Mary Solberg

Dave Scarborough with IdentoGo secures
fingerprints from Michele Inter, director of
Disabilities Ministries of the Diocese of Erie.
Photo by Mary Solberg

Thirty-eight employees of Erie underwent screenings recently as part of an effort to ensure safe environment practices.

In its ongoing commitment to the safety of children and vulnerable adults, the diocese has directed that all of its employees, even those who do not regularly work with children, must secure clearances that include child abuse history certification, fingerprinting, and a Pennsylvania State Police criminal history record.

The scope of this directive applies only to employees of the Diocese of Erie, not to other individuals who work for other employers such as parishes, schools or agencies.

Employees of the diocese also must complete a mandated reporter compliance document, a statement of intent for compliance and safe environment training.

On March 19, IndentoGO, an identity service for the state of Pennsylvania, brought a mobile fingerprinting unit to Erie’s St. Mark Catholic Center, where diocesan offices are located. Diocesan employees who had not already secured safety clearances were fingerprinted as part of their individual clearance process.

“This is a continuation of our diocesan effort to be responsible and proactive in our safe environment practices,” said Cindy Zemcik, coordinator of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth for the Diocese of Erie.

The 13-county diocese, under the leadership of Bishop Lawrence Persico, is committed to taking measures that heighten awareness of the scourge of child sexual abuse. Last year, the diocesan Policy for the Protection of Children was significantly updated. Among the specific updates were:

  • An expanded set of definitions that leave no doubt as to what constitutes abuse
  • The Office for the Protection of Children and Youth is the central depository of all allegations from any school, agency, parish or other source connected to the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Erie
  • In addition to state clearances as a condition of working with children in the diocese, any new employees and volunteers who work with children in any Catholic entity within the 13 counties also need clearances from the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth.