure in the diocese. This should include the Advisory Panel, a sample of parish safeguarding representatives, the designated person, the safeguarding committee, victim support and advisors and the Bishop/Provincial. The purpose of these interviews is to form a view of the competence and effectiveness of the safeguarding structure that exists within the Church Authority.

Step 15.

The fieldwork team will also seek to speak to representatives of the key statutory agencies to provide them with an opportunity to express their views on the quality of the working relationships that exist between them and the Church Authority.

Step 16.

A verbal feedback session on initial key findings will be given to the Church Authority.

Step 17.

Upon completion of the field work, the team may request to take materials – other than casework records to review off-site; this alongside all materials gathered by the reviewers, including written notes on cases and meetings, will be analysed and will form the basis of the draft assessment review report.

Step 18.

The draft will be forwarded to the Church Authority for factual accuracy checking.

Step 19.

Alongside all other reports under review, the report will be presented in draft to the Reference Group for their critique and comment. If further work is required at the direction of the Reference group the CEO will ensure this work is completed and advise the Church Authority accordingly.

Step 20.

The report will be legally proofed by NBSCCCI lawyer.

Step 21.

The report will be forwarded to the National Board for approval

Step 22

A final draft report will then be submitted to the Church Authority. The expectation would be that the Report will be published by the Church Authority at an agreed time in the future.

Step 23.

All case material written, including summaries, as part of the review, which are for the reviewers use only, will be stored on a secure server.

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Guide for Reviewers

In terms of small (female religious orders) reference should be made to the following:

1. Has the Order provided alternative care to children in an orphanage, industrial school or children’s residential home, but no longer is engaged in running such services;

2. Has the order provided education to children, in both or either boarding schools and day schools, but no longer does so ;

3. Has the order provided medical and/or nursing services to children, but no longer does so;

4. Has the order provided any other services to children, in community services centres, youth clubs etc., and no longer does so;

5. Does the order currently provide any sort of service to children and families that brings them into regular contact with children;

6. Has the order never provided any service to children (e.g. contemplative orders).

In relation to category 1 above;

1. The reviewers will establish whether any service they provided is included in the list of children’s residential services produced by the Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB);

2. If this is the case, reference should be made to this.

3. If complaints have been referred to the Redress Board or Ryan Commission, this review cannot access these records and that will be stated in the report.

4. If the order has received complaints which have not been processed through Redress or Ryan these cases will be thoroughly examined as detailed above.

Review of Policy and Procedures

1. It is recognised that not all Orders will have any ministry with children and therefore their policies and procedures should reflect the work that they do with children.

2. If the Order only works through other organisations, example in Diocesan work or in schools, they are required to follow the policies of those organisations.

3. If there are gaps in the policy document an assessment should be made as to whether the ministry engaged in requires full compliance with all criteria attached to the seven standards

4. Where it is clear that the criteria do not apply a reference should be made at the beginning of the review report that the Order’s ministry is not directly with children and therefore adherence to particular criteria do not apply.

5. In the Order is a contemplative Order, there is no expectation that they will have detailed policies and procedures, but reference should be made to their ministry and that they have no contact with children.

6. In all cases, contact will be made with the civil authorities to identify if they have any child safeguarding concerns in relation to the order.