Support group available for abuse victims

Published: March 10, 2020

Find a Maria Goretti Network Meeting

Click on the button above to find details about meetings. The next one will be held April 4 at St. Joseph Spiritan Center on the campus of St. Joseph Church in Conway, which is located at 1115 College Ave. For more information, e-mail or visit the Maria Goretti Network website.

Last fall, the Diocese of Little Rock started a chapter of the Maria Goretti Network (MGN) for those who have been affected by any type of abuse and need love and support. It doesn’t matter if the abuse was physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual or mental. 

Support group meetings are held at 10 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month at the St. Joseph Spiritan Center in Conway. The next meeting will be April 4. See complete schedule.

This ministry is named after St. Maria Gorettithe patron saint of abused children and rape victims. Alessandro Serenelli tried to rape her when she was 11 years old. He then stabbed her 14 times and fled. Before she died from her injuries in 1902, she forgave him. While he was in prison, Maria appeared to him in a dream, which led to his conversion. St. Maria was canonized in 1950. 

Miguel Prats, an abuse survivor, and Father Gavin Vaverek, JCL, founded MGN in 2004 to help offer healing within the Catholic Church for anyone who has been abused. Although the ministry is Catholic, it is open to anyone who has been abused. Read Arkansas Catholic to learn more.

MGN meetings, which are led by two lay leaders who have suffered past abuse, last 90 minutes and include time for prayer, introductions, personal sharing among men’s and women’s small groups and group discussion on healing and forgiveness. To learn more about the meetings, principles and ground rules, visit the websiteFor more information about the Arkansas chapter, please e-mail