Safe Environment

Creating a Safer Environment


What is a Safe Environment?

On June 14, 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (The Charter). Article 12 of The Charter required all dioceses in the United States to establish a safe environment program. In December 2002, the USCCB approved The Essential Norms (Norms) to implement the Charter’s provisions. The Norms were approved by the Vatican on December 8, 2002. They constitute particular laws for all the dioceses and eparchies in the United States of America. The purpose of the safe environment program is to help establish and maintain a safer environment for all people, especially minors (people under 18). One goal of the program is to help all adults become part of the solution to the problem of child sexual abuse in our homes, parishes, and communities. You did not cause this problem. But, when caring adults have a “healthy suspicion” about something in their surroundings, they can identify the risks to children early enough to prevent child sexual abuse from occurring.

How can we create a Safe Environment at St. Joan of Arc?

Staff will periodically offer the Diocesan-approved Protecting God’s Children (PGC) training sessions at the parish. All volunteers for public events involving children sponsored by the parish are required to attend one session. Additionally, all parishioners are encouraged to attend the training session to help increase awareness of how the Catholic Diocese of Columbus keeps our kids safe. In addition to attendance at one PGC class, volunteers are asked to submit fingerprints for a background check. The parish will absorb the cost of the fingerprinting for parishioners if fingerprints are taken at St. Joan of Arc.

What do groups need to do to be compliant?

It is the policy of St Joan of Arc that all who host public events where children are present will meet the minimum Diocesan requirements of having the appropriate number of chaperones.  Chaperones must be at least 21 years old and must have attended a PGC class, completed the criminal background check process, and been approved by the Diocese. After September 1, 2018, all volunteers for these public activities will need to be compliant. Please contact Mission Director Paul Davis with any questions by email, at

What will be taught at the Protecting God’s Children class?

 The PGC class is meant to create awareness of the issues and myths surrounding child sexual abuse. It is not meant to be a punishment or an accusation against volunteers. PGC simply illustrates how all adults can become part of the solution to stopping child sexual abuse through increased awareness and vigilance.

How to register for a PGC class and arrange for fingerprinting?

Visit to register for any upcoming class within the Diocese. To make arrangements for fingerprinting, please contact the St. Joan of Arc parish office at 614-761-0905. 

When and where are the PGC classes held?

PGC classes scheduled at St. Joan of Arc are usually held in the social hall. Other sessions are scheduled throughout the Diocese. Dates and locations are found online on Virtus Website. At the drop-down menu Please select your Archdiocese/Diocese/Religious Organization from the list below select Columbus, OH, for a listing of current classes.

Protecting God’s Children Sessions Offered by St. Joan of Arc

Wednesday, August 10th – 6:00 p.m. in the Social Hall
Monday, August 15th – 6:00 p.m. in the Social Hall
Tuesday, August 16th – 7:00 p.m. in the Social Hall

Consistent with Diocesan and Parish policy, anyone who volunteers must complete the “Protecting God’s Children” training and be fingerprinted to have a background check completed.  St. Joan of Arc will be providing the training and fingerprinting. If you have already completed this process, you do not need to do it again.

At St. Joan of Arc, a volunteer is considered to be anyone who represents the parish in a public or ministerial manner. Diocesan policy, requires that files must be kept on all of our volunteers.

Volunteers must be over the age of 18, unless volunteering directly with a parent, or functioning as an altar server during a public celebration of the Eucharist. Volunteers for Youth Ministry must be over the age of 21. ALL volunteers at St. Joan of Arc must have three things in their file:

1) A volunteer registration. This year’s registration can be found HERE.

2) A certificate of attendance at one Protecting God’s Children class. There are currently five classes scheduled for St. Joan of Arc.

3) A copy of a current background check through the State of Ohio Attorney General’s office. This is obtained through submitting fingerprints. Fingerprints are taken at St. Joan of Arc (free of charge to volunteers) and will be offered during the two in-person PGC classes, or by appointment with the parish office.

Those who have completed the PGC and Background check in the past need only complete the volunteer registration. 

Session duration:  3 hours

In keeping with VIRTUS policy, no one will be admitted to this session after the first video has started