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WORKSHOP ON SEXUALITY, CELIBACY AND BOUNDARY VIOLATIONS
By John Tharakan sdb
Hyderabad, Feb. 23. Bosco Psychological Services, New Delhi Province, celebrated its 10 years of service to the Province and the Church with a well attended 3 day workshop on Sexuality, Celibacy and Boundary Violations: Understanding and Helping the Victim and the Offender. The programme started on 18th February morning and ended on 20th evening. The resource persons were Dr. Tony Robinson, clinical psychologist and CEO and Dr. Gerardine Taylor, Clinical Director, of Encompass Australasia. Encompass is a residential treatment centre in Sydney, Australia for professionals, clergy, religious men and women who are struggling with sexual issues.
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This workshop was conducted by Bosco Psychological Services, a brainchild of Fr. Jose Parappully sdb. The past ten years, since the time he returned from the USA after his doctorate in Clinical Psychology, he has been involved in providing psychological support to individuals and organisations. His heart has always been with the Congregation and the Church. Along with the Salesian Psychological Association of which he was the founder Secretary, he organised the latest workshop with a view to helping people open their eyes to an important and urgent need in the congregation and the Church today.

The overwhelming response to the invitation to the seminar, 65 participants from different congregations and dioceses from all over India, is an indication of Fr. Jose's credibility in the field and the seriousness of the problem being addressed. The presence of a large number of Salesians, especially from the Northern Provinces was especially noted by other participants and was a source of satisfaction for the organisers. Some Salesian Provincials had taken an active interest in the programme and encouraged their formation personnel to attend it.

Power Point presentations, relevant handouts and discussion on various issues made the workshop very intense both in terms of content and participation. The data presented was shocking as well as challenging. The approach was compassionate and demanding.

Topics dealt with at the workshop included: Sexual Abuse of Children, Professional Sexual Misconduct, Sexually Exploitative Clergy, Internet Pornography, Understanding and Helping the Victim and the Offender, and Implications for Formation of Clergy and Religious. Many issues that came up from the floor, including groups, were taken up for discussion.

During three days of intense discussions and sharing, the participants felt the enormity of the problem facing us today. They felt that more programmes to create awareness of issues around sexual boundary violations and the systemic dynamics that perpetuate the problem, and to develop skills to help victims and perpetrators, are very necessary and urgent. The Salesian Psychological Association is keen to take a lead in this. Members of the Association would like to work in close collaboration with the SPCSA and other leaders within Church and society to address these issues. The Association, with the cooperation of the SPCSA can bring in competent resource persons and organise awareness and skills building workshops.

Participants expressed great satisfaction about the programme—the content as well as the organisation, and how useful it had been to them. They were especially touched by the compassion with which Tony Robinson and Gerardine Taylor presented the issue of boundary violations and very appreciative of their competence in dealing with the issue. A number of participants saw them as models to imitate in addressing the issue of sexuality and sexual boundary violations, with freedom and clarity, with assurance and confidence, and without any embarrassment or inhibition whatsoever.

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