Courageous Conversations

Courageous Conversations is an ongoing speaker series hosted by Awake Milwaukee to build community, deepen understanding, encourage conversation, and inspire action in response to the complex issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Our third season of Courageous Conversations concluded in May 2023; our fourth season will begin in September 2023. You can view all of Awake’s past Courageous Conversations recordings below.

Season Three: 2022-2023

March 2023 –
Face-to-Face and Heart-to-Heart: Fr. Hans Zollner in Conversation with Survivors

Fr. Hans Zollner, Director of the Safeguarding Institute of the Pontifical Gregorian University, speaks with two survivors of clergy abuse, Esther Harber and Mike Koplinka-Loehr.

MAY 2023 –
a Shared Struggle: What Can We Learn from other Faith Traditions about Addressing Abuse?

Sara Larson in conversation with Dr. Guila Benchimol, Maureen Garcia, and Nadiah Mohajir on their expertise working in Jewish, Protestant, and Muslim contexts.

January 2023 –
Family Matters: How Abuse Wounds the loved ones of victim-survivors

Letitia Peyton, Peter Schiessl, and Jerri von den Bosch–family members of survivors of clergy abuse–reflect on their experiences and work for change and healing.

September 2022 –
What I Want Catholics to Understand: A Conversation with Abuse Survivors

Five victim-survivors with diverse experiences shared reflections on their experience of abuse, addressed common misconceptions, and answered audience questions.

November 2022 –
Erased From the Narrative: The Role of Racism in the Abuse CrisiS

Expert panelists Jeremy Cruz, Fr. Bryan Massingale, and Maka Black Elk discussed the ways racism impacts the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Season TWO: 2021-2022

May 2022 –
Trauma and Resilience in the Body of Christ

Deborah Rodriguez, MD and Regina Boyd, LMFT offered their expertise in an informative and encouraging discussion about the realities of trauma as well as the phenomenon of post-traumatic growth. Audience members particularly appreciated the personal stories and practical tips shared by these panelists.

March 2022 –

In a Church that often silences the voices of abuse survivors, how can we chart a new path forward, one that centers these voices and the wisdom they offer? Survivors Jerry McGlone, S.J., and Paula Kaempffer shared their own powerful stories of healing from clergy sexual abuse and guidance for listening well to those who have been harmed..

January 2022 –

Awake was honored to host three prestigious panelists for this powerful event – Walter Robinson, who led the Boston Globe Spotlight team, Jason Berry, who began writing about abuse in the Church almost 20 years earlier, and Anne Barrett Doyle, who was moved to action by the Spotlight reports and now co-directs

November 2021 –
What Can I DO? Lay Leaders Responding to the abuse Crisis with Creativity and Compassion

Four panelists from varying backgrounds and perspectives spoke about the circumstances that moved them to action and the unique approach they have each taken to address the issue of abuse in the Catholic Church. The small group discussions in Part Two encouraged each participant to consider what steps they might take next.

September 2021 –

On the first evening of our new two-part event format, Dr. Marcus Mescher shared a thought-provoking presentation on moral injury, conscience, and the path to healing for our Church. In Part Two, members of the Awake Community from many locations and perspectives gathered for lively small group conversations on the topic.

Season ONE: 2020-2021

May 2021 –
Understanding the Wisconsin Attorney General Investigation

As part of Awake’s effort to support WI Catholics during the investigation into sexual abuse by clergy and faith leaders, we hosted a panel of survivors and experts to help us become better informed. Tune in to hear from the Fortney sisters, as well as retired WI Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske and theologian Patrick Hornbeck.

April 2021 –
telling NaTe’s Story,
With Special Guest Aaron Lindstrom

We greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the life and legacy of clergy abuse victim Nate Lindstrom – and to hear the honest, challenging words his brother Aaron shared with us: “It’s about time that we as Catholics fix the problem. I feel like we have the power to do that.” We hope you will join Awake in being part of the solution!

March 2021 –
It’s Not Only Children:
Addressing Abuse of Adults in the Catholic Church

This was an powerful conversation, thanks to the wisdom of our three wonderful panelists – Paula Kaempffer, Dr. David Pooler, and Esther Harber. We are grateful to each of these speakers for the unique perspective and insight they shared, and especially to Esther for trusting us with her story.

February 2021 –
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACTS OF TRAUMA AND building trauma-sensitive parishes, with Dr. Stephen Saunders

Thank you to psychologist Dr. Stephen Saunders of Marquette University for his informative presentation on this important topic. (Don’t miss the comments from survivors immediately following Dr. Saunders’ presentation!).

January 2021 –
The Women Who Spoke Out: A Survivor, A Colleague, and An Advocate Share Their Story of
Exposing David Haas’s Abuse

We were honored to lift up the voices of Margaret Hillman, Laurie Delgatto-Whitten, and Dr. Stephanie Krehbiel in this important dialogue. Please take the time to listen and share with others, particularly anyone you know in Catholic music ministry.

December 2020 –
The McCarrick Report, Clerical Culture, and A Path to Change, with Fr. Daniel Griffith

Thank you to everyone who participated in the inaugural event in our Courageous Conversations online speaker series! We are grateful to Fr. Dan for the thought-provoking presentation that launched our first season of this popular series.