Conference: Vulnerable Persons in Canon Law and Pastoral Life - Saint John's Seminary
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Conference: Vulnerable Persons in Canon Law & Pastoral Life

July 21st, 2022

09:00 am

On behalf of Saint John’s Seminary, The Very Rev. Stephen E. Salocks, ‘80, Rector, invites the clergy of New England (priests and deacons) along with parish Pastoral Associates and lay Canon Lawyers on Thursday, July 21 for a one-day conference on “Vulnerable Persons in Canon Law and Pastoral Ministry.” Through presentations, working groups, and informal conversation, attendees will develop a clearer understanding of who “vulnerable persons” are and what strategies best help priests to serve them.

Included in the conference fee are the following:

  • Three presentations, including a keynote address by the Most Reverend Mark O’Connell, JCD, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston
  • Working groups to discuss specific pastoral practices
  • Morning prayer and Mass
  • Breakfast, lunch, and a concluding barbecue

Registration is open, to register, click the button below.

Fee: $99.00 per participant

Register Today


  • Breakfast: 8:00am
  • Morning Prayer: 9:00am
  • Welcome and Introduction: 9:30am
  • Break: 10:00am
  • Keynote Presentation with Bishop Mark: 10:15am
  • Mass with Cardinal Sean O’Malley: 11:30am
  • Lunch: 12:15pm
  • Presentation by Admiral O’Toole: 1:00pm
  • Break: 1:45pm
  • Concluding Presentation with Patricia Neal, Director of the VIRTUS® Programs: 2:00pm
  • Barbecue: 3:00pm

Please note: All priests and deacons outside of the Archdiocese of Boston must provide a letter of suitability to the Office of Canonical Affairs at the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of Boston with a copy also sent to Saint John's Seminary:

Archdiocese of Boston
Office of Canonical Affairs
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184

Saint John's Seminary

127 Lake Street
Brighton, MA 02135

Most Reverend Mark O’Connell
Auxiliary Bishop of Boston
Keynote Speaker

Bishop Mark O’Connell undertook studies in canon law starting in 1997 at the Pontifical Athenaeum of the Holy Cross in Rome, completing his licentiate degree in 1999 and his doctorate in 2002. His dissertation was titled The Mobility of Secular Clerics and Incardination. After returning to Boston, he joined the canonical affairs staff of the archdiocese in 2001 and was appointed judicial vicar in 2007. From 2009 to 2012, Bishop O’Connell served as a senior consultor to the Canon Law Society of America. He has also served on the faculty of Saint John’s Seminary.

Rear Admiral Dan O’Toole

Chair of the Archdiocese Advisory Review Board for the protection of children

Rear Admiral Dan O’Toole is the retired Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Navy and is a former trial and appellate court judge. He has served in various roles involving the review and adjudication of crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse and harassment, including as staff counsel to the prosecutors during the Navy Tailhook scandal. At the senior staff level, he worked to establish policies and best practices to combat sexual abuse and harassment in the Navy. While serving as a trial judge, Dan presided over numerous sexual assault and murder cases. He later served as Chief Judge of the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals which reviews felony cases involving Navy and Marine Corps service members, including crimes of sexual assault. Following his 29 years of service in the Navy, Dan served as the Circuit Executive of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., until his retirement in 2016. Dan is currently a fourth-year candidate studying for the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Boston. He and his wife, Anne, are members of Mary Queen of Martyrs Parish (St. Peter’s Church) in Plymouth.

Patricia Neal

Director of the VIRTUS® Programs

Patricia Neal, M.S., serves as Director of the VIRTUS® Programs for National Catholic Services, LLC where she manages the daily interactions with dioceses, eparchies and religious communities, both nationally and internationally, that subscribe to the VIRTUS® programs. Ms. Neal participates in strategic planning, consults with clients, and manages ongoing projects for the VIRTUS Programs, including the development of training and risk management programs. The VIRTUS Programs assist the Church in being a safe haven for children and the vulnerable, and a messenger for preventing child sexual abuse within the Church and society in general.

Melanie Takinen as Assistant Director of the VIRTUS® Programs has been working within the field of child and youth protection since 2011. She began this career path with the Diocese of Phoenix as their Director of Safe Environment Training. After five years in that role, Melanie progressed to the national level working for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington DC, where she served as the Associate Director of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. Upon moving back to her home state of Arizona in August of 2020, Melanie began her role with the VIRTUS Programs as Assistant Director. Melanie has a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Education and Sociology, and a master’s degree in Psychology. She is married and is blessed with one son.