VIRTUS Registration

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“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”

~ Jeremiah 3:15

Child Protection Resources

In order to assist the members of our diocese more effectively, we have placed several documents online that explain the goals and desires of the Diocese of Salina in matters of child and youth protection. Also, here is a direct link to the Office of Child and Youth Protection at the USCCB: Please contact the Safety and Security office with any questions that you may have.

Safety & Security

In their pastoral letter, Walk in the Light:  A Pastoral Response to Child Sexual Abuse, the US Bishops stated,

"People tend to think that certain authority figures - such as parents, stepparents, teachers and clergy - are above reproach:  that 'pillars of the community' could not abuse children.  Abusive behavior often hides behind the masks of love and trust.  While the true incidence of child sexual abuse remains unknown, it is nonetheless significant.  We state firmly and clearly that any act of child sexual abuse is morally evil.  It is never justified."

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.

 For the safety and the healing of children, the Diocese of Salina provides an Abuse of Minors Pastoral Response Hotline   785-825-0865, along with an email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Calls to this number/email  will be answered by the Diocesan Assistance Coordinator.  All calls/emails are confidential with the following exception:  Any allegation of child abuse concerning those who currently are minors, must be reported to the Kansas Protection Report Center (1-800-922-5330) as required by Kansas State Law and Diocesan Policy.

A Summary of the Diocesan Safe Environment Program

A Training Program on the Prevention of Child Abuse

All those who minister to children or young people are to be educated about the nature of child sexual abuse, how it is perpetrated, how to report it, and strategies for prevention.  The Diocese of Salina has implemented a training program by the name of “VIRTUS”.  VIRTUS is a national program, widely in use in dioceses throughout the United States. It is a web-based on-line training program that specializes in helping churches and religious organizations create safe environments for children and youth.  The program is mandatory for all adults [employees or volunteers] who interact on a regular basis with children in the Salina Diocese.  There are three Parts to the VIRTUS program.

  • Viewing a 90-minute on-line video which covers in great detail the nature of child sexual abuse, how to respond properly when it is suspected and methods of prevention and reporting about childhood sexual abuse.  A Certificate of Training Attendance is available after completing the training
  • Providing personal information for a criminal background check to be run on each applicant or volunteer-which is accomplished when you register with the VIRTUS program.  
  • Reading and signing our Diocesan Code of Conduct, which each trainee is required to read and sign off on while completing the training.

Most users complete the registration and training in 90 minutes.  This replaces the former Safe Environment Program offered through our Diocese.  For this reason, individuals can now complete their Safe Environment clearance in the privacy of their homes and at their leisure. 

The VIRTUS program also is available in Spanish.  Anyone logging on to the VIRTUS web site is offered the Spanish option.

Criminal Background Check

Every adult who regularly ministers to children or young people in the Church must have a criminal background check conducted by the Diocese.  The Diocese employs a private national company, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) to conduct the background checks. This also is accomplished online by the applicant.

Safety Curriculum for Students in Parish Religious Education Programs and Catholic Schools

All dioceses in the United States must incorporate into their teaching curricula a safety program which assists young people to avoid people, places and circumstances that are potentially abusive and harmful.  The Diocese of Salina recommends the employment of Child Lures Prevention, Happy Bear or a program of equivalent subject matter. These nationally recognized programs focus on various ways children are lured into harmful situations and how they can be avoided.  This training program is for students in both primary and secondary grades.  

Please contact Wendy Backes at the Safety and Security Office or Jennifer Mitchell at Child Lures Prevention (800)552-2197

Lay Review Board Membership

  • Sherrie Kelly (Chairperson), Retired school counselor for Sacred Heart Jr/Sr. High School
  • Nancy Main, Retired social worker/child advocate
  • Dr. George Jerkovich, Psychiatrist at Salina Regional Medical Center
  • Monica Woolsoncroft, Physician Assistant at a Salina Clinic
  • Guy Steier, District Magistrate Judge
  • Mike Marshall, Retired detective with the Salina Police Department
  • Melissa Short-Eshleman, Semi-retired officer from the Salina Police Department
  • Corey Lyon (Moderator), Vice-Chancellor of the Diocese of Salina and Canon Lawyer, ex-officio member
  • Rev. Bill Surmeier, Certified Counselor/Retired Priest, ex-officio member
  • Rev. Keith Weber, Diocesan Finance Officer, 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
  • Very Rev. Kerry Ninemire, Vicar General of the Diocese, Pastor of Seven Dolors Parish, Manhattan - ex-officio member
  • Anne Kresin, Retired counselor at Veridian Mental Health/Salina
  • Pamela Sullivan, JD (Diocesan Assistance Coordinator), Chancellor of the Diocese of Salina, ex-officio member


The Lay Review Board meets on a quarterly basis.  At these meetings, the board regularly discusses improvements that could be made to the diocesan safe environment program, updating policy and procedure and other important and sensitive issues are discussed on an as needed basis.

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

ー Pope Francis