Daily Journal staff report
JOLIET — Bishop of Joliet Ronald A. Hicks has announced the appointment of Leah McCluskey Heffernan as the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Joliet. The appointment is effective Dec. 1.
Heffernan moves over from the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she was the director of the Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review in the Archdiocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth.
“The protection of children and young people is the highest priority of our Church,” Hicks said. “Ms. Heffernan brings nearly two decades of experience serving victims and their families in a child protection ministry that has set national standards. We are pleased to have attracted such an accomplished and compassionate leader to the Diocese of Joliet.”
As director, Heffernan will supervise the diocesan victim assistance coordinator and ensure all incoming allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Church employees or volunteers are properly received and handled according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and state laws. In addition, she will serve as staff to the Diocesan Review Committee.
In 2002, Heffernan joined the Archdiocese of Chicago, where she received allegations, interviewed victim-survivors and interacted with civil authorities. She conducted investigation of allegations and served as the staff liaison to the Archdiocese Independent Review Board.
A native of Oak Park, Heffernan is licensed social worker in State of Illinois. She holds a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from North Park University, a master’s in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Illinois State University. She is a member of the Lake County Sexual Assault Coordinating Council.
The Diocese of Joliet serves about 617,000 Catholics in 118 parishes and seven missions in Illinois’ DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall and Will counties.