April 26, 2023 at 9:34 a.m.

HELPING TO HEAL

Meet Noelle Marie, the new diocesan victim assistance coordinator
Noelle Marie, victim assistance coordinator for the Albany Diocese’s Office of Safe Environment, is the initial point of contact for anyone reporting abuse by clergy or religious members in the Albany Diocese. Marie is also an open ear to any victim/survivor calling to talk, where she can “listen and be present” with anyone who reaches out. (Emily Benson photo)
Noelle Marie, victim assistance coordinator for the Albany Diocese’s Office of Safe Environment, is the initial point of contact for anyone reporting abuse by clergy or religious members in the Albany Diocese. Marie is also an open ear to any victim/survivor calling to talk, where she can “listen and be present” with anyone who reaches out. (Emily Benson photo)

By Emily Benson | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

It takes great empathy to listen openly to someone’s hardest battles in life. Good thing Noelle Marie is on the job.

Amiable and adept in her work, Marie started this February as the new victim assistance coordinator for the Albany Diocese’s Office of Safe Environment. The role makes Marie the initial point of contact for anyone reporting abuse by clergy or religious members in the Albany Diocese.

“I’m walking them through the process of making the report and accompanying them through the process,” Marie told The Evangelist. 

The diocesan Office of Safe Environment also serves as a resource to victim/survivors of abuse, families and children, parish volunteers and staff, focusing on listening to their stories, being a resource for victim/survivors, their families or their parish, and helping to accompany anyone who seeks help with their path to healing. 

For Marie, the past few months in the office have brought around 10 phone calls from victim/survivors. The calls vary from voicing concerns about the church to wanting to find a path to healing, but each case requires Marie to listen and offer support. 

“We’ve had several people call and want to talk to the Bishop (Edward B. Scharfenberger) for different reasons,” she said. “I think to express their dissatisfaction with the business end of things, or some are missing their church and want to claim it back and are looking to speak to a spiritual father to start that process. For some, it’s not the type of thing you can talk to family and friends about.”

Marie joined just a month before the Albany Diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as a result of the sexual abuse cases brought forward by the Child Victims Act (CVA). The Diocese filed on March 15, becoming the fifth of the eight dioceses in New York to file.

While there hasn’t been a large influx in phone calls from the filing, she said, more victim/survivors have reached out to talk through the church’s decision to file.

“What I’m hearing from victims is it triggers trauma for them,” Marie said, adding that the healing many survivors are reaching out for is part of an ongoing process. “There’s no, ‘Oh, you’re healed!’ It’s fluid; you go up and down … so people are reaching out and they want to be heard. They’re in different places in their journey to healing and trying to negotiate those emotions.”

Marie added that she tries “to listen and be present for a lot of them. If there’s something concrete I can do, like set up a meeting with the Bishop, that’s what I do.”

Last month, Marie set up a meeting between a victim/survivor and Bishop Scharfenberger to chat. To her, it felt like “a good thing to see.”

“The Bishop was very good at listening to the survivor, and he was very willing to hear whatever he had to say,” Marie said. The Bishop “wasn’t worried about defending the church and is very committed to being a spiritual father, and the survivor was very well spoken and at a place in his healing where he could speak, and felt he could speak for other survivors, and that gave him some healing that he could do that.

“Not everybody can do it,” Marie added, “you have to be in a place where you are OK with yourself, and there’s a lot of damage to people’s self worth in this process they go through. So it’s hard to be seen, much less heard.”

Born and raised in Schenectady, Marie attended parochial school at St. Luke’s Church with her older sister. She obtained an associate’s degree in performing arts from Schenectady County Community College and a bachelor’s in psychology from SUNY Albany. 

For 14 years, Marie worked as a caseworker for Schenectady County Child Protective Services (CPS) and Adult Protective Services (APS). For the past five years she worked for Catholic Charities as a long-term care ombudsman, ensuring clients are receiving safe, high-quality care.

Marie knows the work she does can be taxing, but for her, it’s something she can handle: “We’re all called to do certain things, and I’m kind of thick-skinned. The Holy Spirit has to really push me” to get under it, she said.

“I think I always had a passion for why people behave how they behave,” she added, “and I always had a soft spot for helping people and wanting to heal people.”

For questions, or to speak with Noelle Marie, email [email protected] or call (518) 453-6646.


Comments:

You must login to comment.

250 X 250 AD
250 X 250 AD

Events

April

SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
31
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
28
29
30
1
2
3
4
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.

250 X 250 AD