presented to the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus

 

Always attentive to the national news and the pastoral needs of Canadian families, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) continues its mission to bring about a culture of life and a civilization of love in Canada.  This report reviews the major pastoral, cultural and educational initiatives undertaken by COLF between 30 June 2015 and 30 June 2016, with the indispensable support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.

 

PUBLICATION

 "Parents, will your children be happy?"

This message to families focuses on the formation of conscience  . . .   How is it that the human being is capable of the best and the worst?  Good and evil engage the whole world and every human heart in a great battle. Those who are currently dedicated to the education of their children and who hope to form responsible and generous adults cannot ignore this reality.  Because, ultimately, it is their first responsibility, their primary task, to form tomorrow’s men and women to recognize and choose the good, the beautiful and the true among the many proposals which will be offered by culture and society.  They know, moreover, that the eternal happiness of their children depends on their life choices.

A workshop guide is available on our website and provides families, parishes and anyone who wants, an opportunity to deepen their reflection on this subject.

 

WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES

Thanks to the financial support of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, several members of the Board of COLF were able to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, from September 22-27, 2015.  The event, whose theme “Love is our mission:  the family fully alive”, was experienced as a great sign of hope by COLF’s delegation. Everyone was struck by the depth and accessibility of the teachings and by the beauty of the liturgies and testimonials. A hundred individuals attended the talk given by COLF’s Executive Director, Ms. Michèle Boulva, on “A House Undivided: Christ as Unifier of Blended Families”.

 

THINK TANK SESSION

On April 7-8, 2016, two groups of experts – one Francophone and one Anglophone—gathered in Toronto for a time of reflection and exchange on three of the many challenges facing todays Christian parents:  the gender ideology, the media and the challenge of commitment and fidelity.

The theme of each one-day meeting was: “Major Challenges Confronting the Family”. Each meeting began with a talk on Christian anthropology.  The fruit of these think tank sessions on worrisome socio-cultural phenomena will be valuable to COLF in its ongoing work with Canadian Catholic families.

 

EUTHANASIA AND ASSISTED SUICIDE FILE

The issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide continues to occupy the Canadian scene.  COLF was therefore called on to increase its efforts:

  •  Updating of the “Life Giving Love” campaign.

  • Signing of the Joint Declaration against euthanasia and assisted suicide initiated by the CCCB and the Evangelical Alliance of Canada.

  • Participation in a strategy session in the company of a dozen leaders engaged in the fight against euthanasia.

  • Participation in a symposium organized by Living with Dignity, the Physicians Alliance against euthanasia and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

  • 9 September 2015: issuing of “Euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada: our voices need to be heard” -  a press release encouraging Catholics to make their voices heard by the committee of experts formed by Prime Minister Harper, by the committee set up by the Ontario Ministry of Health and by  candidates from all parties in the federal election.

  • 19 October 2015: issuing of “A threatened solidarity” – Short brief submitted to the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada.

  • 21 December 2015: issuing of “Palliative Care:  A sure path to eliminating requests for physician-assisted death” – a commentary on the “Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death” of the College of Physicians of Ontario (CPSO).

  • January 2016: COLF joins the Coalition for Health Care and Conscience initiated by the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada (CMDS). Other members of the Coalition are the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies, the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and Physicians for Life.  The Coalition's objective is to uphold the freedom of conscience of doctors and health institutions without affecting the patient who opts for assistance in dying.

  • 1 March 2016: Issuing of a reaction to the report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Aid in Dying.

  • 15 April 2016: issuing of reaction to tabling of Bill C-14.

  • 9 May 2016: COLF’s President, Archbishop Richard W. Smith, writes to every member of the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada regarding Bill C-14.

 

SPEAKING OUT

Besides its numerous public interventions regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide, COLF published two messages during the year:

  1. "Is my family a ‘school of mercy’ ?" --  A Message on the Occasion of the National Week for Life and the Family (15 May 2016) With the Grace of God, parents are called to be icons of Divine Mercy.  Many ask:  “What kind of world are we going to leave our children?  Let us ask instead, “What kind of children are we going to leave to our world?”  If we consider the state of our society, we see that time has come to ask: “Have I loved enough?”  If I have not loved as Christ calls me to do, perhaps it is just that I have not been able to draw from the transforming and merciful love that flows freely from His heart.

  2. "Extending the Hand of Mercy" – A Message on the occasion of the National March for Life (12 May 2016) During the Jubiliee Year of Mercy, an invitation to walk in solidarity with all those women wounded by abortion and to bring them to Christ, the Physician of souls.  “There can be no greater spiritual work of mercy than to bring one’s mother, one’s sister, friend or colleague to the Sacrament of Reconciliation where Christ awaits them, longing to extend his healing and forgiveness”.

 

COLLABORATION WITH THE CCCB

National Week for Life and the Family

At the request of the CCCB, COLF took over the development of resources for dioceses and parishes as part of the National Week for Life and the Family (May 8-15, 2016) with the theme “My family:  a school of mercy”, developing a user’s guide, a prayer card, homily notes, prayers of the faithful, and notes regarding suggested events and activities, etc.  One of COLF’s publications:  “Families, Christ calls you to sew hope and joy” completed the resources.

 

THE FUTURE OF COLF

After 20 years of existence, COLF decided to take a look at the work done to date and to consider the needs arising in the current socio-cultural context.  A planning committee was created and submitted its report to the Board of Directors.  A strategic planning meeting was held in June. 

Another meeting, with representatives of the CCCB and the Knights of Columbus, was held in April to discuss COLF’s future and to prioritize directions with the hope of establishing a closer working relationship between COLF and the CCCB and to better reach Canada’s Catholic families.

 

PARTICIPATION IN CONFERENCES

During the year, the staff (Michèle Boulva and Peter Murphy) participated in several events and conferences, taking advantage of these opportunities to raise awareness of the work of COLF.

As speakers:

 

2015

10 September: Diocese of Mont-Laurier – Launching of the pastoral year: “The Family as Recipient and Protagonist of the New Evangelization” (MB)

23 September: World Meeting of Families (Philadelphia) – “A House Undivided: Christ as Unifier of Blended Families” (MB)

1st October: Archdiocese of Ottawa – Launch of the pastoral year: Presentation of the “Life Giving Love” campaign and of COLF’s resources relating to euthanasia and assisted suicide (PM)

27-28 October: Canadian Canon Law Society –   “The Sacrament of marriage:  an impossible calling? / Le sacrement de mariage : un impossible appel?” (MB)

21 November: Diocese of Prince-Albert – Facilitation of a spiritual renewal day on the theme “The Family as Recipient and Protagonist of the New Evangelization » (MB)

 
2016

 

23 January: Montreal (St-Ambroise Parish) – “The formation of conscience” : a conference inspired by COLF’s 2015 Message to Families : "Parents will your children be happy?" (MB)

25 January: At the request of Alliance Vita, recorded a five-minute video summarizing the major bioethical challenges in contemporary Canada.  The video was screened in France (with viewings in Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec) as part of the “University of Life”, with 6000 participants (MB)

26 January: Diocese of Grand Falls (Newfoundland) – Facilitation of a resource day for pastoral personnel on the themes “The Family and the New Evangelization” and “Theology of the Body:  a Gift for the New Evangelization” (MB)

27 January: Archdiocese of Ottawa – Facilitation, with Dr. Rene Leiva, of a workshop on euthanasia and assisted suicide for a group of 60 at the Diocesan Centre (PM)

11 February: Alabama – “At Home with Jim and Joy” (on EWTN):  a 30 minute interview on the family and the New Evangelization (MB)

12 May: Ottawa – Interview with Jim and Joy on EWTN, in the context of the National March for Life (MB)

19 May: Archdiocese of Ottawa – Two sessions on COLF’s resources relative to euthanasia and assisted suicide ­– one for the pastoral workers of the Anglophone sector of the Archdiocese, a second for the Anglophone priests (PM)

 
As participants:

2016

15-16 April: Ottawa – New Evangelization Summit (MB and PM)

5-6 May: Montreal – Talk by Yves Semen, founder of  l’Institut de la Théologie du corps (MB)

12 May: Ottawa – National March for Life (MB & PM)

1 June: Ottawa – Demonstration in opposition to Bill C-14 (euthanasia and assisted suicide) (PM)

  

OTHER NEWS

Links with dioceses, movements and associations

COLF continues to work for the promotion of life and family with Diocesan representatives, including members of the TPPF, and representatives of pro-life groups, ecclesial movements and new communities.  People registered in our database regularly receive COLF news updates via email and now by social media (tweets).

 COLF in the media

The issue of euthanasia has aroused great interest on the part of the Catholic media, whose representatives regularly contacted COLF to inquire about our position on current events. 

 
 
This report is respectfully submitted by the Members of the Board of Directors of COLF

 

 Board of Directors

  •  Ms. Cristina Alarcon, B. Pharm, M. Bioethics, Vancouver, B.C. – Community pharmacist

  • Mr. Nat Gallo, Ancaster, ON – past Supreme Director Knights of Columbus

  • Mr. Larry Kustra, Winnipeg, MB – Knight of Columbus, Supreme Director.

  • The Most Rev. Paul Lortie  Bishop of Mont-Laurier, QC.

  • Mr. Michel MacDonald, Ottawa, ON  –  Lecturer at Université St-Paul.

  • Ms. Amélie Martineau-Lavallée, Québec, QC – Director of Diocesan Family Ministry, Archidiocèse de Québec. 

  • Ms. Kim Phuong Huynh, Outremont, QC – Marketing 

  • Mr. Peter Stockland, Montréal, QC – Professional Journalist  and Director of Cardus Centre for Cultural Renewal. 

  • The Most Rev. Richard Smith, Edmonton, AB –  Archbishop of Edmonton, AB

Staff Members

  • Ms. Michèle Boulva ( Executive Director)

  • Mr. Peter D. Murphy (Assistant Director)

  • Ms. Christine Shepherd (Administrative Assistant)