2015 Annual Report – Education and Health

October 01, 2016

Nancy Simms
National Chairperson of Education and Health
2015 Annual Report

The year was both challenging and hope-filled for the education and health standing committee—challenging due to both the many changes to provincial education curriculums that undermine Catholic values and the pressure to quickly establish quality palliative care as an alternative to physician-assisted dying. Yet, the year was hope-filled as members stood firm with One Heart, One Voice, One Mission to keep Catholic values alive in Canada.

Catholic education

Parish councils supported religious education programs through teaching, coordinating, hosting receptions, giving gifts and certificates as well as helping with financial needs. Many councils sent letters to provincial governments asking for support of Catholic schools and what effects revisions to provincial education and health curriculums would have on Catholic schools. Councils also initiated or supported Catholic school singing, writing and/or art contests.

Members were Catholic school board trustees, support staff, teachers’ assistants, members of parent advisory councils, volunteers and cooks for hot lunch or breakfast programs in the schools. They were involved in children’s liturgy, bible camps, the Rosary Apostolate, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Catholic Christian Outreach and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Members were also involved in lay formation programs and bible studies.

Literacy and continuing education

Councils developed Christian libraries and donated funds for Catholic school and/or community libraries. Members volunteered in literacy programs for both youth and adults and worked with refugees and immigrants to learn English.

Councils encouraged continuing education through guest speakers at their meetings, hosting or encouraging attendance of workshops, retreats, conferences and conventions. Members attended theology classes at Newman Theological College, studied English as a second language and various other educational endeavours. Courses included, but were not limited to, learning to be a lay minister for prisoners, driving safety and a defibrillator course.

Scholarships and bursaries

Councils offered gifts, bursaries and scholarships to the Catholic Girls’ League, students continuing on in post-secondary education, students attending Catholic high schools and students involved in music and art festivals. Councils promoted bursaries at all levels of the League. The total financial amount given in bursaries throughout Canada is unknown but would have amounted in the tens of thousands of dollars. Many councils also subsidized students at Catholic elementary schools. One provincial council created a new lay ministry bursary for its active members.

The League gratefully acknowledges the following individuals and council donations that were designated to enhance the national bursary fund.

Parish councils:

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Council,                                $50
Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labarador

St. Columbus, Souris, Prince Edward Island                                $25

Individuals:

Helen Metz                                                                       $50

Wellness and sickness/disease

Members and councils wrote letters to all levels of government opposing healthcare dollars going towards physician-assisted dying and abortion, that prescription labels have expiry dates and that unused medications be taken to drug stores for disposal. Members attended town hall discussions and organized information sessions on physician-assisted dying.

Councils encouraged members to get vaccinated and spoke on the importance of mammograms. Members participated in line dancing, walking and exercise clubs, and wellness groups. They canvassed and/or donated for: the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Diabetes Association, The Arthritis Society, Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and many more. Members participated in Relay for Life, the Autism Speaks Canada Walk, the Multiple Sclerosis Walk, the Terry Fox Run, the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope and other walks for cancer. Members also donated blood to the Canadian Blood Services program and trained for hospice care, crisis intervention and grief training. Members participated in the Misericordia Health Centre Foundation Angel Squad that raised funds for the centre. Quilts were provided for clients at Ronald McDonald House and in chemotherapy units. Bingos were organized for mental health care patients at one local hospital.

Many letters were written to government regarding various education and health resolutions. All resolutions were supported through prayer and education. Guest speakers presented information on mental health, comprehensive health and wellness, Lyme disease, heart disease, women`s health, advance care planning, stem cell research, organ and tissue donations, the benefits of saving cord blood, the sale of aborted babies’ body parts, hospice and numerous other topics. Councils also educated themselves through relevant articles regarding health issues such as prescription costs, depression, Parkinson’s, stem cell research, cancer, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, the effects of exposure to cell phones and radio waves, and much more.

Environment

Councils and members recycled and composted. They used environmentally friendly items at all functions, sent agendas by e-mail to cut down on paper waste and encouraged carpooling whenever possible. Councils educated members on the environment through articles, guest speakers, workshops, study of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and the video series Cultivating and Caring for Creation.

Councils informed members on Resolution 2015.03 Banning the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides and 2015.02 Ban the Use of Microbeads in Personal Care Products, and action was taken. Some councils continued to recycle plastic milk bags to make sleeping bags for developing countries; others collected aluminum can tabs for wheelchairs, soup labels for education and had designated days to clean roadsides in their communities. Councils recycled by successfully operating thrift shops. One council reported maintaining a chemical-free vegetable garden and donating the produce to the local food bank. Another council sponsored three children to attend a summer ecology camp. Councils followed the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference and discussed the dangers of fracking.

Genetics

Councils wrote letters to government regarding genetics. Some of the letters requested that laws remain in place to ensure genetic manipulation does not overstep the boundaries of God’s laws of nature. Councils discussed active resolutions regarding genetics in an effort to understand the issues. Members shared information from Dr. Moira McQueen’s book Bioethics Matters: A Guide for Concerned Catholics and reviewed the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute website. Many councils studied and had guest speakers on genetically modified foods, bio-technologies and newborn genetic testing.

Activities undertaken

Education and health standing committee chairpersons at all levels were busy informing themselves and inspiring members to speak out on the importance of hospice and palliative care, along with the other many issues that fall under their purview. One of the biggest challenges reported by chairpersons was the enormity of this portfolio. Chairpersons were encouraged by their personal growth and knowledge while proceeding with their work in this standing committee. Chairpersons of education and health continued to trust in God and work diligently together with One Heart, One Voice, One Mission.