“We need to do a better job so that no other child goes through what I did. I didn’t have a childhood, I didn't have anyone who cared about me, I was alone raising myself”


Our Framework & Process:

The St. Joseph’s Restorative Inquiry operates within a restorative justice framework and takes direction from the former children of the Orphanage. The Inquiry is an organic and iterative process that first seeks to establish connection and relationships, and then explores key issues and identifies plans of action. These steps include:

  1. Connecting with former children of the Orphanage: The Restorative Inquiry will engage every former child of the of the Orphanage who wants to participate and have their voice heard; and is committed to offering multiple pathways for former children to engage in the process and share their stories.

  2. Organize Group Gatherings: The Restorative Inquiry organizes and facilitates weekly online gatherings of former children from the Orphanage. The gatherings provide participants with the opportunity to build mutual connection, share stories and experiences, and set the direction of the Inquiry.   

  3. Meeting with the Primary Responsible Institutions: St. Joseph’s Orphanage was managed and supervised by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vermont Catholic Charities, and the Sisters of Providence. The Orphanage was also part of a statewide system of child welfare and safety that included state agencies, police, and health care providers. The Restorative Inquiry will engage willing representatives from the different agencies and institutions and invite their participation and reflection.

  4. Restorative Dialogues: The Restorative Inquiry is committed to facilitate a series of restorative dialogues where responsible institutions have an opportunity to listen to, and learn from, former children of the Orphanage.

How We Operate

Background: In September 2018, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, the Burlington Police Department, the Vermont State Police, the Mayor of Burlington, and the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office established the St. Joseph’s Orphanage Task Force. The Task Force is mandated to investigate reports of abuse within the Orphanage, or committed by priests or others affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The Task Force is also mandated to support a fully independent Restorative Inquiry for victims, family members, and communities. 

Funding and Administration: The Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services has provided grant funding to the Burlington Community Justice Center to oversee this initiative.

Staffing: The Burlington Community Justice Center contracted consultant, Marc Wennberg, to independently facilitate the design and implementation of the restorative inquiry. 

The St. Joseph’s Orphanage Restorative Inquiry Advisory Team: The Restorative Inquiry is guided and supported by an Advisory Team, which meets monthly. The team is comprised of former residents, victim advocates, restorative justice practitioners, system stakeholders, and others.