Overview of the Diocesan Safe Environment Program

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 children. 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 Selection.com
  • 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 codes of conduct.
  • 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 #24

Lay Review Board

The Diocesan Lay Review Board meets on a quarterly basis. During these meetings, the board discusses improvements that could be made to the diocesan safe environment program, as it relates to its policies and procedures. Also, other important and sensitive issues may be discussed on an as needed basis.

Board Members

Sherrie Kelly (Chairperson)
Retired school counselor for Sacred Heart Jr/Sr. High School

Dr. George Jerkovich
Psychiatrist at Salina Regional Medical Center

Melissa Short-Eshleman
Semi-retired officer from the Salina Police Department

Jerome Hellmer
Retired Judge of the 28th Judicial District, Salina, Kansas

John Nachtman
Retired KBI Senior Agent

Maria Cheney
LSCSW, Counselor at Veridian Mental Health/Salina, Victim Assistance Coordinator

Christianna Peterson
RN, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

Sr. Mary Jo Thummel
CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas

Dcn. Steve Frueh
Retired Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper and Federal ATF Agent, ex-officio member

Corey Lyon (Moderator)
Diocesan Chancellor, Canon Lawyer, ex-officio member

Rev. Keith Weber
Diocesan CFO, Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Salina – ex-officio member

Rev. Msgr. James Hake
Defender of the Bond of the Marriage Tribunal and Canon Lawyer, ex-officio member


Let us pray for all victims of sexual violence in conflict, and those working to end this crime.

Pope Francis