Last week at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, two Restorative Justice workshops were held. These workshops were presented by Cheryl Ward-Kaiser & Suzanne Neuhaus, both sit on the Restorative Justice committee for the California Catholic Conference. Both workshops were very well attended.
Cheryl Ward Kaiser (left) & Suzanne Neuhaus (right)
The first workshop, "Beyond Conviction: Healing through Victim Offender Dialouge", spoke about “Victim offender dialogue” in crimes of severe violence, including homicide, is perhaps the restorative justice practice that provides the deepest healing opportunity for crime victims, survivors and offenders. In a facilitated process, the victims/survivors voluntarily meet face-to-face with the offender. Many victims and survivors leave with greater understanding and a sense of closure, and many offenders experience a more complete understanding of the harm they have caused. Participants were able to have the opportunity to learn about the dialogue process and hear from Cheryl and her testimony.
The second one "A Ministry of Presence: Accompanying Those Who've Suffered the Death of a Loved One to Homicide" , attendees were able to learn more about ways to more effectively accompany the bereaved in their grief and minister to their needs. In the wake of homicide, the thirst for justice experienced by surviving family members and friends is overwhelming, the depth of injury to the heart often seems unbearable and the existence of a loving and merciful God is often lost in the suffering. Accompanying those whose loved one has been intentionally killed by another requires the ability to be present in the darkness, to listen compassionately and to love without judgment. It requires a deep connection to one’s own faith and an awareness of personal fears and limitations.
A big thank you to Suzanne and Cheryl for their work!
Both workshops were audio recorded. If you are interested in purchasing the audio copy of the workshops, please visit the recongress ordering site for more details.