2014 Annual Report – Christian Family Life

Judy Lewis
National Chairperson of Christian Family Life
2014 Annual Report

Through the Christian family life standing committee activities from coast to coast to coast, members strove to enrich, support and celebrate the family. The following is a summary of activities. We Have Seen the Lord! in action “For God and Canada.”

Marriage and family
Members organized family movie nights, family camps, cemetery Sundays, family faith sharing events, coffee parties, family dinners, potlucks, winter sports carnivals, teas, Halloween parties, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events, blessings for fishing boats for families, and gatherings after mass with games for families so they could to get to know each other.

One council held a joint brunch with the local Knights of Columbus to commemorate the Feast of the Holy Family. Many councils reported presenting crucifixes to married couples and going to city hall to proclaim National Family Week. During marriage week, members played a game to show how many years of marriage were represented. Councils sponsored birthday and anniversary celebrations, published congratulations in parish bulletins, held weekly prayer hour devoted to the family and presented prayer cards to families.

Flowers were given to the children to present to Jesus in His crib at the Christmas mass and for Mother’s Day the children presented them to Our Blessed Mother Mary during mass. Members participated in taking home a family statue; each week one family received the statue at mass to take home and pray for all the families of the parish. Families were encouraged to celebrate liturgical seasons as part of their family tradition, teach children to pray daily on their own, and display a cross prominently in their home.

Councils assisted struggling parish families by paying their Catholic school tuitions or assisting families to obtain affordable summer programs for children. Members sponsored foster children. They also distributed information about special celebrations for married couples, Christmas and Easter hampers to families in need, articles regarding principles for raising good children and Catholic Organization for Life and Family packages. Prayer cards for the family were distributed at weekend masses. Donations were made to marriage preparation programs.

Members taught the CREIGHTON MODEL FertilityCare™ System and encouraged attendance at marriage encounters. They assisted with presentations based on the 1995 book The Five Love Languages to help members and guests learn more about their love language, and participated in searching for the longest married couple in Canada. Members visited mothers with new babies.

Councils set up workshops and engaged speakers on topics related to marriage and family and family planning. Members participated in the consultation process for the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the topic of Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.

Sanctity of life
Members volunteered at and bought membership in pro-life organizations such as Birthright International, and at hospices providing palliative care. They shared information and encouraged participation in the annual March for Life, attended pro-life masses and rallies, supported pregnancy care centres and participated in hikes for life, Life Chain and 40 Days for Life.

Members participated in the Red Envelope Campaign, a day in which empty red envelopes are mailed to politicians as a reminder of the unborn who have died as a result of abortion. Other pro-life activities included supporting one bishop’s pro-life fund, attending gala banquets in support of pro-life organizations, and displaying material from Priests for Life and The Back Porch. Councils sold pro-life Christmas cards, calendars, candles and Mother’s Day roses.

Prayers were said for and donations were given to various pro-life programs. Rosaries and the Hail Mary were prayed for the unborn. Workshops were presented on euthanasia and Project Rachael. Petitions and letters were sent to politicians and the media to make views known on abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide. The leader of one federal political party was widely chastised for his stance on denying pro-life candidates opportunities to run for nomination.

New life was celebrated by hosting luncheons for the mothers, fathers and grandparents of newborns. Layettes were delivered, and gift bags for moms were collected and donated to pregnancy and family support services as prenatal class graduation gifts. Baby showers were held for new mothers.

Councils arranged for speakers on the topic of assisted suicide and aired Crescendo, a short film with a pro-life theme. One council wrote to its city council and asked that September 28-October 5 be proclaimed as Celebrate Life Week. The city agreed and a big sign was displayed on the Catholic school fence.

Ministry to youth
Councils supported sacramental preparation classes, CFC Kids for Christ, altar server programs, school retreats, children’s liturgies, junior and senior high school youth groups, Catholic camps, youth conferences, World Youth Day and the Catholic Girls’ League. Financial support was provided to hire a youth minister in one parish. One youth group participated in a baby shower for Jesus. NET Ministries of Canada was supported and offered opportunities to give retreats. A “Little Women” program was initiated to teach young girls hospitality. School children were taught the living rosary and to regularly pray the rosary through a colouring contest.

Members encouraged youth involvement in leadership, liturgy, hospitality, bazaars, teas, community outreach, assisting immigrants and music ministries. Youth interfaith programs were encouraged. Members volunteered as prayer sponsors, arranged youth clubs and presented gifts for first communicants and confirmation candidates. The Born of the Spirit series and other early religious programs were encouraged, promoted and taught. Children’s bible stories were placed in the pews, and weekly adoration was attended with children. Assistance was provided to youth to attend camps, bible schools and the Me to We movement. In one area, a God Squad was started for teenagers. Members liaised with university students individually and through Catholic Christian Outreach. Student awards were presented for the most Christian like attitude. Sixteen-year-olds were encouraged to join the League.

Ministry to disabled
After enquiring as to what the needs of the individual disabled were, members responded generously. They offered rides to masses, meetings and appointments, and extended invitations to lunches and shopping. They included the disabled on phoning lists and e-mail fan outs to keep them updated on events, visited them, sent them cards, went carolling to them and took communion to them at homes and local extended care facilities.

Members gave prayer shawls to those who were lonely or ill, attended weekly masses at extended care facilities, became involved in support groups for the disabled, and brought the disabled to meetings with women experiencing domestic violence so they could share their stories. The disabled were encouraged to participate as much as possible at mass by being lectors or bringing up the gifts. Handi-van drivers were offered assistance, as well as families with disabled children. Grocery receipts were collected for financial support for a home for adults living with brain injuries.

Ministry to seniors
Members visited seniors at homes, in manors and in assisted care facilities, bringing them communion, remembering them with gifts at Christmas, providing palliative care where needed, praying the rosary, and providing lap blankets and adult apron bibs. Home baked treats and fresh fruit were also provided. Members assisted seniors in filling out forms for transition to long-term care facilities, and councils arranged for presentations on wills.

Seniors were encouraged to share their faith stories with members and were asked to be prayer partners. They were provided with rides to masses, meetings, programs, card parties and socials, and they were celebrated at seniors’ dinners, teas, birthday parties, monthly luncheons and other activities. Seniors’ craft groups were arranged, especially for the making of items for annual bazaars.

Awards were presented recognizing the many hours of volunteer time seniors gave over the years. In some cases, meetings were arranged for Sunday following mass to encourage and accommodate senior members. CWL newsletters were provided to senior members interested in what was taking place in their parish council.

Ministry to widowed
Members ensured widows received a church bulletin and CWL newsletters. They offered transportation as required, visited with them, attended funerals, provided funeral receptions and bereavement baskets to families, participated in vigils at funeral homes, offered masses, and sent mass cards, sympathy cards and friendship cards to grieving spouses and family members. Many widows received prayer shawls. In some cases, the family received visits and were prayed for over a period of nine days after the funeral. Spiritual bouquets were offered and prayers for their family were included in prayer intentions. Widows were invited to luncheons, breakfasts, suppers, socials, CWL meetings, coffee groups, singles groups and bereavements programs for the recently widowed. The hand of friendship was extended.

Ministry to separated and divorced
Single mothers were given monetary donations and gift bags. As many single and divorced women face the responsibility of raising children alone, members were encouraged to be a message of hope and compassion, and to offer assistance. One council reviewed and studied an ecumenical divorce care program.

Prayers for vocations and for priests were said at masses and meetings, and spiritual bouquets were offered. Councils held special novenas, holy hours and benediction. Gifts and cards were sent to seminarians and priests at Christmas, Easter, birthdays and ordination anniversaries. Receptions were organized for retiring priests and to welcome new priests to parishes. Support was given for priests’ retirement funds.

Councils supported priests and religious through appreciation dinners. The adopt-a-seminarian program continued to be popular and all who requested to be adopted were matched with a council. Councils that adopted seminarians kept in touch with them, invited them to meetings and parish events, prayed for them and supported them financially. The Bishop Bernard Pappin Bursary was awarded. Clergy were invited to members’ homes for meals, and members prepared and delivered home cooked meals to clergy. CWL stoles were purchased and presented to spiritual advisors.

To promote vocations, some members attended a “Called and Gifted” workshop. Seminary funds were supported. Members and councils donated to Serra. One council supported a parishioner who joined the deaconate and another supported a parishioner who became a priest. One council supported a young woman as she prepared to enter a contemplative order. Prayer cards for vocations were distributed at masses. Vocations fairs were hosted with various agencies and religious groups. Students in elementary schools were encouraged to pray and learn more about what it means to be a seminarian.