On the wall in the safe environment office is a plaque with a saying: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
This quote calls me to reflect on the life of Christ and the importance of love, sincerity and care in our relationships with each other. Where and when we bring Christ’s love with us can make significant differences in the lives of people we encounter.
It is easy to wonder if one person can make change in a world that seems to place its value on personal wants, power and wealth. It is easy to question if we are making a difference when we may be looking for “quick fixes” and “big results” and forgetting the value that come from being present with people. It is through relationships that we see God in each other and we come together to bring about the Kingdom of God in our world today.
The ministry of safe environment is about seeing God in each other. It is about bringing the love and healing message of Christ to others in many facetted ways. The ministry of safe environment does not only focus on bringing awareness to children and adults and the community at large about their worth and dignity and how to protect our most vulnerable from harm and abuse. It does not only support and help find security and justice for those who have been harmed by another due to sexual abuse, especially if the abuse is from someone representing the church. The ministry of safe environment also works to ensure that policies and practices of the church are being followed with perseverance.
As I reflect on the above quote and the work of safe environment, there is one delightful, faith-filled, committed and persistent woman with whom I have worked closely over the past six years. She is Mrs. Eileen Kramer, with whom I am grateful to for showing me and many others what perseverance, commitment and faith mean. She demonstrates how we are called to love Christ and the people of God. Eileen has worked for the archdiocese for close to 40 years in many capacities and has earned many endearing titles. Her most recent is vice chancellor, also known as “the vice.” Among many jobs, one has been to ensure that the people of the archdiocese have their spiritual and pastoral needs met by arranging for clergy to serve in parishes and especially remote missions. She has been a tireless advocate for parish communities, recognizing the hunger of our smaller parishes to have the Mass celebrated whenever possible.
In providing for the parishes, I have had the privilege and enjoyment to coordinate with Eileen on procedures to ensure that clergy and ministers have met the requirements to serve in this archdiocese, also known as vetting. Eileen has demonstrated the importance of making the vetting process accountable and at the same time welcoming.
As we have been celebrating this past year, I want to express my gratitude to Eileen for working with the many people who have come and ministered true to the mission of Christ in our archdiocese. Eileen is a very humble woman of God and someone who has changed my world and the world of the Archdiocese of Anchorage.
A following quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas sums up what Mrs. Eileen Kramer teaches us: “The things that we love tell us what we are.”
Eileen Kramer loves God and the true mission of Christ and his church and clearly is a faithful, grace-filled woman of God.
The writer is director of the Office of Safe Environment for the Anchorage Archdiocese.