THE decision to apologise to the victims of historic sexual abuse at St Stanislaus’ College comes with a genuine commitment to say sorry, said Head of College Dr Anne Wenham on Wednesday.
In a media statement released on the eve of this week’s public apology, Dr Wenham, speaking on behalf of the college community, and Fr Greg Brett CM, Provincial of the Vincentians, said the devastation felt by victims and their families was something few people could understand.
“We cannot come close to ever living the pain and suffering that the victims of sexual abuse at Stannies and their families have experienced and continue to experience,” she said.
“The decision to make this apology is with a genuine commitment to say sorry.
“This is our commitment and the victims themselves are at the heart of this occasion.”
Following criticism by victims of a liturgy being included in the apology, Dr Wenham said the service will not take place in the College Chapel, nor will it be a celebration of Mass.
“With the two apologies [delivered by Dr Wenham and Fr Brett] the central focus, the service will be led by lay staff and the lay chair of the College Board of Directors.
“It will be held in the Performing Arts Centre, a building that was only constructed 10 years ago and which is used for many different purposes.”
Dr Wenham said there will be prayer as part of the service, but sensitive to the victims, the prayers will be for forgiveness for the sexual abuse that took place at the college by former members of staff.
Prayers for healing and hope will also be offered for survivors.
“All guests will be provided with a program when they arrive, guests not comfortable being present for specific parts of the service will be very welcome to come and go as their level of comfort allows them.”
Dr Wenham said there would be private spaces within the centre for guests to withdraw to if they chose only to be present for the two apologies.
The college has also organised for mental health professionals to be present for any guest in need of immediate support.
Dr Wenham reinforced her request that media not be present at the college, or the service and advised there will be no interviews.