Humility, integrity and dedication are attributes that describe three familiar faces at the Diocese of Norwich Bishop Flanagan Ministry Center who retired this summer with a combined 37 years of service to the diocese.
The retirees are Karen Caise, director of the Office of Safe Environments, her database coordinator Randy Bouley, and Susan Underhill, campaign manager for the Diocesan Office of Development.
Caise began her work as OSE director in May 2010 with 18 years of experience owning two childcare centers in Ledyard, Connecticut. Before that she was a research scientist for 10 years at Pfizer in Groton.
Bouley joined the department in 2012 to provide operational support. Before that, she retired from Pfizer after 33 years as a scientist manager.
The Office of Safe Environments oversees the background screening and training of all diocesan volunteers who work with minors, as well as all clergy, religious and diocesan employees. It produces safe environment policies for the diocese and manages diocesan compliance of safe environment training and screening protocols. In addition, it coordinates audits mandated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to ensure that the diocese complies with the provisions of the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Both women said they are proud of their efforts to streamline OSE procedures to make them more efficient, cost effective and user friendly for parishes, schools and institutions. They are particularly proud of their work last year in modifying and implementing the No Go Tell safe environment curriculum for children in parish faith formation programs. Both women hope their efforts will empower children to become more aware of their environments and advocate for themselves in all types of situations. “Our goal is that the mantra No Go Tell will be as familiar to children as the fire-protection mantra ‘Stop, Drop and Roll,’” Caise said.
Caise and Bouley said they will miss their co-workers and employees at diocesan parishes who have always supported the work of the OSE to protect diocesan youth. Both praised the guidance the OSE has received over the years from Father Richard Ricard and Father Brian Romanowski, who have served, at different times, as Bishop Michael Cote’s delegate to the OSE. Caise also acknowledged Bishop Cote for his ongoing support and affirmation of the OSE’s mission.
Father Brian, the bishop’s current delegate for OSE, congratulated both Caise and Bouley on a well-deserved retirement. “You have dedicated many years in service of God’s people in the Diocese of Norwich, particularly in the protection of children and young people,” he said. “Your organizational skills have ensured that the clergy, employees, and volunteers working and ministering in our diocese have been background-screened and trained and our children educated through the revised No Go Tell curriculum. You have performed this important and difficult work maintaining safe environments within our parishes, school and ministries with good humor, persistence, and grace that I have very much appreciated and will miss.”
Underhill joined the Diocesan Development Office in December 2000 as a part-time worker handling the billing for the Annual Catholic Appeal. She moved to full-time work in various positions of increasing responsibility within that department before being named campaign manager in 2016. The development office oversees all major fundraising campaigns for the diocese.
“I have always enjoyed the work I have done for the diocese, the incredible people I have had the opportunity to work with, and the donors I have met throughout the years,” Underhill said. “This has been a great place to work for me. I have always felt that the church cared about its employees and that the work we accomplished was valued and appreciated.”
Mary Ellen Mahoney, executive development director, praised Underhill for her outstanding work ethic and dedication to the department.
“Sue is passionate about helping people both in and out of the office,” Mahoney said. “Through her community garden, supporting the soup kitchen, membership on her local library board and all her church activities, Sue lives a life of faith and love of others. As the face of the Annual Catholic Appeal, working hard to support all our diocesan ministries, Sue has truly touched the lives of many. While we will miss her dearly, we are happy that she will now be able to enjoy a long, fulfilling retirement.”
-- By Mary-Jo McLaughlin, Catholic Family Services
Photos:Top left, Sue Underhill; Bottom right, Randy Bouley, left, and Karen Caise