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The Safe Environment

By Reggie Vasquez, Star Council Director

Vol. 4, 2016-2017

Reggie Vasquez

The message is often transmitted in numerous ways and means: the goal is Star Council. It comes from the top of the Order and from the bottom up. How that message is transmitted and who receives it makes all the difference in the outcome.

With all things human, change seems inevitable. And so it is with our Order. This year we are seeing a lot of change in our programs structure and reporting obligations. The message of our leadership cannot be more clear: how we are seen is how we are known. So, let our light shine by our Faith in Action and it will let all know that the Knights of Columbus in Texas are committed to good works informed by faith.

One of the big adjustments Councils have to deal with is our ongoing effort to provide a safe environment for all. Our safe environment program safeguards children and other vulnerable persons, assures members and their families that we maintain a safe environment, protects members from awkward situations, misunderstandings and appearances of impropriety; it builds trust with arch/dioceses and parishes, and protectsthe good name of the Knights of Columbus.

The mechanics of providing a safe environment is double edged. On the one side is/are the requirements of each diocese for all its members and ministries. On the Knights of Columbus side it is the issue of “compliance” with the standards set forth by our Supreme Office. In step with our Faith in Action program model, those Grand Knights and Council Director elected or appointed for the term as specified on the forms 185 and 365 (GK, Program Director, Family Director, Community Director) as well as Chief and Adult Counselors, Navigators, and State Directors are required to take safe environment training and may be required to provide authorization for a background check. As valid (fully filled out) forms are submitted to Supreme, the appropriate directors and chairs will be notified by Praesidium (the Order’s safe environment partner) to complete safe environment training and provide authorization for a background check. They will be assigned a username and password and a link necessary to provide background check authorization. The Knights cover all costs. Email notifications are unique to each recipient and cannot be forwarded or used by another director or chair. And there is a time limit to notification and response (30 days).

This last bit of information is crucial in that compliance with the Knights has a direct impact on Star Council status. And even if a member is listed in more than one position (chair/director) on the 365, he has to be compliant for each position listed (training and background authorization).

In Closing, as the Supreme Knight has alluded to: if we value charity, if we value unity and fraternity we will build a society where the common good is protected. And if we value these things, then we will protect the freedom that makes them possible.

Vivat Jesus! Viva Cristo Rey!

Reggie Vasquez, Star Council Director

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