Fr Fernando Montano, Parish Priest of Castle Hill Parish, is a keen supporter of the Iris Women App, recently released by the Diocese to help women assess their relationships, particularly if there is danger from domestic violence.
Related story: Diocese of Parramatta launches first Safe Parishes Week.
“It is well documented that one in three women experience violence,” said Fr Fernando “We need to join hands to stop the situation that creates death, illness, injury, disability, homelessness and emotional and physical trauma.
“As a Church, providing practical tools such as the Iris Women App, raises our prophetic voice.”
Fr Fernando encourages speaking about domestic violence as a strategy to support victims.
“I think we have to face the fact that many people suffer the effects of domestic violence in silence,” he explains.
“That is why we need to be creative and proactive in speaking against it and denounce it as an evil presence in society and in some families. In that way, people affected by this situation can feel supported not only by the Church, but also of every agency and organization working together to support those affected by it.”
The Iris Women app is designed to help women record what is going on in their relationship through journaling or through videos. The woman can journal what happened and how it made her feel. Over time, it will help build a picture of what is happening in the relationship. She may use it to discuss the situation with her husband who may be unaware of the impact his behaviour is having. In more serious cases she can take it to a professional to get specialist help. The Iris Women App also links to services that can help.
Fr Fernando is especially keen for women of faith to feel the Church supports them in this matter. He understands that a person experiencing domestic violence needs to find people they can trust to help them. He hopes the Iris Women App sends a message to Catholic women that the Church offers support to anyone affected by domestic violence.
“Every person has been created in the image of God and deserves to be loved and respected,” said Fr Fernando. “This is at the core of our Catholic faith. Catholic women should feel there is always someone they can go to.”
The Iris Women app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. There are plans to create a similar app for men.
2015 Australian of the Year Rose Batty and 2021 Local Hero in the Australian of the Year Awards, Rosemary Kariuki (a former parishioner of Baulkham Hills Parish) have both recorded testimonials in support of the app. You can see their video testimonials on the Office of Safeguarding website.
If you see something in your parish you think might be unsafe, or have concerns about, contact the Office of Safeguarding in the Diocese of Parramatta on (02) 8838 3419 or email: email@example.com.
If the matter is urgent call the police on 000.
Safe Parishes Week is being held in the Diocese of Parramatta 6 to 13 June 2021 to highlight the initiatives the Diocese has put in place around Safeguarding.
To find out more about the Iris Women App go to the Office of Safeguarding website.