2015 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Christian Family Life
National Chairperson of Christian Family Life
2015 Annual Report
Councils across Canada celebrated and supported Christian family life with the following activities with one heart filled with compassion, one voice united in harmony and one mission
“For God and Canada.”
Marriage and family
World Marriage Day was observed in February. Councils facilitated and supported Momnipotent (a Catholic guide to motherhood), marriage encounter weekends and enrichment programs, marriage preparation and natural family planning. Councils acknowledged significant wedding anniversaries with mass and presentations of crucifixes, flowers, gifts, cards, special meals and notices in newsletters. Councils organized potluck dinners, children’s games, picnics, movie nights, skating parties, spirit days, and coffee and fellowship after mass. They held a week of prayer for the family and displayed posters in November for Family Violence Prevention Month. Councils presented movies such as Bella and Irreplaceable to educate parishioners. A speaker from one chancery office spoke on family resources.
The study program “Travelling Mary Kit” went from home-to-home on a weekly basis in one area. A coin collection was taken to purchase a baby-to-toddler car seat for a needy family. New parents were given “Precious Feet” pins and a “Baby bottle” campaign in May raised funds for and awareness about the needs of mothers and their babies. Members processed and placed a “Book of Mothers” among flowers by the altar to pray for deceased mothers in the parish.
Members: distributed Advent and Lenten calendars and prayer cards; encouraged new, young families to come to church; supported families that evangelized; and prayed for families. Special prayers were said for family members and blessings were given for Mother’s and Father’s Day. Members were informed of the rare occasion of the canonization of a married couple Marie Zilie and Louis Martin, parents of Ste. Therese of Lisieux, and members displayed posters of families and quotes by Pope Francis in their parishes. Members visited new parishioners in their homes and financially supported a mothers’ group to pay for a young girl who looked after the children while the mothers reflected on scripture, prayed and shared stories. When families struggled with relationships, members contacted social agencies on their behalf, and assisted families experiencing abuse by providing information on where to get help.
Members reported following the events surrounding the Synod of the Family 2015 held in Rome and some attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Support for families who lost loved ones, which involved meals, prayers and support, was provided. In one case, a Mexican military member was in Canada and his wife and two boys came for a visit. There was an accident, and both boys died. The closest parish council was about an hour-and-half away, but a few members spoke Spanish and made the trip with their spiritual advisor to offer translation and moral support. This was much appreciated by the parents.
Sanctity of life
Councils prayed the rosary before mass with the intention to end abortion and euthanasia. They kept informed of concerns referencing euthanasia, abortion, assisted suicide and the RU-486 abortion pill. Members wrote letters of protest to members of parliament and members of the legislative assembly, and signed petitions online against these actions.
Pro-life prayers were published in parish bulletins. A pro-life mass was held on December 8th. One council partnered with the Knights of Columbus to host a dinner and Chinese auction to support pro-life causes; it was a sold out event. Members spiritually adopted an unborn baby. Nine months later, those members asked for donations for a baby shower. All gifts were given to Birthright International.
Donations were made to Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Members attended presentations on legal issues, assisted suicide and euthanasia, and some councils hosted a speaker on assisted suicide. Members attended 40 Days for Life vigil, and pro-life banners were put up in the towns. Members viewed the video October Baby, inspired by the life of abortion survivor, Gianna Jessen, and encouraged a young woman to have her baby and provided a baby shower for her. Members also attended pro-life masses and receptions.
Councils participated in various walks for life. They promoted the Hidden Treasures abortion series, Silent No More Awareness Campaign, anti-abortion vigils and services for the unborn. Councils hosted an annual baby shower for the needy and supported one bishop’s pro-life fund. One delegation met with its member of parliament to discuss euthanasia and the sanctity of life, and members attended an international symposium against euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Ministry to youth
Councils assisted with youth rallies, conferences, bible camps and masses, and were prayer partners with catechism students. One council sponsored a dinner to raise money for the youth group’s spring trip to Haiti and another assisted youth who went to New York to help the homeless. Youths were encouraged to participate in the mass as readers, collectors, altar servers and gift bearers. One member taught youth in the parish all aspects of mass. At Life Chain and parish events, youth were encouraged to share their talents. Youth art work was used at a convention.
Councils supported the Girl Guides of Canada, Safe Grad, Catholic Christian Outreach, 4-H Canada clubs, NET Ministries of Canada, the Catholic Girls’ League, the Terry Fox Run, Little Flower Girls’ Club® and students going to the annual March for Life. Councils led music ministry and Theology on Tap for youth, taught the Kids 4 Jesus Program and billeted NET teams.
Members taught catechism, assisted youth for communion and confirmation, provided gifts and receptions for children receiving baptism, first communion and confirmation, and supported intergenerational gatherings as well as providing a youth program for first communion and confirmation for First Nations. Members attended a gender identity discussion at Campion College and supported youth with Christian ethics awards.
Ministry to disabled
Members visited, listened and assisted with driving the disabled to appointments, shopping and mass, helped with meals for the CNIB, supported a disabled child and raised money for an elevator and wheelchair, and presented dinner and a gift to one woman and her family. Funds were donated to build accessible entry for those with disabilities and others in need. A prayer line was established for all prayer requests, and members were encouraged by a “faith and light” group for people facing physical challenges.
Ministry to seniors
Councils held senior appreciation lunches, afternoon teas, a fellowship gathering after the anointing of the sick mass, memorial services, birthday and Christmas parties celebrated with some extra attention, and meetings at care facilities. They delivered meals, flowers on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and Easter and Christmas baskets. Councils organized outreach committees, bingos, entertainment, weekly activity nights and a parish visitor program that paired volunteers with the lonely or elderly to make sure they were okay. They encouraged members to volunteer in a cognitive training program for seniors and Alzheimer’s patients in a Chinese seniors’ home. Councils were involved in the prayer shawl ministry and masses were said for shut-ins and veterans. They offered a computer course and participated in a petition to establish an independent seniors advocate. Councils presented certificates and provided food. They offered free membership to 90-year-olds or those who could no longer afford them and provided birthday cakes and adult bibs for nursing homes.
Members sang at seniors’ homes and hospitals, especially at Christmas, and joined the parish pastoral ministry team. They brought and helped prepare meals where required. Members spoke to parishioners at mass to let them know they were seen and valued. Members took communion, Meals on Wheels and baking trays to shut-ins. Members helped with mass, novenas, rosaries, prayers and honour guards at nursing and funeral homes. Senior members were kept informed on services and were given assistance in filling out forms.
Seniors received Living Faith booklets, religious calendars, prayer shawls, weekly bulletins, cards, League newsletters, gifts and mass cards, and were called and visited regularly. Transportation was provided for parishioners who needed to go to mass, the hospital for kidney dialysis, to doctor and other appointments, or to a weekly quilting group. Donations to a mass for shut-ins were made.
Ministry to widowed, separated, divorced
The Family Fully Alive program was demonstrated in many provinces where families represented each diocese. The following programs were promoted: a retreat on new beginnings, “Women on their Own” and “Encompass Group”. Councils provided rosaries, funeral receptions, masses for the deceased, bereavement and outreach programs, memory boxes and prayer shawls.
Members encouraged involvement in the League, church and community with personal visits, telephone calls, visitation, meals, babysitting, transportation, gifts at Christmas and special activities to show Pope Francis’ vision of mercy toward divorced people.
The Year of Consecrated Life was celebrated. A poster was made for the Year of Consecrated Life, and members attended ordinations for priests and deaconates. Councils provided financial assistance to religious and seminarians at home and abroad, diocesan bursaries for seminarians, gifts to priests and funds to a priests’ retirement fund. Councils arranged for seminarians to speak on consecrated life and invited the parish priest for meals. Life members served on diocesan vocation awareness and appreciation committees. Annual appreciation dinners were held. Many councils sent cards and gifts, both spiritual and material, throughout the year in support of seminarians’ journey to ordination. One spiritual advisor was presented with new vestments. A subscription to The Canadian League was gifted to many seminarians and spiritual advisors.
Members prepared receptions for chaplains graduating from their basic military courses, sent Christmas gifts and cards to priests and religious, and celebrated birthdays and ordination anniversaries of parish priests. Members supported a new priest by providing housekeeping and some meals for him as well as looked into buying new supplies for his home. They supported oblates in Peru and Kenya, organized projects such as a colouring contest with a vocation theme for young children, invited priests and sisters to tell their vocation stories to young adults, wrote letters to candidates, formed strong prayer circles and adopted candidates to be a prayer partner while they were discerning. Many members attended a special prayer service for the intentions of Pope Francis. Members were dedicated to praying the rosary and novenas, having masses for vocations and attending Ordinandi Dinners and the Arise Program.