VIRTUS® provides investigation training

VIRTUS® is the program of National Catholic designed to strengthen communities through awareness, education, and training.

As with many businesses and organizations, the Catholic Church needs effective tools for investigating wrongdoing. In response, VIRTUS® is now creating a training program for shareholders on how to conduct effective investigations for several types of workplace wrongdoing, including allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, discrimination, theft, and other complaints the Church might face. The goal of VIRTUS® Investigation Training is to train people so that justice, mercy, and healing is brought to everyone involved in a complaint about workplace wrongdoing.

In the secular business world, an investigator must balance two basic interests—the employer’s interest in gathering facts about a reported wrongdoing and the accused’s right to privacy. When the Church and its people are involved, the Church has the added obligation of complying with canon law regarding allegations against clergy and religious and of being a good steward of its resources. VIRTUS® Investigation Training is customized to address the particular needs, concerns, and limitations present in claims of misconduct against clergy and other Church personnel.

VIRTUS® Investigation Training looks at the basic principles and techniques for conducting an effective investigation. It considers the issues that may arise during an investigation and provides practical solutions — solutions designed to serve and protect the investigator, the Church, and the individual rights of all involved parties. The training provides the how-to for preparing an investigation, interviewing witnesses, and writing effective reports. The training also is valuable for those who oversee and supervise internal investigations, as well as those responsible for choosing and monitoring outside investigators.

If you have followed the development of VIRTUS®, we are pleased to announce that the need for investigation training was revealed through the VIRTUS® Continuous Improvement Model—an evaluation and reevaluation process that was developed in the earliest stages of VIRTUS®.

The Continuous Improvement Model ensures that VIRTUS® programs are regularly upgraded and enhanced through input from shareholders, experts, and program participants. The process involves regular, ongoing evaluation and reevaluation of programs and processes.

The VIRTUS® Continuous Improvement Model involves the following steps:

  1. Identify problem areas in need of solution building.

  2. Use cutting-edge research and technology to develop program components.

  3. Increase and improve awareness, education, and training for clergy, religious, staff, and volunteers.

  4. Pilot and implement simple and effective VIRTUS® programs.

  5. Address problem areas that are identified during piloting and implementation. This process results in improved programs.

VIRTUS® Investigation Training is case-in-point for the validation of the Continuous Improvement Model. From the piloting of the VIRTUS® Victim Advocacy Program and Pastoral Case Management Program and the expert review of those materials, the need for VIRTUS® Investigation Training was identified.

Bottom line: VIRTUS® will continue to reevaluate itself to better meet the needs of the entire Church community.

Take time now to help God’s children

In the not-so-distant future, in a diocese not so far away, a bishop (or a person he designates) will schedule a meeting with Mike Bemi of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. (National Catholic), and take the first step toward implementing VIRTUS® in his diocese. Since 1998, National Catholic has fostered VIRTUS® from rough idea into sophisticated, cutting-edge program. For three years, dedicated volunteers from across the United States have donated their time to VIRTUS®.

“VIRTUS® begins with a meeting and a phone call …”

One could argue that because VIRTUS® is now a program—and not an idea—the hard part is over. But, that’s not the case. Now is the hard part. Now is the time when National Catholic must persuade you, like so many others, to volunteer your time, for VIRTUS®.

Meetings. Sometimes they’re necessary, but who really enjoys them? And phone calls. If it weren’t for Mr. Bell’s invention, you probably could get some work done. Right?

But if you think of all the meetings you attend and phone calls you make or take in a day, one more of each is not much of a sacrifice when it comes to the safety and security of our children. You see, VIRTUS® will help people—clergy, employees, volunteers, and parishioners—but most of all it will help children. Protecting God’s children from the evil of child sexual abuse is surely worth one meeting with Mr. Bemi. Protecting students from school violence is surely worth a phone call with him as well.

“Okay. You agree that VIRTUS® is worthwhile …”

And let’s say that Mr. Bemi further illustrates what you already suspect—that, no matter who you are or where you’re located, there is always room for improvement—that VIRTUS® can help your diocese.

On the other hand, all your projects are important. Each benefits your diocese. And most will impact other people in a positive way. So, no matter how good VIRTUS® is, can you fit one more helpful project on your plate?

Time is a valuable asset. You must invest it wisely. Every minute that passes is gone forever. And, if you don’t say “No” occasionally, you will never have time for everything that’s important in your life.

With that written, VIRTUS® is worth making room for on your plate. VIRTUS® can help you to continue to make a real difference in the community around you.

“VIRTUS® is worth your time…”

In the world of service programs, most impact only the implementing organization, but VIRTUS® impacts individuals, as well. No matter who you are, or what role you play in the Church community, VIRTUS® will decrease risk and prevent unsettling and unwelcome surprises. VIRTUS® will provide a system that helps protect you—so you can spend less time worrying about all the “What ifs?” and more time pursuing the ministry of the Church. Here’s how it works:

For those unfamiliar with the presence and harm of sexual abuse, VIRTUS® provides awareness. For those who don’t have the resources to com-bat sexual abuse, VIRTUS® provides communication—communication with those who have the right knowledge, the right experience, and the right tools to help you make a difference. For those who don’t have time to take on anything else, VIRTUS® provides products and services designed to free up your time, so you are better prepared to initiate a timely response when duty calls.

But how much time are we talking about? Great question! All successful service programs require a time commitment from those they serve. The difference between truly successful service programs and those that flounder is the amount of time that participants are willing to commit. We’ve taken this into consideration while developing VIRTUS®. VIRTUS® will require some of your time. But you get to decide how much.

“Okay, I get to decide how much time. But how much time 
is really needed?”

Beginning with training, National Catholic offers a variety of solutions through VIRTUS® with as much or as little involvement on your part as you wish. From live training, to train-the-trainer programs, to online training and awareness programs, VIRTUS® has a time solution that’s right for you.

Our awareness, training, and supporting materials will prepare your staff to help prevent sexual abuse, school violence, discrimination, and other risks among your member organizations. If your staff doesn’t have the time to train others, your trainees can go online for the training and train themselves, and no special or additional hardware is required. All they need is a connection to the Internet.

That’s great, but you still have one obstacle. You have hundreds of organizations within your diocese. They need these programs as well. Who will let your Church community know about VIRTUS® and give them access to its programs?

If time is in short supply, then National Catholic can help disseminate VIRTUS® to others within your diocese. If you want to get more involved, then National Catholic can train your people on how to disseminate VIRTUS® on your own. All you have to do is ask and National Catholic will develop a solution for you.

It may sound like a big challenge to create great ideas—like VIRTUS®—and transform those ideas into reality. But creation and implementation are not the obstacles that stifle or kill most programs. Rather, the greatest obstacle—the obstacle that keeps good programs mired in mediocrity—is the task of successfully inspiring people like you to donate your valuable time. We hope we have persuaded you to make time for VIRTUS®.

Current status of VIRTUS® initiatives:

Each shareholder piloting the Victim Advocacy Program and the Pastoral Case Management Program (pilot) is discovering one of the unique characteristics of VIRTUS® programs: customization.

For example, three pilots recently participated in the instructor-led Victim Advocacy training offered by National Catholic. Each pilot conducted their training differently from the others in order to meet their unique organizational needs—instead of conforming to a “one-size-fits-all” training program.

One pilot trained their director of peace and justice as a victim advocate and as a future instructor. She will facilitate the Victim Advocacy Program in her diocese and train other advocates as needed. Another pilot sent diocesan leaders to the training sessions so that the diocese could gain a clearer picture of the Victim Advocacy Program and how it might work for them. The third pilot gathered a mixture of diocesan leaders and volunteers for the training sessions. This approach served two purposes: 1) it trained a set of advocates, and 2) it clarified for diocesan leaders how best to adopt the program to their specific needs.

One pilot reviewed all the VIRTUS® materials, compared the model program to their existing program, and revised their existing program. Another pilot is making promotional brochures and posters available to any pastor or program director, as well as distributing awareness materials to every location in the community that has a significant incident or allegation.

Another pilot expanded the role of Victim Advocacy beyond child sexual abuse. For instance, persons trained in Victim Advocacy will advocate for a variety of issues, including employment-related complaints and other concerns that may arise in parishes, programs, and organizations within the diocese.

Flexible, adaptable program models are the most useful tools for shareholders. VIRTUS® fits the bill.

What is Your Opinion?

Have you ever considered “spreading the good news” through kind acts of service (in word or deed) toward others?