Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington
55 Joy Drive, South Burlington, VT 05403     802-658-6110

Contact Information

Kevin P. Scully
ext. 1218
F: (802) 658-0436

Emily Sleeper
ext. 1219
F: (802) 658-0436

Hope Kennedy
ext. 1203
F: (802) 658-0436

Frequently Asked Questions:



Since the implementation of the Safe and Sacred program, the Office of Safe Environment Programs has received some questions from our users about the program and the new background check forms. For your convenience, we compiled a list of these commonly asked questions and answered them for you!


Safe and Sacred FAQ  -  VIRTUS FAQ -  Background Screening FAQ

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also has their own list of frequently asked questions,
click here to take a look.

Safe and Sacred FAQ

• What can you tell me about the new Safe and Sacred online training program? 

Safe and Sacred is an online training program designed to streamline the important child safety elements for the attendees and the leaders responsible for a school, parish, or other organization.    

By participating online in the Safe and Sacred program, volunteers/employees will:

•  Receive their safe environment training (annually for those directly involved with children and/or in positions of trust and authority, every five years for those who are not)

•  Complete their background screening form (every five years)

•  Read the Diocesan Policies on Ethics and Integrity in Ministry (every five years)

•  Sign the Code of Conduct (annually)

Up to this point, local administrators have had to keep track of who needs to re-complete their background screening and re-sign their Code of Conduct.  They’ve also reminded folks when they are falling behind in their VIRTUS training.

Once a volunteer/employee takes Safe and Sacred online, the program will automatically remind people when it is time for new training, a new background screening, or a new signing of the Code of Conduct.   The local parish or school administrator can see if all of the individuals at his/her location are in compliance with safety pieces, and will know when they have completed screening, training, and the annual Code of Conduct.


• What courses will be offered through Safe and Sacred? 

For volunteers/employees working with children, the course cycle is currently as follows:

Year One:  Recognizing Child Abuse

Year Two:  Professional Boundaries and Behaviors

Year Three:  Internet Safety

Year Four:  Bullying: The Golden Rule Solution

Year Five:  Teaching Children for Volunteers


Cycle repeats for next five years…

For volunteers/employees who are not working with children and not in positions of authority, the course Serving Vulnerable Populations will be offered which combines material from the courses Recognizing Child Abuse, Professional Boundaries and Behaviors, and Protecting Vulnerable Adults. The course Serving Vulnerable Populations will be taken once every five years


• Do I have to complete my Safe and Sacred training in one sitting?

No, you do not have to complete your Safe and Sacred training in one sitting. If you chose to stop your training and finish it at a later time, you may do so and you will be able to return to the last page you saw. You will not need to complete previous training pages to return to where you left off on the course. But if you do decide to take breaks from your training, please remember to return to the Safe and Sacred website to complete all of your training requirements. If you do not fully complete your course, you will not be eligible for a Certificate of Completion!

• I finished my Background Screening Application and my training, but I did not receive my Certificate of Completion. Where is my Certificate of Completion?

That’s a good question! After someone has submitted their background check and completed their training, they will receive an email with their Certificate of Completion AFTER the Office of Safe Environment Programs has processed their background through the state screening systems. The processing of your forms may take 1-2 weeks as the Office of Safe Environment Programs must wait for your screening results to appear in our screening system. The processing of your forms cannot be expedited, so please be patient when it comes to receiving your Certificate of Completion. You will receive an email notification once your Certificate of Completion has been issued!

In summary, getting the Certificates does not come instantly after course completion but comes a week or two later once the background has been approved. REMEMBER: In order to receive a Certificate of Completion, the course must be completed and the background must be submitted (neither component must be missing).


• Do I have to print off my Certificate of Completion?

No, you are not required to print off your Certificate of Completion. When you receive your Certificate, your name is automatically added to an online database of individuals who have completed their training and background check requirements. The Certificate of Completion is for your own use and you may print it at your leisure, if you desire.  

• Does Safe and Sacred have monthly bulletins like VIRTUS?

Instead of monthly training bulletins, there will be quarterly newsletters to read.  These will have general information on keeping the children in your environment safe.  While these will be much like the VIRTUS bulletins, there are a few key differences:

They are not required.  Highly suggested?  Yes!  Required? No.
There are no multiple choice questions at the end.
They are quarterly rather than monthly.





• Is my VIRTUS/Shield the Vulnerable account linked to Safe and Sacred? Can I use my old VIRTUS/Shield the Vulnerable log in information with Safe and Sacred?

Your VIRTUS/Shield the Vulnerable log in information is NOT linked to Safe and Sacred. To enroll in the Safe and Sacred courses, you need to create a new account on the Safe and Sacred website. You may use the same username and password that you chose to use for your VIRTUS/Shield the Vulnerable account, but your Safe and Sacred account will not be connected to these former accounts in any way.

• Once I have completed my Safe and Sacred training, do I still need to complete the VIRTUS monthly bulletins?

Once you have completed your Safe and Sacred training your DO NOT have to continue completing the VIRTUS monthly bulletins. You may read them if you wish, but you may also ignore them once you have completed your Safe and Sacred training.


• Once I take Safe and Sacred, how do I close my VIRTUS and/or Shield the Vulnerable account?

Once you have completed your Safe and Sacred training your DO NOT have to continue completing the VIRTUS monthly bulletins. You may read them if you wish, but you may also ignore them once you have completed your Safe and Sacred training.


• What should I do with my old VIRTUS materials now that the program is being phased out?

If You Are A Volunteer or an Employee…
If you are a volunteer or employee with VIRTUS materials (folders, notes, etc.) and you feel as though you will find the handout materials useful in the future, however, please feel free to retain them.  (Otherwise, please recycle!)

We do ask that you only utilize these materials for personal use if you choose to keep them.  The VIRTUS program is copyrighted and we want to be sure to respect their right to their materials.

If You Are A VIRTUS Facilitator…
If you are one of our fabulous VIRTUS facilitators, you should return the training materials to the Diocese at your leisure.  After January of 2016, none of the facilitators of the Diocese of Burlington will be leading sessions and VIRTUS has requested that we store the old facilitator materials at the Diocese for copyright reasons.



Background Check

• I want to take my Safe and Sacred training online but I do not want to fill out my Background Screening Application online. Is this possible?

Yes, this is definitely possible. After you register as a new user on the Safe and Sacred website, you will be directed to a webpage that prompts you to fill out your background check. This webpage will contain special instructions for filling out your background check forms, and it will indicate that you may fill out these forms online OR print them and mail/fax the completed forms to the Office of Safe Environment Programs. Follow the instructions on this page to complete you background forms offline while still completing your training online.


• I just recently submitted my background check within the last few years; do I need to resubmit my background check even though I am not up for my five year renewal yet?

 Good question! With the adoption of the Safe and Sacred program, the Office of Safe Environment Programs is establishing a new database of all of the employees and volunteers throughout the Diocese of Burlington. This means that we are encouraging everyone to complete their new background check alongside their Safe and Sacred training to help us build up this new database. Even if you are not up for your five year background check renewal, you are strongly encouraged to submit a new background check. The new Diocesan background forms are linked to the Safe and Sacred training website, so to complete your background check, please register as a new user on the Safe and Sacred website.


• Who should receive a background check and safe environment training?

As you may already know, all priests, deacons, Catholic school teachers, catechists, aides, employees and volunteers should undergo a criminal background check and participate in child safety training. In February of 2014, the requirement for a background check and child safety training was extended to lectors, ushers, Eucharistic ministers, choir members, collection counters, maintenance personnel, and all paid employees throughout the Diocese of Burlington. As individuals who represent the Church publically, especially in the eyes of a child, these individuals are trusted adults and thus require screening and training.

Following the adoption of Safe and Sacred as the new child safety program for adults in September 2015, the Office of Safe Environment Programs strongly encourages all employees and volunteers working in ANY capacity in the Diocese of Burlington to undergo a full and complete background check in addition to taking Safe and Sacred training. Any conflicts with suggestion should be addressed with the Office of Safe Environment Programs where instruction will be provided regarding how to proceed.  


• Why is a background check and child safety training required of individuals who don’t interact with children or youth regularly in the parish, such as lectors or ushers?

While many of these individuals do not interact with children on a regular basis, they represent the Church as they serve in trusted roles and are familiar faces within the parish and the broader community.  Because of the trust invested in them and because of the significance of what they represent, these individuals are also required to undergo background checks.  In doing so, they confirm that they are appropriate for the ministries they undertake and simultaneously witness to their participation in the Church’s overarching mission to keep the most vulnerable among us safe.


• I am a student employee/volunteer (under the age of 18). Do I need to take the Safe and Sacred training or undergo a background screening?

With the onset of these new changes in adult training and screening, the Office of Safe Environment Programs is also making small changes to how we keep track of student volunteers/employees at parishes and Catholic schools. If you are a minor, you are NOT required to take Safe and Sacred training nor complete the background check forms as long as you are being directly supervised by an adult. Please contact the Safe Environment Local Coordinator where you are volunteering and/or employed and provide them with the following information: Your full name, date of birth, location (parish/Catholic School), and your role (Catechist, Lector, Usher, Classroom Aide, etc.) You must also sign the Code of Conduct, and you can acquire a paper version of the document from your parish/Catholic school. The Safe Environment Local Coordinator at your location will record this information, keep your Code of Conduct on file, and send it along your information to the Office of Safe Environment Programs in order to keep records updated. 


• Doesn’t this take a lot of time and effort?

While the time involved for any role or position sometimes proves to be a challenge in the bustle of daily life, these individuals express their commitment to the dignity and safety of children by filling out the necessary forms, taking classes in person and/or completing ongoing training online.  In doing so, they not only benefit the children and youth in their parish community but all those they interact with in the various community structures of everyday life.  The Catholic Church’s answer to the question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” strives to be a resounding “Yes!”

A child is always worth the time and effort.

Physical Address:
55 Joy Drive - South Burlington, VT 05403
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Contact Numbers:
Telephone: 802-658-6110

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