Who We Are

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People specifically created the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and assigned to it three central tasks:

  • To assist each diocese and eparchy in implementing "Safe Environment" programs designed to ensure necessary safety and security for all children as they participate in church and religious activities
  • To develop an appropriate compliance audit mechanism to assist the Bishops and Eparchs in adhering to the responsibilities set forth in the Charter
  • To prepare a public, annual report describing the compliance of each diocese and eparchy to the Charter's provisions

The Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection is a resource for dioceses/eparchies for implementing safe environment programs and for suggesting training and development of diocesan personnel responsible for child and youth protection programs; taking into account the financial and other resources, as well as the population, and demographics of the diocese/eparchy. The Secretariat produces an annual report on the progress made in implementing and maintaining the standards in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People following an annual audit process. The report is public and includes the names of dioceses/eparchies that the audit shows are not in compliance with the provisions and expectations of the Charter.


Committee Members

Committee Members

Membership of the Bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People (CPCYP) includes the following bishops as well as the region he represents:

Most Reverend Barry Knestout
Bishop of Richmond

Region I
Most Reverend Mark O'Connell

Auxiliary Bishop of Boston

Region II
Most Reverend John S. Bonnici
Auxiliary Bishop of New York

Region III
Most Reverend Larry J. Kulick, J.C.L.
Bishop of Greensburg

Region IV
Most Reverend Adam Parker
Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore

Region V
Most Reverend John C. Iffert
Bishop of Covington

Region VI
Most Reverend David J. Bonnar
Bishop of Youngstown

Region VII
Most Reverend Jeffrey S. Grob
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago

Region VIII
Most Reverend Daniel Felton
Bishop of Duluth

Region IX
Most Reverend Joseph G. Hanefeldt
Bishop of Grand Island

Region X
Most Reverend David A. Konderla
Bishop of Tulsa

Region XI
Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan
Bishop of Fresno

Region XII
Most Reverend Frank Schuster
Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle

Region XIII
Most Reverend Edward J. Weisenburger
Bishop of Tucson

Region XIV
Most Reverend John Nhan Tran
Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

Region XV
Most Reverend Joy Alappat
Bishop of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago 

Secretariat Staff

Executive Director: Deacon Bernie Nojadera has served in the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection since 2011. Formerly, he served as Director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults with the Diocese of San Jose, California, from 2002-2011. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Joseph College, Mountain View, California; a Master of Social Work degree specializing in health and mental health services from San Jose State University; and a Master of Arts in theology from St. Patrick’s Seminary and University, Menlo Park, California. He has been a member of the San Jose Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the County of Santa Clara Interfaith Clergy Task Force on the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and the County of Santa Clara Task Force on Suicide Prevention. He enjoys offering national and international workshops/training on safe environment/victim accompaniment, safeguarding, HRO (high reliability organization) principles, and topics on leadership and communication. He is married and has two adult children.

Associate Director: Molly Fara joined USCCB staff in September 2020 after serving 8 years as the first Director of Child and Youth Protection for the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Dayton, Ohio with a major in psychology and minor in criminal justice.  Molly earned a Master's degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is recognized as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has a Professional Educator License with School Social Work Endorsement. Prior work experience includes psychiatric hospital, in-patient/out-patient substance abuse treatment, residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed youth, adult protective services and employee assistance programs.  She has been married for over 25 years and has four adult children.

Coordinator of Communications and Resources: Silvina Cerezo joined the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in May of 2023.  She began working for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2018, in the Department of Migration and Refugee Services as a Program Associate and later was promoted to the Secretariat of Divine Worship as a Multicultural Specialist.  A native of Argentina, where she studied Latin, Spanish literature, and linguistics among other subjects, she lived in Dublin, Ireland for several years where she deepened her knowledge of English.  After arriving in the United States, Silvina completed a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and continued her education as a non-degree student at the Dominican House of Studies, also in Washington, DC. She has been married for thirteen years.

Executive Assistant: Laura Garner joined the staff of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection on January 3, 2011.  Previously, Ms. Garner served as a Staff Assistant in the Office of the General Counsel with the USCCB since 2008. Ms. Garner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Loyola College in Baltimore and a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from George Washington University in Washington D.C.  Before joining the USCCB, she worked at home as a medical transcriptionist while raising four children. She has been married for thirty-seven years and has four beautiful grandchildren.