Awake Stands with the Family of Nate Lindstrom

Yesterday marks one year since the death of Nate Lindstrom. You may have read news coverage of this heartbreaking story in December; Nate died by suicide after years of suffering in the aftermath of clergy sexual abuse as a high school student in Green Bay. Nate's death has rocked the Green Bay community and inspired many to take action.

Awake was honored to be invited to stand with family, friends, and supporters of Nate Lindstrom at a rally in Green Bay on Sunday. We will share more about our experience in next week's blog post, but today, I wanted to pass along the text of the remarks I gave at the press conference, which you can read below.

I was grateful to have this opportunity to speak words of apology and support, on behalf of many Catholics who care and want to help. I hope what I said resonates with you - and that you will join Awake in standing with all who have been harmed.

Let's stand up and speak out, together,

Sara Larson
Executive Director, Awake Milwaukee


Sara's Remarks at the Green Bay Press Conference

The organizers of Nate's Mission graciously invited Awake's executive director Sara Larson to speak at the press conference. Here is the text of her remarks:
"Hello, my name is Sara Larson and I’m the executive director of Awake Milwaukee, a growing grassroots nonprofit organization of Catholics seeking to address the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Our mission is to awaken our community to the full reality of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and work for transformation and healing throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

I am here today because as a Catholic, I recognize that transformation and healing can only come when we know the whole truth of what has happened in the past - and what continues to happen today. Awake Milwaukee, and many Catholics throughout the state, are honored to stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Nate Lindstrom, and all who have been harmed by sexual abuse and leadership failures in the Catholic Church.

You deserve so much more than apologies, but I stand here today, as a member of the Catholic Church, to offer a heartfelt apology to all who have been harmed by my Church. I speak on behalf of Awake Milwaukee and of the more than 300 Catholics who have signed our Open Letter to Survivors, and, as a committed Catholic, I speak on behalf of my Church. We are so, so sorry for all the ways that we have failed you and your loved ones, by our actions and by our silence. We offer no justifications or excuses, only our sincere regret for the ways that you have been harmed - not only by the abuse but by all the ways we showed a lack of care for you and for your loved ones in the lifelong aftermath of that abuse. We know that we can’t take away the past, but from this moment forward, we pledge to listen to you and work with you for justice and healing.

I am here today because my Catholic faith compels me to stand up in the face of injustice and act in solidarity with those who are suffering. The call of Jesus Christ is a call to compassion and courage, and I am here to listen and learn how I can better live out that call today.

I am also here to share a message from Awake to our fellow Catholics. We believe that as Catholics we should be the loudest voices calling for truth, transparency, accountability, and compassion in our Church. We should be the ones most invested in understanding and facing the full reality of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and in seeking real change so that our Church can be a place of comfort and safety, rather than a source of pain. I encourage all Catholics to truly listen to those who have been harmed and consider how God is calling us to respond to Nate’s story and the stories of so many others who have been wounded by our Church.

It is time for us as Catholics to step up and act."

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Update: The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Offers More Details about New Misconduct Policies

Last week the Awake Blog offered details of new Archdiocese of Milwaukee protocols related to allegations of misconduct by bishops, clergy, and lay leaders. Awake sent several questions to archdiocesan staff to learn more about how these policies will work. Last Friday, Jerry Topczewski, the archbishop’s chief of staff, responded with answers, now available on the blog.

Milwaukee Catholics, we invite you to take a peek here and stay informed.


Blog Post: Fordham Panel Explores Clergy Abuse in Native American Communities

This week on the Awake blog we report on a recent panel discussion about a little-known piece of U.S. Catholic history: Native American boarding schools, run by the Church, where Indigenous children regularly experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Is healing possible?

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Please Join Us In Prayer

This week, we invite you to pray for the loved ones of Nate Lindstrom, a victim of clergy sexual abuse in Green Bay who died by suicide one year ago tomorrow. Please especially remember in prayer Nate's parents David and Mary, his brothers David and Aaron, and his wife Karen and their three young children.

May the Lord give them strength, comfort, and peace.
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