presented to the

Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada

and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.

 

Thanks to the continued support of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus (KofC), the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) is able to pursue its mission to build a culture of life and a civilization of love in Canada. This report reviews the work of the Organization in the period from 30 June 2018 and 30 June 2019.


 

In the Public Square

Dr. MacDonald participated regularly in the meetings of the Catholic Physicians Guild of Ottawa (CAPGO) in Ottawa.

  • 1 October 2018: Dr. MacDonald attended the 7th Annual Parliamentary Forum on Religious Freedom in Ottawa organized by the Honourable David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills-Grassland, Saskatchewan.

  • 3 October 2018: Dr. MacDonald participated in a symposium on the intersection between civil and canon law held by the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute in Ottawa. The meeting was organized by the Director of the Institute, Rev. Dr. Andrew P.W. Bennett Canada’s former first Ambassador for Religious Freedom and Head of the Office of Religious Freedom.

  •  12 October 2018: Dr. MacDonald attended a Serra lunch meeting with Ottawa Catholic leaders including Auxiliary Bishop Christian Riesbeck.

  •  25 October 2018: Dr. MacDonald represented COLF at the Campaign Life Coalition 40th Anniversary gala in Toronto.

  •  5 February 2019: Dr. MacDonald participated in a public meeting with Campaign Life Coalition.

  •  7 February 2019: Dr. MacDonald participated in the “third-Thursday meeting” of national pro-life leaders in Ottawa held at the office of the Association for Reformed Political Action.

  •  2 May 2019: Dr. MacDonald attended the National Prayer Breakfast and Leadership Seminar (Ottawa).

  •  6 May 2019: Dr. MacDonald attended a private screening of the movie “Unplanned - What She Saw Changed Everything”, with special guest Abby Johnson and the producers of the film.

  •  9 May 2019: Dr. MacDonald represented COLF at the National March for Life Mass and prayer vigil. He also took part in the March for Life and Rose Dinner.

COLF in the Media

 In keeping with the past, representatives of the Catholic media have regularly contacted COLF to inquire about our position on current events. Dr. MacDonald was cited in the following articles:

The Catholic Register: 

  • 23 January 2019: Mr. Michael Swan’s article on Pope Francis’ letter, Humana Communitas, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The B.C. Catholic (official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Vancouver):

  • 2 December 2018: Ms. Deborah Gyapong’s article about Canada’s $8 million grant to Marie Stopes International.

  • 26 February 2019: Ms. Deborah Gyapong’s article “Church in Canada set to enact new abuse document”.

This same article was published as “Next steps for Church in Canada on combating sexual abuse,” in The New Freeman (official newspaper of the diocese of St. John, New Brunswick) [March 8, 2019, Vol. 119 No. 10, pp. 3 & 10].

 zenit.org (Catholic online news service)

  • COLF’s 2019 Message for the National March for Life entitled “You Give Life to All Things and Make Them Holy,” was published online.

 grandinmedia.ca (Central and Northern Alberta Catholic web based media)

  • 28 May 2019: Ms. Deborah Gyapong’s article “Poll shows Canadian Catholics believe Church has poorly handed sexual abuse crisis”.

  •  This same article was published in The New Freeman (7 June 2019, Vol. 119 No. 23, p.2).

The Catholic Register

  • 5 June 2019: Mr. Michael Swan’s article “Abortion and America: The great divide”.

  •  This same article was published in The New Freeman (14 June, 2019, Vol. 119 No. 24, pp. 3 & 11).

  Collaboration with the CCCB

National Episcopal Commission for Doctrine

  • July 2018: The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical Humana Vitae entitled The Joy of Married Love. Dr. MacDonald collaborated with Dr. Patrick Fletcher of the Commission for Doctrine in drafting the text.

World Meeting of Families 2018 - Dublin

  • Along with the Most Rev. Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., President of the CCCB and the Most Rev. Richard Gagnon, Vice-President of the CCCB, Dr. MacDonald attended the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin, Ireland from August 21-26 as part of the CCCB’s official delegation.

International Meeting on the Formation of the Laity - Rome, 26-28 September 2018

  • At the request of the CCCB’s Executive Committee, Dr. MacDonald represented the CCCB at an international meeting on the “Promotion and formation of the lay faithful: best practices”. The meeting was hosted by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Dr. MacDonald prepared a Report on the Promotion and Formation of the Laity in Canada (in English only) and presented the report along with a Power Point presentation (the report is available online here http://www.laityfamilylife.va/content/dam/laityfamilylife/Pdf/Canada%20Report.pdf).

Joint Ad hoc Committee on Palliative Care

  • COLF is one of the sponsoring organizations of the Joint Ad hoc Committee on Palliative Care; therefore, Dr. MacDonald has participated in the various meetings and conference calls of the Ad hoc committee in its ongoing work to develop a resource kit on palliative care and end-of-life issues for Catholic parishes.

Office of Evangelization and Catechesis (English Sector)

  • 6 April 2019: Dr. MacDonald presented a workshop entitled “Gaudete et Exsultate - Rejoice and Be Glad: Joy and Holiness in the Everyday,” at the National Conference on Evangelization and Catechesis. He also participated in the National Conference, “He Thirsts for You,” which was held in Ottawa on 4-6 April 2019. Ms. Margaret Shea-Lawrence, Director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, surveyed the workshop attendees and noted that there was very positive feedback.

2019 Week for Life and the Family

  • Resources for the 2019 Week – to be observed May 12-19, with the theme “Listening to the Gospel as a Family” – were developed, proposed to, modified and subsequently approved by the Executive of the CCCB. Dr. MacDonald’s reflection on the 2019 National Week for Life and Family was published in the May 2019 issue of Living with Christ.

Meeting with the Bishops of Saskatchewan and the Bishop of Whitehorse

  • During his visit to Saskatchewan where Dr. MacDonald was invited to speak at the Family Conference in the diocese of Prince Albert, he had the opportunity to meet with the four bishops of Saskatchewan and also with the bishop of Whitehorse. There are several challenges facing these dioceses with regard to life and family ministry. Not all of the dioceses have an office dedicated to life and family issues. This is not due to a lack of interest; either this pastoral care falls under the shared responsibility of other diocesan offices or it is part of parish ministry. These dioceses have both moderate financial resources and limited personnel. In large rural areas it is not always easy to gather people together for educational purposes. Some of the shared concerns include the following: assisting dioceses with (1) ongoing formation, (2) marriage preparation, and (3) marriages in crises. This could be carried out by providing dioceses with best practices and curricula in each of these areas. All of these elements should aim to serve the Church’s mission of evangelization by cultivating missionary disciples.

 Day-to-day Operations

 Links with dioceses, movements and associations

  • 8 August 2018: Dr. MacDonald spoke with Ms. Michelle Breukelman of CAPSS – the Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services – regarding future collaboration.

  • 17 October 2018: Dr. MacDonald met with public relations director Mr. Daniel Torchia.

  • 8 November 2018: Dr. MacDonald gave a lecture via SKYPE to students at the St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, Saskatchewan.

  • 15-17 November 2018: Dr. MacDonald attended the Pontifical John Paul II Institute Conference: “The Body as Anticipatory Sign: Commemorating the Anniversaries of Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor,” held in Washington, D.C.

  • 26 November 2018: Dr. MacDonald met with the Executive of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada to discuss their proposed resolutions to the Canadian government.

  • 11 December 2018: Dr. MacDonald met with Ms. Julie Bicol of Couples for Christ and Gift of Life Ministry to discuss lay formation for the members of the Ottawa chapter of Couples for Christ.

  • 2 February 2019: Dr. MacDonald gave a presentation on the Church’s teachings on assisted reproductive technologies and beginning and end of life issues to the Ottawa chapter of Couples for Christ at St. Theresa Church in Ottawa.

  • 24 April 2019: Dr. MacDonald met with Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Ms. Lisa Polk, Director of Pastoral Services, to discuss how COLF could best aid the archdiocese with regard to life and family issues. Dr. MacDonald also met with Dr. Brett Salkeld, the Archdiocesan Theologian, and Ms. Tashia Toupin, the Social Justice Coordinator for the archdiocese.

  • 25 April 2019: Dr. MacDonald met with Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr., of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan to examine by what means COLF could help the diocese regarding life and family matters.

  • 26-28 April 2019: Dr. MacDonald gave three presentations: “Faith, Family, and Jesus,” “Family Life as an Educational Setting,” and “Marriage, Family, and the Church” to a family conference entitled “The Family: Hope for the Church and for the Modern World,” organized by the Adult Faith Formation Office of the diocese of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

  • 28 April 2019: Dr. MacDonald met with Bishop Héctor Vila of Whitehorse, Yukon to consult how COLF could assist the diocese concerning life and family questions. Bishop Vila was one of the presenters at the Prince Albert Family Conference.

  • 29 April 2019: Dr. MacDonald met with Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan about COLF supporting the diocese in reference to best practices for life and family.

  • 29 April 2019: Dr. MacDonald met with Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Eparchy of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to consider COLF’s involvement with the eparchy pertaining to the topics of life and family. Also present at the meeting were Mr. Chris Bencharski, Sate Deputy for the Saskatchewan Knights of Columbus, and Ms. Teresa Bodnar Hiebert, Member of the Board of Directors for the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan.

  • 13 May 2019: Dr. MacDonald spoke with Dr. Robin Lathangue, Dean of Studies at Sacred Heart College in Peterborough, Ontario to discuss trends, challenges, opportunities facing family life ministries in Ontario and Canada. Dr. Lathangue is doing exploratory work for Bishop Daniel Miehm in the area of family life ministries.

Administrative Matters

 Dr. MacDonald met regularly with General Secretary Msgr. Frank Leo Jr.

 Publications

  • As of 17 July 2018, COLF’s inventory of publications is no longer stored at St. Joseph’s warehouse in Toronto thereby eliminating the cost of $3,800 per annum to the CCCB. The remaining relevant stock was shipped to our Don Reid location in Ottawa. We have reduced the price of our current inventory by 75% in the attempt to distribute all of our hard copies as soon as possible.

  • COLF will continue to make its inventory of publications available online in electronic format.

  • Dr. Marie-Claude Bourque completed her first term as a board member but has decided to step down from the board after our June 2019 board meeting to devote more time to her growing family. As of 26 June, Mr. Pavel Reid has also stepped down from the board. The board will be choosing new board members to replace Dr. Bourque and Mr. Reid.

  • Following the suggestion of our accounting firm, Deloitte, COLF board member Ms. Deborah Larmour has completed a draft of the Code of Conduct for COLF’s employees and board members. She also drafted a Statement of Faith and Mission to be signed by all staff, members, and directors of the Corporation (COLF). Ms. Larmour also began a revision of COLF’s General Operating By-law.

The Future of COLF

 Proposed New Strategy for COLF

The Board of the COLF is proposing to our two sponsoring organizations, the CCCB and to the Knights of Columbus, that a new strategy be adopted by COLF for the accomplishment of its mission and objectives. The origins of this proposed new strategy date back to 2015 when both Archbishop Richard Smith and Mr. Peter Stockland were on the board of COLF. To that end, a series of teleconferences were held to discuss and draft the new strategy. At the 2 March 2019 COLF board meeting in Ottawa it was decided that COLF should hold a strategic planning meeting in June 2019.

The strategic planning day took place on 1 June 2019. The morning session examined the philosophical and sociological undercurrents affecting life and family today. Dr. Ryan N.S. Topping, Vice President, Academic Dean, and Professor at Newman Theological College in Edmonton presented from the philosophical perspective. Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project, Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies provided the sociological analysis. The morning also included a reflection by Mr. and Mrs. Beier sharing their experience of being involved with Catholic Family Ministries. They have had great success in running yearly conferences (Family Life, Men of Integrity, and Women of Dignity) which hosts thousands of people.

The afternoon session was facilitated by Mr. Ray Pennings, Executive Vice President and co-founder of Cardus. COLF board members worked to develop a strategy for the future of COLF. Along with the morning presenters, we were joined by a parish priest, Fr. Rick Lorenz from the Anglophone sector to provide input from the grass-roots level.

A follow-up meeting by ZOOM with board members took place on 24 June to produce a draft of a concrete plan of action to move forward.

 

 This report is respectfully submitted

by the Members of the Board of Directors of COLF

 

Board of Directors:

  • Dr. Marie-Claude Bourque, Chelsea, QC, Medical Practitioner, wife and mother.

  • Mr. Natale Gallo, Ancaster, ON, Knights of Columbus, Former Supreme Director and Assistant to the Supreme Knight for Canadian Affairs

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

  • Ms. Deborah Larmour, Director of Family and Life Office for the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, SK

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

  • Mr. Pavel Reid, Senior Director of Ministries and Outreach for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, BC

  • The Most Rev. Christian Rodembourg, M.S.A., Saint-Hyacinth, QC, Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC

  • Dr. Marie Claire Roderick, Saint John, NB, Clinical Psychologist

  • The Most Rev. Richard Smith, Edmonton, AB, Archbishop of Edmonton, AB, President of the Board of Directors

 Staff Members:

  • Dr. Michel G. MacDonald (Executive Director)

  • Ms. Christine Shepherd (Administrative Assistant)