Safe Environment Office

2024 Safety Coordinator Shout – Outs

Each month we will give a shout-out to a safety coordinator at a parish or school who is well deserving.

(pictured left to right, Geoff Andrews, Wendy Backes, Laura Schwarz and Bill Meagher)

Laura’s career at Sacred Heart School and Parish in Colby, KS has been instrumental since the day I met her. Laura, originally from Nebraska , graduated from the University of Nebraska in Kearney in 1999 with a Bachelor’s degree in music education. Her first teaching job was at Colby Public Schools teaching elementary music to third, fourth and fifth graders.  Five years later the music position opened up at Sacred Heart School in Colby and Fr. Dana hired her to teach music at the school, and direct religious education for the parish. With the job of religious education came the job of implementing the safe environment program for the CCD teachers at the time.  There was a 1 hour video everyone had to watch on a VHS tape and complete a background check!  “Things have changed a lot since then”, said Laura.  In 2013, Laura met her husband.  He proposed in August and they were married in February of 2014.  In November of 2014, their first son, Matthew, was born.  At the time she was principal of Sacred Heart School and doing the safe environment program for both the school and the parish.  Soon after Matthew was born she made the decision to step back from the principal position and work mainly from home.  She continued as safety coordinator for both the parish and school along with religious education director for Kindergarten – eighth grade.  Their son Timothy was born in 2016 and Benjamin in 2021.

Laura has a a long list of favorite Saints she asks to pray for her boys and their family every evening.  Her top three favorites Saints are Pope St. John Paul II (Ishe as blessed to see him in Denver when she was in high school), St. Mother Teresa, and St. Maximilian Kolbe. 

 Laura has been an integral part of Sacred Heart Parish and School, and has been an essential part of the Safety Coordinator team here at the diocese. Her adaptability, honesty, passion, attention to detail and dedication is what I admire most about her.

I greatly appreciate all of Laura’s hard work as Safety Coordinator, DRE, and Principal as she continues to carry out our mission she promise to protect, pledge to heal at Sacred Heart Parish and School in Colby, KS.

Previous Shout-Outs

March 2024 Shelly Wahlmeier – Safety Coordinator St. Joseph – New Almelo and St. Francis of Assisi -Norton

February 2024 Amy Hudson – Safety Coordinator TMP Marian, Hays, KS

January 2024 Amanda Martin – Safety Coordinator Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Goodland, KS




Please click compliance letter below to read the letter addressed to Bishop Vincke from StoneBridge Business Partners regarding the most recent audit findings from our on-site audit conducted September 2021.


The Catholic Diocese of Salina is committed to maintaining safe environments for children to learn, pray and grow. The Safe Environment Office is responsible for implementing and overseeing the full diocesan response to the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (click below to read). To ensure the safety of children and young people entrusted in our care, we provide educational training programs (through CMGConnect on-line platform), conduct presentations, and provide resource materials to personnel ministering to minors in our schools and parishes in relation to the directives of the Charter. Along with the training, with the assistance of the Human Resources Department, the office helps to oversee background screenings of these trained adults.

USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People

The Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) manages the Catholic Diocese of Salina’s response to a victim/survivors of sexual abuse by serving as a contact and support for them, offering information regarding therapy, counseling and opportunities for outreach toward healing and restoration for the individual and their family. The VAC may also make recommendations to the bishop regarding any special needs of the affected parishes or community.

The Safe Environment Office supports our parishes and schools, maintains the compliance of our Dioceses and is an excellent resource for parents, educators, volunteers and community members.


As a community of faith, we believe that the prevention of child sexual abuse begins with each person. Increased awareness and a willingness to take action are steps for every person to take to eradicate abuse in our society, in the community, in the neighborhood, and in the family.

In the Catholic Diocese of Salina, we ensure this by:

  • Thoroughly screening and training all clergy, employees, educators and volunteers, with regard to contact with minors. This group includes drivers who transport minors, coaches, kitchen workers, and playground supervisors, just to name a few. The training is done through CMGConnect our on-line training platform through Catholic Mutual which includes an integrated background check through
  • Providing appropriate training in recognizing and reporting child sexual abuse to appropriate civil and church authorities. This training is done through meetings and presentations and is also discussed during on-site audit visits with parish and school Safety Coordinators, Pastors and Principals. Child Abuse training materials are presented through various handouts, flyers, posters and are distributed to parishes and schools via our website, newsletter, and the SDNB.
  • Holding all members of the clergy, employees and volunteers who work with minors to Christ centered and professional policies and codes of conduct. Read the Diocese of Salina Policy and Code of Conduct below.
Diocese of Salina Policy , Code of Conduct, Social Media
  • Providing safe environment training for STUDENTS in catholic schools and parish religious education programs. In these yearly refreshers, teachers will instruct ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children and young people. These age appropriate lessons may include information and instruction about: God’s love, relationships, personal space, boundaries, respect and care; safe and unsafe touches; lures, internet safety, bullying, as well as how to get help from a trusted adult. This training is for students in grades K-12.
  • For more information regarding the Safe Environment Program for the Catholic Diocese of Salina please contact Wendy Backes 785-827-8746 #124

Human Trafficking

Modern day slavery, one of the largest and most urgent issues facing our nation.

The USCCB has provided the following statistical information:

  • There are an estimated 40.3 million victims of modern-day slavery worldwide. Of these, 25 million are victims of labor or sex trafficking and 15 million are people trapped in forced marriages.
  • Nearly 30% of all victims are men and boys; increasing to 46% for victims of forced labor
  • Unfortunately, stakeholders have increasingly found that individuals in situations of forced migration, such as refugees and unaccompanied children, are particularly vulnerable to labor and sex traffickers.
  • Victim identification remains a significant challenge to U.S. efforts to prevent trafficking, prosecute perpetrators, and protect victims.
  • Calculated as a 150-billion-dollar industry, modern day slavery has become the fastest growing source of illicit profit for criminals worldwide.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking call, text or email using the information below:

National: 1-888-373-7888            
By Text:  text HELP to 233733 (BEFREE) 
By Email:
Website with Online chat available: