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Statement of Principles

To the Former Children of St. Joseph's Orphanage:

  1. As a community, we failed you when you most needed our support and care. You did not deserve what took place at the Orphanage; your lives were wrongly harmed and we need to make amends for this harm. We also have a responsibility to learn from your experiences so that children in Vermont do not suffer similar harm.

  2. Our core obligation is to listen to your stories and experiences. You know what took place at the Orphanage and the many ways that these experiences impacted your life. We believe you.

  3. There are no justifications for what took place at the Orphanage. There are also no excuses for the many ways that the community and those involved in operating the Orphanage ignored your neglect and abuse. Every child deserves protection, care and love.

  4. Everyone involved must accept responsibility for the harm that you experienced. This responsibility requires that we listen to you, honor your requests, and–to the best of our collective ability–make amends. 

  5. We owe it to all children, present and future, to not repeat the mistakes that were made with you and your families. We must learn from your experiences and wisdom to ensure that every child is protected, cared for, and nurtured.

We Commit Ourselves to:

  1. Respect: We will engage all participants with respect and dignity.

  2. Safety: We will support all participants fundamental right to feel safe.

  3. Inclusiveness: We will ensure that all participants have multiple opportunities to be heard and acknowledged.

  4. Equality: We will facilitate processes that ensure equal voice and experience.


To the Former Children of St. Joseph's Orphanage:

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 and will first establish connection and relationship, 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 regular group gatherings of former children from the Orphanage. The gatherings provide former children with an 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.

Winter 2021


Spring 2021


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