January 28, 2013 - Director of Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach Named*

Soper_Vivian200x300Braintree, MA (January 28, 2012) – The Archdiocese of Boston announced today that Vivian Soper has been appointed Director of the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach (OPSO).  She succeeds Barbara Thorp, the long-time director of the office, who concluded her service to the Archdiocese in September 2012.  Ms. Soper will begin her new role in mid February 2013. 

OPSO is dedicated to providing pastoral and outreach services to survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families as well as parishes and all those impacted.

Most Reverend Robert P. Deeley, J.C.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia said, “We are grateful that Vivian has agreed to lead the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach in the work of serving survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their families.  This important work of helping survivors heal is a commitment of the Church  and we are fortunate that we are able to have someone of Vivian’s substantial gifts and background available to oversee this ministry.  I also want to express my appreciation to Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Health and Social Services, for conducting a careful search process and for the members of the search committee who treated this responsibility with sincerity and great care for all impacted by sexual abuse.”  

"I am humbled and blessed to have the opportunity to be part of this important ministry of the Church," said Ms. Soper.  "The Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach exists to support the healing of survivors and their families, a cause near to my heart.  Over the years Cardinal Seán has never wavered in expressing his care and concern for all those impacted by clergy sexual abuse.  I am honored to be able to join the dedicated staff at OPSO and be part of fulfilling our ongoing commitment to survivors and their families, both now and into the future.  I will miss everyone at Catholic Charities and I thank them for letting me join in their efforts over the last many years to help ease the burden of those who are struggling.  I also want to thank Debbie Rambo for her support in this transition and her skilled leadership of Catholic Charities.”

"Vivian is a compassionate and committed professional who has made an immeasurable impact in her 15 years at Catholic Charities," said Deborah Kincade Rambo, President of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.  "I am pleased to know that she will continue to use her talents in her new role with the Archdiocese.”

Ms. Soper will work closely with Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Health and Social Services.  Fr. Hehir said, “We are pleased to welcome Vivian to this important ministry of the Church.  She has earned the trust of many with her exceptional work with Catholic Charities of Boston.  We also want to thank Catholic Charities President Debbie Rambo for allowing us to seek the leadership talents of Vivian in her new role.  The Church is committed to the protection of children and the pastoral care of those impacted by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse.”

Fr. Hehir also thanked June Chin, Assistant Director, who has served as interim director since Mrs. Thorp stepped away from the office last September, for her continuing commitment to the work of OPSO.  Ms. Chin will remain with the office. 

Vivian Soper

Ms. Soper holds a masters degree (MSW) from Boston University (1986) and an undergraduate degree (BSW) from the University of Southern Maine (1983).  A resident of Weymouth, MA, Ms. Soper has served as Regional Director for Catholic Charities of Boston since 2003 where she has been employed since 1998.  In the course of her career, she also provided assessment and treatment for survivors of sexual abuse.  From 1986-1991, Ms. Soper was employed by Catholic Charities Old Colony Area specializing in reviewing and assessing sexual abuse claims for the Department of Social Services in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach/ Safe Environment Training

Through its Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach, the Archdiocese continues to make counseling and other services available to survivors, their families and parishes impacted by clergy sexual abuse and by allegations of abuse by members of the clergy. Cardinal Seán encourages any person in need of pastoral assistance or support to contact the Archdiocese’s Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach by calling 617-746-5985.

The Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach has met with over 900 survivors and family members; the average number of people receiving therapy at any given time is approximately 300.

Since 2003, approximately 300,000 children have received safe environment training through their parish schools or religious education programs.  Approximately 175,000 adults – including diocesan and religious order priests, deacons, candidates for ordination at Archdiocesan seminaries and in diaconate formation, educators, employees, parents, and volunteers – have been trained to recognize and report suspected abuse.  More than 300,000 CORI checks have been conducted for Archdiocesan and religious priests, deacons, educators, volunteers, and other personnel working with children.  Almost 400 reports of child abuse or neglect (51A reports) have been filed with the Department of Children and Families (formerly the Department of Social Services) by our parishes and schools since these safety programs began.  The majority of reports were made as a result of a child self-disclosing abuse to someone in the parish.  In almost all cases, the abuse involved someone in the child’s family, a neighbor, other children, or an adult known to the child.

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 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 288 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 42,000 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.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit  www.BostonCatholic.org.