faith | service | social justice

2019 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Christian Family Life

Jun 22, 2020 | Annual Reports, National

Pat Deppiesse
National Chairperson of Christian Family Life

Sub-committee chairpersons and life members Evelyn Rigby and Joan Bona were unable to participate due to personal reasons. Life Member Nancy Simms kindly reported on vocations.

Congratulations and appreciation are due to the 11 provincial chairpersons of Christian family life for submitting an annual report of their numerous and tremendous works and acts of charity. In regard to how many parish councils (of those that submitted a report) had a standing committee chairperson, in 2018, there were 412 filled and 199 vacant, and in 2019 there were 392 filled and 198 vacant. Though a bit down, parish councils worked hard to do as much as they could. Chairpersons responded to the questions asked and even added many other good works done in the comments section.

Marriage and Family
Parish councils did an amazing job supporting marriage and families. Family enrichment programs were promoted, which included marriage encounter weekends for engaged couples, marriage preparation and natural family planning. Some parish councils gave a crucifix and card to newly married couples and hosted liturgical celebrations for couples celebrating special anniversaries.

Sanctity of Life
Sanctity of life was a very active and main focus of parish councils. All reported they had prayed regularly for the protection of life.

  • One council dedicated a memorial to the unborn.
  • They supported March for Life, pro-life fundraising dinners, Life Chain, vigils and 40 Days for Life events. Most parish councils reported they had fundraised for these various initiatives and sold pro-life Christmas cards.
  • Parish councils were active in advocating for the sanctity of life. They encouraged members to write letters, organize pro-life walks, circulate petitions and meet with their local members of parliament regarding the League’s position on life.
  • At least one-half of parish councils wrote to legislators advising them of the League position on Resolution 2019.01 Canada to Honour its Commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Many attended the films Unplanned and Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death.
  • Parish councils donated to Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Birthright International, Campaign Life Coalition, Pregnancy and Family Support Services and Priests for Life.
  • Many participated in a Dying Healed program sponsored by LifeCanada.

While most parish councils had not yet provided the updated pro-life brochure to members and made them available to all parishioners, they said they would do so in the new year. Most reported they had not sponsored or attended a presentation on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, again; they planned to do so in the coming year.

Ministry to Youth
Parish councils reported having many young people in their parishes who participated in various roles in the church; choirs, lectors, ushers, cleaning, catechists, gardening, coffee service, etc. They sponsored many youth events and had started promoting World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022. Some provided small gifts and celebrations when youth received the sacraments. They supported summer camps, Catholic Christian Outreach, NET Ministries of Canada and Girl Guides of Canada. Several parish councils arranged a living rosary in May at their parish schools. Only six councils had a Catholic Girls’ League but several expressed interest in this, St. Vincent de Paul youth groups and encouraging girl guides.

Ministry to Disabled
Many parish councils reported their church had been made wheelchair accessible with designated spaces for wheelchairs. They also made the persons with disabilities feel welcome at the church and meetings. Some had presentations by L’Arche. Parish councils brought communion to homes of disabled persons, prayed with them, visited or called shut-ins, sent cards and provided transportation.

Ministry to Seniors
Parish councils encouraged seniors to attend meetings, offering rides. They attended mass at nursing homes and also led the rosary, brought communion to seniors who were shut in, telephoned them to provide them with a friendly voice, and involved them in activities. Members supported Meals on Wheels. They encouraged newly retired women to share their faith stories, bringing new ideas and energy to the League. One parish council had a Christmas luncheon for seniors with carol singing.

Ministry to Widowed
Most parish councils assisted at funerals, providing funeral lunches. Members were excellent at providing prayer and support after the death of a loved one. They called, sent cards, visited and sometimes gifted the person with a prayer shawl. Widows were invited to attend meetings and events. Some parish councils had bereavement programs that the widowed were encouraged to attend. One provincial chairperson gave a presentation to a group of widows about pre-planning for a funeral, last wishes and family involvement.

Ministry to Separated and Divorced
Parish councils offered their time to talk if those affected by separation or divorce needed a non-judgmental confidant. They offered to babysit and invited them to join group outings. One parish council started a group for separated and divorced women to provide support. It experienced good results as the women found it really helpful to have a support network. They were going to open the group up to other parish councils in the area. Some reported having the brochure Annulments Today—Merciful and Just available in their parish. Many parish councils were interested in getting copies of the brochure and to having a speaker. Some had a speaker on annulments, who was well received. Others looked forward to doing so in the future.

Parish councils supported the priests in their parish and especially helped those priests new to Canada. Vocations were well supported, and members responded with enthusiasm to inviting priests into their home. They prayed for vocations and at times adopted a seminarian by sending him letters, birthday cards and gifts. Priests, deacons and seminarians were invited to speak about their vocations, and parish councils hosted luncheons and dinners for priests and religious.

The reports from the provincial chairpersons were amazing and demonstrated their leadership qualities! They expressed certain concerns or challenges in participation of members for things such as life projects. They felt parish councils required more training in all facets of the standing committee. This may be improved with strategic planning initiatives.

At the national level, two articles were written and submitted to The Canadian League, one on annulment procedures and one on vocations; several communiques were sent, as well as spring and fall memos to parish councils. I responded to many telephone and e-mail queries and attended all national executive/board meetings. A new brochure Annulments Today—Merciful and Just was written and submitted to national office for purchase by councils interested in this important and very much misunderstood subject, and it appeared to be well-received.

So much great work by councils and so little space to report!