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Protecting God's Children

Every Parish volunteer over the age of 18 is required by the Diocese of Bridgeport to have a background check and register in the training program, “Virtus”.  Volunteers may sign up for the class (at no charge) through online registration. The class is approximately 3 hours and may be taken at various locations in the diocese including the Catholic Center in Bridgeport. Upon completion of the class, a signed Confirmation of Receipt of the Safe Environment Handbook Form must be submitted to the office prior to beginning duties as a volunteer. For further information, please contact our Virtus Coordinator, Cathy Lauder, (203) 866-3141, ext. 10.
RE‐CERTIFICATION Live (In‐Person) attendance at VIRTUS training is required for all first time applicants. The Criminal Background check and VIRTUS training is renewed online every 5 years for adults who have scheduled contact with children. Any Adult Volunteers and Independent Contractors who do not have scheduled contact with children are required to renew every (10) years. YOU DO NOT NEED TO RENEW EVERY FIVE YEARS UNLESS YOU WORK DIRECTLY WITH CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18 OR ARE AN EMPLOYEE.  The Virtus system will automatically send you a renewal email every 5 years whether you are in direct contact with children or not. You may contact Erin Neil (link below) to have the reminder turned off.  
Important “Protecting God’s Children” Diocesan Requirements:
First Time Participants must take the class at a physical location site. Anyone going for re-certification may take the class on-line through the Virtus site. You will need to know your user name and password.
If you have taken the class once, you have an account.  If you have any problems logging on to your account DO NOT START A NEW ACCOUNT!!  Call Cathy Lauder for assistance.  You may also do your own background check on the site. After logging in, you will see a link in the green banner on the left-hand side that will say Background Check, click the link and it will take you to the site to fill in your information. You do not need to input your Social Security number if you are a volunteer. To bypass the Social Security field on the MYB form, the field must be populated with all 1’s (111-11-1111).  If you do not feel comfortable with this process, you will need to print out one of the forms (also on the site or below) & return it with all your paperwork as noted below. Anyone who wishes to join a committee or participate in any ministry at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish must be completely compliant with Virtus. In order to be compliant, you must attend a Virtus training workshop and fill out the necessary forms. To register for a Virtus class, please go to (click on the logo at the top of the page) and click on "First-Time Registrant".  Please return all paperwork your parish.

Policy:  A newly revised Policy and Procedures Relating to Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons or by Lay Employees or Volunteers.
This policy is in full accordance with state and federal laws and meets the Standards set forth in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young people. All clergy, employees, volunteers and contract employees of the Diocese of Bridgeport will receive a copy of the policy. This policy is contained within the 2020 Safe Environments Handbook below.

Please print the below form that pertains to your affiliation (see paragraph below for clarification). Sign it and return it to the noted department/person printed on the form as confirmation of receipt of the handbook. If you are not sure who to return it to, please bring it to the office where you volunteer:

All forms should be submitted to your primary volunteer or work place for the diocese. For example, if you participate at a school but not at church, then submit the form to the school for proper verification. If you participate at both, then give the original to your church and copy the school to let them know that you have fulfilled all requirements.
The following authorization forms for the required background checks are to be used for people who work or volunteer for Diocese of Bridgeport and those who are contracted to perform work for the Diocese of Bridgeport. Please contact the Office of Safe Environment with any questions by mailing [email protected]   

Safe Environment Handbook

Only use this if you do not register on line:

 Volunteers who are not working in scheduled contact with children are required to provide their date of birth however they are not required to provide a social security number on the form although they are strongly encouraged to do so. Failing to provide a Social Security number may result in negative information returning to the Diocese of Bridgeport or it could result in duplicate names. In the event that this occurs, the Diocese of Bridgeport will contact you and you will be required to provide your social security number in order to positively identify you.
Independent Contractors who already have a criminal background check screening process in place through their company should first contact the Diocese of Bridgeport Office of Safe Environment. A letter on official company letterhead signed by an authorized representative of the company (preferably an officer) is required indicating that all site based individuals have successfully completed a criminal background check and they have been cleared of any crimes against children and sex crimes. The full names of all site based employees and the date of their background check must be included in this letter. In the event that the company does not conduct background checks on their employees, the Diocese of Bridgeport will assist the company with establishing an MYB account below by calling (203) 416-1406.