Safe Environment

The Catholic Church Is Committed to the Safety of Children. Click on the Promise to Protect logo to see why the Church is one of the safest places for your child to be  

Child Protection - Safe Environment

Churches, schools, and youth organizations must ensure that children and youth who worship, study, or participate in activities sponsored by a parish can do so in the safest and most secure setting possible. Parents and caretakers have the right to ask these institutions if they meet the requirements of the Charter before they allow their children to become involved with them.

An effective safe environment program will have the following components:

A code of conduct and criminal background check for clergy and for any other paid personnel and volunteers in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people.

Training for all adults who work with children that consists of:

  1. Signs an adult may see in a child who is abused
  2. Signs an adult may see in a person who abuses children
  3. What actions an adult should take when they believe child abuse of any kind may be occurring
  4. The laws and policies regarding the reporting of child abuse
  5. A training program for children that includes age appropriate materials pertaining to personal safety that conforms to Catholic teachings.

Below you will find three valuable videos connected to Safe Environment Training. 


Safe Environment Continuing Education

The focus for this year combines initial training with continuing education and is called”Creating a Culture of Healing and Protection - Deliberately Different, Intentionally Catholic.

Our parish communities can be the sort of community where “everyone looks out for” our children and where children can encounter positive adults.

We can offer surveillance, supervision, and, above all, influence the values and interests of our youth.

In modeling Christ we show unconditional love, forgiveness, focus on others versus self, show empathy and show dignity and respect for the person.

We are called to model caring:

  • There are two kinds of adult role modeling that help teach children to be caring:  kindness to others and kindness to the child.
  • If you are consistently caring and compassionate, it’s more likely that your children will be, too.  Children watch their parents, and other adults, for clues on how to behave.
  • Keep in mind that if you say one thing and do another, your children will pay a lot more attention to what you do.  The old warning “Do as I say, not as I do” simply does not work, particularly when it comes to teaching about care.
  • Try to surround your children with other people who are kind and caring, so that they have several role models.

If you treat your children with respect for their dignity, concern, and regard for their achievements, you help them understand that all living creatures should be treated with dignity and concern.

Safe Environment Coordinators
Pat Mertz and Joan Falcon
1039 14th Avenue
Sidney, NE 69162
(308) 254-2828

click logo for link to diocesan page

Our Mission 
The Diocese of Grand Island Child Protection Office was established in 2005  with its mission to carry out the church's "Promise to Protect" children and youth and "Pledge to Heal" those victimized by sexual abuse.

The office is served by two part time staff with several volunteer Victim Assistance Coordinators who are located across the Diocese.

The office directs Victim Assistance Ministry and Safe Environment Programs for the Diocese of Grand Island. 

Elizabeth A. Heidt Kozisek, Ph.D., Director 

Cheryl Albright, 
M.S., Outreach Coordinator

(308) 382-6565
Fax: (308) 382-6569



St. Patrick's Parish participates in the Safe Environment Program of the Grand Island Diocese.
Staff and volunteers receive            on-going education and agree to a background screening.
Children and youth receive on-going education each year.
For more information contact St. Patrick's Safe Environment Coordinators: Pat Mertz or Joan Falcon at 254-2828.


If you, or someone you know, has suffered abuse and are looking for information or support, or to report contact:
* Beth Heidt or Cheryl Albright at the diocesan Child Protection Office  
308-382-6565  or
* The DOVES Program  866-953-6837
​ Espanol 877-215-0167   or 
* Local law enforcement 
Sidney Police Dept.     254-5515
Sheriff Dept. 254-2922
* Pat at parish office  254-2828