National Chairperson of Christian Family Life
This report is a compilation of good works accomplished by parish councils as reported by Christian family life standing committee chairpersons. I was honoured and humbled to read of the incredible work accomplished by members. While reports from approximately one-half of councils were submitted, I am certain these good works were also performed by councils that did not report. I hope for more inclusive reporting next year—please remember we need to “toot our own horn” and celebrate achievements! I thank Sub-committee Chairperson and Life Member Nancy Simms for sharing her wisdom regarding vocations.
Marriage and Family
Marriage preparation encounter weekends and courses were encouraged and well attended. In some cases, members presented a crucifix to newly married couples for their new home. Prayer and Rituals for the Home booklet from Novalis and Families on the Way of the Cross a devotion from the Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada and the Franciscan Family Center in Bethlehem were utilized. Some councils sponsored hospitality events (e.g., family barbecues) to create opportunities to develop and support family life activities in the parish. A Mom’s Circle was supported by members and consisted of young mothers networking and creating spiritual and social events at the parish to build a Christian family life. One council hosted a “Take a Break” coffee social following each monthly school mass for parents and community members who attend, serving coffee/tea/juice, sandwiches and dessert. Councils reported presenting flower arrangements to parishioners celebrating important wedding anniversaries.
Parish councils financially supported and supplied material goods, including Christmas gifts, to women’s shelters to help those suffering domestic abuse. Military Ordinariate Provincial Council had a family resource centre provide counselling regarding abuse and counselling was also provided by regional Catholic social services. A League initiative which began a few years ago was a Catholic domestic abuse society that, with the help of many members, offered a crisis phone line and provided education about domestic abuse to schools and parishes. The society purchases safe housing for the abused and had a very successful thrift store supporting these initiatives run by member volunteers.
One standing committee chairperson suggested encouraging councils to promote and celebrate National Family Week, which occurred the week prior to Thanksgiving.
Sanctity of Life
Approximately one-third of councils reported holding memberships in pro-life organizations, however, statistics were more promising for those who participated in pro-life activities such as rosary for life, masses, vigils, Life Chain and March for Life. Members wrote letters in support of pro-life legislation and attended meetings with pro-life legislators. Many councils signed the Petition of One Million to support the unborn child organized by Alliance for Life Canada. Pro-life Christmas cards were sold and showers were held for Birthright International, with baptismal garments provided for infants. Councils generously supported financially, or with gifts, Birthright International, Pregnancy and Family Support Services, Campaign Life Coalition, LifeCanada and other organizations.
Some councils supported Euthanasia Prevention Coalition financially and have seen the films Euthanasia Deception and Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death to educate members on the issues. The Dying Healed program sponsored by LifeCanada was attended by many members. Its purpose is to give volunteers confidence that being at the bedside of a lonely or dying person is an invaluable service.
Ministry to Youth
Some councils participated in programs for young people in the parish, encouraging them to share their gifts in ministries such as choirs, lectors, servers and ALPHA courses for youth. Many council members reported assisting with religious education programs for youth. Councils provided Catholic magazines, videos and books for school libraries and gave gifts to first communicants and confirmandi.
Councils reported donating to summer and leadership camps, NET Ministries of Canada and dry grads, and prayed for World Youth Day participants, financially helping out when possible. Support was also provided to Catholic Christian Outreach, a university student movement dedicated to evangelization. A couple of parishes reported having a Catholic Girls’ League, and others supported Knights of Columbus’ youth programs.
High school students were encouraged to participate in the local March for Life.
Ministry to Disabled
Councils reached out to the disabled through prayer, home and hospital visits bringing communion, providing transportation, offering League memberships and by supporting organizations and programs that help people with disabilities. Members assisted those in nursing homes to attend mass and provided prayer shawl ministry, Christmas and birthday gifts. Many councils participated in local Meals on Wheels programs. Councils invited persons with disabilities to partake in liturgical celebrations and social activities in the church, and a few participated in support groups and respite for caregivers. Members urged communities to make churches and other public buildings more accessible. This work motivated members to volunteer for palliative care.
Ministry to Seniors
Most councils involved seniors in League social programs and celebrations, inviting them to join the League and share faith stories. Members provided Christmas gifts to seniors and delivered Meals on Wheels. Seniors were offered transportation to mass, meetings and other appointments. Choir members visited seniors’ residences to sing for residents and some councils organized bingo. One council reported, “most of our members are seniors or retired and in many ways our council itself is a ministry to seniors!”
Ministry to Widowed
Councils were active in helping to arrange memorial services and/or funeral lunches. Widows were visited and invited to attend League meetings and events, and encouraged to participate in programs. Prayer, mass and sympathy cards, were sent. Some councils reported a widows’ knitting group in which they select a group project, as well as work independently.
Ministry to Separated and Divorced
Most councils reported not focusing on this ministry. Other councils reported focusing on separated and divorced parishioners made those affected feel more welcome and accepted in the church community, which was appreciated because they thought no one cared. Councils offered babysitting services to allow free time. Councils invited separated or divorced individuals to participate in community gatherings and League events. They encouraged participation in support groups and counselling services. Some councils sponsored an informal presentation on the annulment process.
Most councils reported praying for vocations and supporting seminarians. Councils provided food and gifts for priests, and prepared Christmas gifts for seminarians. One diocesan council reported holding a priests’ or sisters’ appreciation dinner every alternate year. Many councils purchased furnishings for the rectory. Some councils invited the religious to speak on vocations at meetings. Councils reported donating to priest retirement funds. Individual members invited clergy, religious, and/or seminarians for visits and meals in their homes.
Thank you most sincerely for all you do “For God and Canada.” Keep up the good work! As one provincial standing committee chairperson pointed out, “All the good works included in this report were carried out by League members intent on creating a better world for the greater honour and glory of God. Their efforts are tireless and ongoing.” May Our Lady of Good Counsel guide members in all they do.