2012 Annual Report – Christian Family Life

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2012 Annual Report
Christian Family Life
Margaret Ann Jacobs

This report reflects the activities reported by all provincial chairpersons of Christian family life and acknowledges and affirms the dedicated efforts of those who touched the lives of others with their love, faith and generosity.

Marriage and family
Councils collected and shared information concerning marriage and family, particularly accessing Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) resources. Special events were hosted to celebrate the family (family rosary, movie nights, retreats, masses and dinners) and special anniversaries and milestones for married couples and their children were recognized. Members assisted with marriage preparation courses, engaged encounters, natural family planning presentations, Theology of the Body, parenting courses and educational programs highlighting the value of prayer and the importance of family-based activities. Members were encouraged to play an active role in family life. Some hosted wedding/baby showers and volunteered to babysit for young families. Some members served as big sisters.

Sanctity of life
Members financially supported, volunteered at and promoted Right to Life, Life Chain, Grace’s Gift, walks and hikes for life, pregnancy centres, Birthright International, March for Life, 40 Days for Life, Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat Team, Project Rachel, programs to adopt unborn children, Sisters of Life, Priests for Life Canada, National Pro-Life Voluntary Fund,  Le Centre Marie-Eve, single mothers, pilgrimage and rosary at Seven Mile Bay, silent vigils, Sign of Hope, Roses for Life, Trinity Western University’s pro-life initiatives, Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Members were educated concerning the church’s teaching on euthanasia, end of life issues, in vitro fertilization, in utero gender discrimination, the destruction of human embryos, right to die, contraception and embryonic stem cell research. Members wrote letters and signed petitions. They researched issues such as the purpose of the condom campaign during the Arctic Winter Games, Motion 312 “That a special committee of the House be appointed and directed to review the declaration in Subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code which states that a child becomes a human being only at the moment of complete birth regarding the definition of life…”, Motion 408 “That the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination regarding gender-biased pregnancy terminations” and actively made their views known to local papers and all levels of government. Integral to all programming was the infusion of prayer in support of life in special services, rosaries and Stations of the Cross. Prince Edward Island Provincial Council received the commendation of the premier and minister of health and wellness on its stance against expanding availability of and funding for abortion services. One council prepared talking points for its priest to present on the BC Civil Liberties Association charter challenge on access to physician-assisted suicide, which became known in the news as the Gloria Taylor case.

Ministry to youth
Members supported and encouraged youth to participate in conferences, camps, retreats, parish activities (pageants, choirs, liturgical ministries), World Youth Day, Catholic Christian Outreach, campus ministry outreach programs, Western Canadian Association of Catholic Youth Ministers, Life Teen, Sandwiches for the Soul (coordinated with a youth group to make sandwiches and delivered them to those in need), Modesty for Christ (mother/daughter tea), NET Ministries of Canada and the Catholic Girls’ League.

Ministry to disabled
Members provided transportation to medical appointments, parish events, healing masses and celebrations on World Day of the Sick. Special events (masses, birthday and tea parties) were held at community living facilities. Eucharist, respite, prayer shawls, bulletins, food, flowers, entertainment and good cheer were delivered to ill members who were kept informed about upcoming events through phone calls and cards. Those with disabilities were encouraged to participate in liturgical celebrations. One wheelchair member presented the offertory gifts. Mentally challenged residents were treated to an evening of shopping and a Christmas lights tour.

Ministry to seniors
Many senior members remained active by organizing and helping at events, holding executive positions, enriching members’ prayer life, fundraising, catering and baking. Because seniors are such a significant part of the membership, special provision was often made for them such as subsidized membership, phone/prayer partners, transportation, cards and gifts for memorable occasions (birthdays, anniversaries), seniors’ events (cards, games, monthly luncheons, dinners, crafts, afternoon meetings and outings) and masses offered for their intentions. Special programs were planned such as keep fit/health day for seniors, forums/seminars, health care directives and programs on elder abuse. Seniors were valued as mentors for newer members. Provision was made for those members who were unable to attend by arranging special events at residences, providing visitation and continued contact with the council. One council held a development day focussing on the ways the League could show affection, care and respect for seniors.

Ministry to widowed
Councils provided support by providing receptions, candlelight services and helped in funeral planning. Members provided support to those who were grieving through a bereavement group, often presenting a prayer shawl and maintaining contact and offering support through visits, phone calls, prayers, masses and spiritual bouquets. Luncheons were hosted for widows, and they were encouraged to join League events and coffee gatherings. Some members belonged to programs like the Single Rose program (a Catholic widow’s group started by one of the members) or accessed counselling. Widowed members were lauded for their willingness to get involved in craft fairs, selling tickets, baking and knitting, and their leadership in study and prayer.

Ministry to separated and divorced
Separated and divorced parishioners were encouraged to continue to attend mass, join the League and come to meetings and social events and participate in parish activities. Members worked individually to provide support, understanding and hugs. Babysitting was provided for single mothers, assistance given to families in the form of gift cards for supermarkets and family activities and donations were made to single parent associations. A relationship mass honouring all relationships was held for single, married and divorced women.

Vocations
Councils supported clergy financially through donations to seminaries, seminarians, pastors and immigrant priests. Special celebratory gifts were given and bursary funds were supported. Spiritual support was offered through spiritual bouquets, daily prayer, vocations prayer at meetings, prayer for priests, mass cards, circulation of a “vocation prayer cross”, acting as adopted prayer mothers, offering vocations masses and attending spiritual events on vocations Sunday. Emotional support was given through cards of congratulation, refreshments, appreciation dinners, letters of encouragement, special remembrances on birthdays and anniversaries and invitations to social events, functions and conventions. Vocations were promoted by having speakers, attending ordinandi dinners and ordination ceremonies. Youth were encouraged to attend World Youth Day with the realization that some young people would be called to serve the church as priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers.

Activities undertaken
Four communiqués were issued and one article, “Ministry to Youth” appeared in The Canadian League.  The COLF 3rd Annual Seminar was attended and a report filed. A letter was drafted in response to the defeat of Motion 312. Letters were written to politicians in opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide and in support of Motion 408