Parish Safety Measures

July 2022

In light of the recent shootings, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the continued heightened threat environment across the United States.

We would like to emphasize that there have been no direct threats received; however, in light of these events, we want to encourage all parishes to elevate their awareness. The DHS continues to assess that the primary threat of mass casualty violence in the United States stems from lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances.

Please pay attention to any activity that may be considered unusual or suspicious in nature and report it immediately. In addition, if you have not already done so, we urge you to revisit your emergency plans and procedures. Be sure to review and practice the plans and security protocols with parish volunteers and staff, especially recent hires.

Learn how to recognize the signs of pre-operational planning associated with terrorism or other criminal activity and contact authorities if you notice any of the behaviors. The Department of Homeland Security has identified the following behaviors to watch out for. Please share this information with your volunteers and staff:

  • Breach/Attempted Intrusion: Look out for unauthorized persons attempting to enter or actually entering a restricted area or non-public area.
  • Misrepresentation: Report individuals who try to present false information in order to misrepresent their identity.
  • Photography: Be aware of individuals taking pictures or videos of persons, facilities, buildings, or infrastructure in an unusual or surreptitious manner.
  • Observation/Surveillance: Take note of individuals demonstrating unusual or prolonged interest in facilities, buildings, or infrastructure beyond mere casual (e.g., tourists) or professional interest. Examples include observation through binoculars, taking notes, or attempting to mark off or measure distances.
  • Eliciting information: Take note of a person questioning individuals or otherwise soliciting information at a level beyond mere curiosity about a particular facet of a facility or building’s purpose, operations, or security procedures. For example, be on alert if someone asks about Mass attendance, i.e., which Mass time is most popular, etc.

In addition, please follow these general safety tips:

  • Immediately report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement or public safety officials who are best positioned to respond and offer specific details on terroristic indicators. Once reported to the authorities, please notify the Office of Risk Management.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Whether walking the grounds of your parish or arriving to/departing from the office, try not to be tempted by your phone and other distractions. Be aware of other individuals or objects that may seem out of place, or doors that are typically closed that may be propped open. Please remind parishioners, volunteers, and staff to never prop exterior doors open and to be certain (exterior) doors lock securely when closed.
  • Be aware of unattended packages, especially those that have the following characteristics: 1.) Looks out of place in a particular location, such as a suitcase at a non-airport bus or train station 2.) Is located in an out-of-the-way place where it is not readily visible; 3.) Matches something described in a reported threat or has a threatening note attached; 4.) Has visible wires, batteries, a clock or timer, bottles, tanks or bag attached; 5.) Is abandoned by someone quickly leaving the area; 6.) Is emitting an odor, mist, or oily liquid, or leaking a powdery substance.
  • When in populated places, be responsible for your personal safety. Make a mental note of emergency exits and locations of the nearest security personnel. Have an evacuation plan in place when you enter a new space.
  • Keep cell phones in your pockets instead of bags or on tables so you don’t lose them during an incident.
  • Carry emergency contact details and any special needs information with you at all times.

Parish Safety and Security Committees

If you have not yet established a parish safety and security committee, now is the time. If you need assistance, please contact or call 617-833-0811. We have templates you can use to help you get started, as well as webinars and other resources. In addition, we will be hosting Parish Safety webinars in the coming months. The first webinar is scheduled for July 20 at 1:00 pm. To register, please go to:

Training and Resources

If you are interested in hosting or attending a regional Active Shooter Response Training, or if you would like a copy of our Parish Safety and Security Guide, please contact We are working on an online training program that will be available in the coming weeks.

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