News & Press

Archdiocese Forms the ‘Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection,’ Establishes New ‘Office of Professional Standards and Oversight’

(Braintree, Mass.) – The Archdiocese of Boston today announced the formation of the Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection, a newly established department which joins together the offices of Pastoral Support and Outreach, Child Advocacy and Background Screening.  The new Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection integrates the resources and expertise of these three important pastoral ministries under one Archdiocesan office. The Archdiocese also announced the establishment of a new Office of Professional Standards and Oversight and the appointments of Mr. Mark Dunderdale and Msgr. John P. McDonough to this new office.

“The Archdiocese of Boston has worked diligently to ensure our children’s safety and to promote healing and reconciliation in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis,” stated Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.  “Much has been accomplished by our efforts, but more remains to be done.  The establishment of these two new offices will allow us to continue our critical work in the areas of prevention and protection and to continue to care for those impacted by clergy sexual abuse in a more integrated manner.”

Continuing in his role as Special Assistant to Cardinal Seán is Fr. John J. Connolly, Jr.  In addition to his duties as pastor of St. Brendan’s Parish in Dorchester, Fr. Connolly will continue to serve as Special Assistant to the Cardinal, consulting with Cardinal Seán and the directors of the newly established offices on matters relating to the Archdiocese’s continuing response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.  

Overseeing the Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection is Barbara Thorp, LICSW.  Mrs. Thorp will report to Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services.  Mrs. Thorp, an employee of the Archdiocese of Boston since 1977, most recently served as Director of the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach.   This Office was established in 2002 in the aftermath of the revelations of clergy sexual abuse.  Under Mrs. Thorp’s leadership, the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach provides opportunities for healing and support to survivors, families, parishes and all those impacted by clergy sexual abuse.  All services and staff dedicated to this important work will continue as part of the new Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection.

The new Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection incorporates the Archdiocese’s critical work in the area of prevention including directing safe environment training for children in parish schools and religious education programs as well as for adults  including diocesan and religious order priests, deacons, candidates for ordination/diaconate formation, educators, employees and volunteers. 

Further, the Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection will house the Archdiocese’s screening efforts.  Through the Office of Background Screening, a total of 300,000 CORI checks have been conducted since Cardinal Seán was installed in 2003.  The Archdiocese conducts more than 60,000 CORI checks annually for Archdiocesan and religious priests, deacons, educators, volunteers and other personnel working with children. 

The newly established Office of Professional Standards and Oversight will be overseen by Mr. Mark Dunderdale, who will serve as Director.  In his role, Mr. Dunderdale will assist the Archdiocese in promoting and maintaining professional standards for all who minister and work on behalf of the Archdiocese of Boston.  From 2000-2009, Mr. Dunderdale was an Assistant District Attorney in the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office where he served as Chief of the Computer Crimes Unit and as the Family Protection Unit Prosecutor.  A 1989 graduate of Marquette University with a degree in civil engineering, he earned his law degree from Suffolk University in 2000 graduating Cum Laude.  While at Suffolk he was editor of the Suffolk Journal of Trial and Appellate Advocacy.  From 1989-1992 he served in the United States Navy attaining the rank of Lieutenant.  He is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Storm (1990 and 1991). 

Msgr. John P. McDonough has been appointed priest liaison to the Office of Professional Standards and Oversight.   Msgr. McDonough is a former Chief of Chaplains and a retired Major General United States Air Force, who most recently served as Interim Cabinet Secretary for Faith Formation & Evangelization in the Archdiocese.  Both Mr. Dunderdale and Msgr. McDonough will report to Very Reverend Richard M. Erikson, Vicar General  & Moderator of the Curia.

”I want to welcome Mark to the Archdiocese and to express my support for the important work he, Msgr. McDonough and Barbara will conduct as they build on the foundation established under Fr. Connolly’s strong leadership,” said the Cardinal.  “Our hope and prayer is that, through God’s grace, we can work together to continue to fulfill our responsibility and commitment to assure the safety of our children and help those most affected by the sexual abuse crisis.” 

About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 291 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 46,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach and in support of a health care ministry that meets the needs of some 1 million patients each year.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit   www.BostonCatholic.org .