Over the past couple weeks, you may have noticed some people wearing neon vests walking around the church and parking lot. They also have shirts on with the words “Safety Team.” Over the past year, a dedicated group of people have been working with the parish emergency plan. They began discussing what we would do if we had active violence. While we had some measures in place, this group really began to hash out how we can be vigilant and provide the safest environment for the people of our parish. There are some people with fire safety backgrounds, police backgrounds, and various other specialties that got together to discuss what we should do. An handful of them attended some information trainings at a couple other churches in town who have implemented safety groups. From those trainings, they received valuable information about what other churches are doing to help keep people safe during various emergencies.
This group conferred with Fr. Frank and began the process of forming “Safety Teams.” They took countless hours to write up policies on how this group would help handle situations such as fire, stormy weather, and active violence during weekend Masses. Four “teams,” consisting of four to five people a team, have been setup to be present during the Sunday morning Masses. They are stationed at different locations watching and helping us to be safe. They are not there to deal violently with people; rather, they can be a helpful presence, for example to someone experiencing a medical emergency. They are the eyes and ears of our parish before and after you enter the building. They are in communication with the ushers, liturgical coordinators, and Father before Mass to help people understand they are here to be of assistance. They are not there to intimidate or make people feel uncomfortable. In fact, they would find it helpful for medical personnel and first responders to introduce themselves to the teams, so they would know who they might call on for help in the case of medical emergencies.
Right now there are enough teams to help with the Sunday morning Masses. If they have more people interested, they would be willing to cover more. Even the Education Wing is watched since we have families coming and going on many Sunday mornings. The next time you see these Safety Team volunteers, please thank them for their service.
Unfortunately, we all have heard and known the reality of violence in public places of worship. As a church, we need to do what we can to provide a safe place to gather. We can’t prevent all acts of violence, but these Safety Teams are a positive step towards a sense of responsible vigilance. If you would be interested in knowing more, please contact me at the parish office, and I’d be happy to get you in touch with them.
~ Dcn Wayne Talbot