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 | By Griselda Cervantez

A Journey Towards Healing and Hope

The healing process from sexual assault is unique to every individual—particularly in the cases of clerical sexual abuse. Recently, with the support of California Archbishops and Bishops, the Victims Assistance Coordinators of the Dioceses of California developed and offered a virtual, faith-based retreat series—Six Steps in Your Healing Journey—for adult male survivors of childhood clergy abuse.

Over the course of six weeks, the purpose of this group was to provide a small group setting for retreat participants to continue in their journey towards wholeness, healing, and hope. At its conclusion, participants were given the opportunity to write and reflect about their retreat experience. The following is an excerpt of one participant’s reflection, published with his permission:

“My abuse happened 40 years ago … and I only am coming to terms with the collateral damage caused by this abuse for the past couple of years. Like many survivors, I buried the shame and betrayal way down inside and tried to move on with my life. There was no way I was going to burden my parents, friends or my spouse with this revelation. This was my cross to bear.

My Catholic faith means everything to me. I don't think I could have made it this far without it. I have been very active in my parish and in different ministries all my life. I reached a breaking point a few years back and realized I needed help. I reached out to the diocese abuse hotline number for help and someone called me back. The VAC (Victim Assistance Coordinator) has been instrumental in my healing process and in getting me the help I needed. I was offered an opportunity to be one of the first participants in this virtual retreat that is centered on God, our faith, healing, and hope. The retreat allowed me to share my experience with other survivors [and] understand and make sense of feelings, memories, and emotions that have plagued and directed my life for so many years. I am grateful for the support I have received and the opportunity to continue my healing journey and move forward with God at the center of my life.”

The Diocese of San Jose extends our most heartfelt gratitude to retreat participants—and to all survivors and loved ones who have bravely reported harm by those in positions of trust in the Church—for allowing us to be a part of their journey towards healing and hope. The Diocese remains steadfast in our commitment to utilizing a trauma-informed reporting process, maintaining a safe and nurturing partnership with survivors and their loved ones, and providing empowering and validating pastoral outreach.

If an adult victim/survivor is looking to report a case of clergy abuse or sexual abuse involving Church personnel, we encourage them to first contact their local civil authorities and then call the Diocese of San Jose’s Office for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults at (408) 983-0113, where they will connect with the Victim Assistance Coordinator. The Diocese of San Jose strictly adheres to a zero tolerance policy and promptly notifies law enforcement and child protective services when abuse is reported, in accordance with mandated reporter laws. Reports to the Diocese are also accepted by either online submission or by phone through our secure third-party reporting server: or contact our toll-free 24-hour reporting hotline at (844) 372-1691. All reports are confidential to protect the rights of the victim.

Griselda Cervantez, MSW, is the Victim Assistance Coordinator & Prevention Advocate at the Diocese of San José