In observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, St. Hilary Church in Pico Rivera hosted a special “Family Fun Night” celebration on April 20 to help promote family togetherness, and to raise funds for a local charity that provides assistance for abuse victims.Attended by scores of parishioners and community members, the parish event was part of a month-long campaign to increase awareness about preventing physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children. Organized by St. Hilary’s Safeguard the Children committee, the evening celebration featured music, food, carnival-style games and prizes, guest speakers and an information table providing local community resources for children and families in need.“Unfortunately, child abuse is something that does exist in all communities. However, the unity [we share] and the love that we give each other, [together with] education, can help prevent it from happening,” said guest speaker Gustavo Camacho, the current mayor of Pico Rivera and a parishioner at St. Hilary’s. “There’s no excuse for abuse.”“I’m the father of three beautiful girls who have all the love of the world, but there are children of all ages who do not get that same love,” he continued. “But your love, your commitment, your passion, and your willingness to help others [are] what we need in our community to help make a difference.” According to Joan Vienna, coordinator of the archdiocesan Office of Safeguard the Children, which provides education, training and resources to help prevent child abuse and promote safety in parishes, schools and communities, an increasing number of parishes across the archdiocese are participating in the annual National Child Abuse Prevention Month. St. John the Evangelist Church in Los Angeles presented a month of activities that included an essay and poster contest; St. Joseph Church in Hawthorne also hosted a poster contest; and Incarnation Church in Glendale hosted a “Healing Service for Victims/Survivors.” Other special events and educational efforts at churches and parish schools have included a children’s walk-a-thon, a “living rosary,” distribution of the 2013 “Working Together to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse” archdiocesan brochure and other materials, and lighting candles for victims/survivors at the start of each Mass during the month of April.“I am so proud of the efforts of the Safeguard the Children committee members, which include parents, laypeople, clergy and parish and school staff,” Vienna told The Tidings. “They really understand the vision of what we are doing to protect our children and young people from abuse, and are enthusiastically finding new and creative ways to celebrate this wonderful ministry. I think this is one of the most important ministries in our Church today.”According to Mia Jilk, a member of St. Hilary’s Safeguard the Children committee and coordinator of Children’s Faith Formation for the parish, finding inventive ways to help keep children safe has been a community-wide effort. For example, the city of Pico Rivera provided the use of a stage for the recent “Family Fun Night,” and local restaurants and businesses contributed free food, beverages and children’s prizes for the celebration.“We have strong ties to the local community and together we want to make it a better and safer place for everyone, especially for the children,” Jilk told The Tidings. “We are trying to address the important issue of child abuse prevention in the most positive way.”Melissa Mier, a Safeguard the Children committee member and parish secretary at St. Hilary’s, expressed immense gratitude for all the donations and support from the community. “Without their help, we wouldn’t have been able to pull all of this together,” said Mier. In addition to observing Child Abuse Prevention Month, St. Hilary’s Safeguard the Children committee also works to support general parish safety measures year-round — including raising funds for the planned installation of safety lights for the church parking lot and for a gate that will surround the perimeter of the school.“The prevention can’t stop here, the awareness of other safety concerns can’t stop here,” she continued. “We are trying to take it many steps further all year long, not only in April.”For resources and information on preventing the abuse of children, contact the Office of Safeguard the Children, (213) 637-7227 or visit For particular help, you may call Assistance Ministry, (213) 637-7650.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0426/hilary/{/gallery}