The Review Board of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma on the implementation of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People held its consecutive meeting on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at the parish rectory of Sts. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, PA.

L-R: Fr. Michael Polosky, Ms. Marika Zaliszczuk, Dr. Justine Perhosky, and Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak.

The meeting was attended by four Review Board members: Fr. Michael Polosky, eparchy’s Protosyncellus and Pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ambridge, PA and Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Aliquippa, PA; Fr. Lubomyr Zhybak, head of the eparchial Office of Children and Youth Protection and Safe Environment Coordinator, head of the eparchial Office of Children, Youth, and Young Adults Ministry, and pastor of Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church in Youngstown, Ohio and St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church in Austintown, Ohio; Ms. Marika Zalisczuk, eparchial Victims Assistance Coordinator; and Dr. Justine Perhosky, PhD. Other members of the Board: Rev. Hierodeacon Joseph Wirag and Mrs. Renata Harmatiy were not present at the meeting due to personal reasons.

The meeting began with a singing of “Christ is risen!” in Ukrainian, led by Fr. Michael Polosky. Afterwards, Fr. Lubomyr heartily welcomed Father Michael as the new member of the board in place of Msgr. George Appleyard, who retired from his duties last year. During the course of the meeting, Fr. Lubomyr reconfirmed to the board members, having presented to everyone a copy of an official letter, that the eparchy has been found compliant last year with the data collection requirements for the 2016/2017 Charter audit period as per Stonebridge Business Partners, who forwarded the documents to the Secretariat of Youth and Child Protection of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington DC. Father Lubomyr also presented to the board copies of the eparchy’s two revised and approved by Bishop Bohdan Danylo documents, namely Policy and Procedures for the Protection of Youth and Young People as well as Code of Conduct. He informed the members that the two documents were revised according to the suggestions made by the Stonebridge on-site auditor in 2016. In regard to the eparchial Policy and Procedures for the Protection of Youth and Young People, the following revisions were made: the language was updated in the document to include procedures for handling allegations regarding the acquisition, possession, and distribution of child pornography; the policy has been reviewed and revisited to ensure that the protocol included procedures for handling allegations of abuse of individuals who habitually lack the use of reason; and some other issues. In regard to updating the eparchy’s Code of Conduct, the following revision was made as per Stonebridge recommendation: a specific language was included in terms of prohibiting child pornography in accord with the most current Charter revision.

During the meeting, Father Lubomyr also informed the board members that the eparchy has been successfully utilizing the VIRTUS on-line training program as the universally acceptable in the eparchy training program that has JD Palatine – the agency that performs background checks for the clergy, employees and volunteers in the eparchy – incorporated into the platform (to note: JD Palatine performs background checks for the residents of all States that fall under the jurisdiction of the eparchy except for the State of Pennsylvania that requires for a person’s background check to be obtained through a State run agency). Following another suggestion made by Stonebridge, the eparchy has been using since 2017 “Protecting God’s Children Touching Safety Program,” developed by VIRTUS, as the universally acceptable in the eparchy training program designed for the children and youth Grades K through 12, that was promulgated by Bishop Bohdan in 2017.

Another topic of discussion during the meeting was a need to find an attorney for the board, who would replace Mr. John Bates, who due to health reasons retired from the board earlier this year. Father Lubomyr expressed deep gratefulness and appreciation to Mr. Bates, who dedicated many years of humble and professional pro bono service in the eparchy as member of the Review Board. In fact, it was Mr. Bates, who, in collaboration with Msgr. George Appleyard and some other people, was responsible to a great degree for the coining of the Policy and Procedures as well as the Code of Conduct for the eparchy.

Before the end of the meeting that concluded with a prayer Hail Mary, Father Lubomyr renewed gratefulness to all Review Board members for their time and sacrifice in this important work and wished everyone Lord’s choicest blessings.