2016 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Christian Family Life

August 16, 2017

Doreen Gowans
National Chairperson of Christian Family Life
2016 Annual Report


“Approach families with respect because God is at work”… Pope Francis

Provincial chairpersons busily engaged members by promoting all aspects of this standing committee as it related to family, sanctity of life, various ministries and vocations. Sub-committee Chairperson and Life Member Marg McCallum (New Brunswick) completed a new workshop entitled Reflection on Ministry as Family. Sub-committee Chairperson and Life Member Glenda Klein (Ontario) participated in several information and workshop sessions on vocations and wrote an excellent article for the winter edition of The Canadian League entitled “Responding to God’s Call.” The exemplary work that members produced is as follows:

Marriage and Family
Councils at all levels promoted family enrichment programs, marriage preparation courses, encounter weekends for engaged or married couples, programs to support happily married couples, natural family planning, parenting courses, programs for single-parent families and stress workshops. Members attended family life workshops or seminars and liturgical celebrations for married couples, and celebrated National Family Week. A group of families in one council met four days each month and prayed the rosary together. Regional Catholic Family Services provided families with an array of counselling services. Prayer support and monetary donations were given to the Head Start Program in Manitoba. Daycare was paid for so mothers could attend a “Mom’s Group” where they studied scripture. It also provided an opportunity for young mothers to meet in the parish community.

Recognition was given to parishioners celebrating weddings and milestone wedding anniversaries. Welcoming pamphlets and gifts were given to newlyweds and couples celebrating their children’s sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, first communion and confirmation. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were celebrated. Receptions were held for couples renewing their wedding vows and several councils presented a crucifix to couples married in the church.

Action taken on resolutions under marriage and family included:
• Resolution 1965.05 Marriage Preparation Courses: courses were organized and facilitated by members in conjunction with their priest
• Resolution 1984.06 Spousal Abuse: donations of monetary funds
• Resolution 1989.04 National Strategy on Child Care: members wrote letters to the federal government and attended seminars
• Resolution 1992.05 Support Services for Pregnant Women, Res-olution 1975.02 Abortion Counselling and Resolution 1971.04 Action on Abortion Issue: members were kept informed through guest speakers, mounted letter writing campaigns, made finan-cial donations and provided volunteer services
• Resolution 1996.02 Natural Family Planning: members attended natural family planning sessions
• Resolution 2005.09 Support for Families Experiencing Perinatal Loss: members conducted a letter writing campaign to govern-ment
• Resolution 2006.02 Legal Protection For All Those Who Object to the Solemnization of Civil Marriage for Same-Sex Partners: letters were written to government

Sanctity of Life
Members participated in 40 Days for Life, Life Chain, March for Life, pro-life walks and National Week for Life and the Family sponsored by the CCCB. Prayers were said for the unborn and for spiritual adoption, and the rosary was recited before mass in support of pro-life issues. Memberships were taken out in local pro-life organizations, baby clothes and layettes were collected for Birth-right International and volunteer help was provided for the protection of life. Financial support was given to Birthright International, crisis pregnancy centres, EPC, Life Canada, pregnancy and family support centres, Campaign Life Coalition, Project Rachael, COLF and the First Steps Housing Project in New Brunswick. Members were well informed and attended seminars on physician assisted suicide.

Action taken on resolutions under sanctity of life included:

• Resolution 1995.02 Abortion Funding: letters written to gov-ernment officials
• Resolution 2000.02 The Prohibition of the Sale of Human Embryonic or Foetal Tissue or Reproductive Services: members at-tended workshops and seminars and conducted letter writing campaigns
• Resolution 2002.09 Human Stem Cell Research: members at-tended workshops and seminars and wrote letters
• Resolution 2004.01 Protection of Human Life: monetary donations were made to pro-life organizations and letters were written to all levels of government

Ministry to Youth
Councils sponsored programs for youth in the parish, encouraged them to share their gifts in ministry and provided assistance with children’s liturgy of the word. Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), summer camps, youth conferences and World Youth Day were all supported. Subscriptions to Catholic magazines, videos or books for use in the local community, school or parish library were provided. Events were sponsored with CCO, Catholic Girls’ League, Girl Guides of Canada, NET Ministries of Canada, Catholic Youth Organization, Steubenville youth conferences, summer camps, Sunday school, family fun days for National Family Week organized by FRP Canada, vocation bible school, youth fairs and festivals, choirs and mission work. Youth helped with various minis-tries, were altar servers and readers of the word, taught catechesis and read to young children. Monetary gifts were presented to students receiving the sacraments, graduating, altar serving or participating in essay contests. Donations were made to Camp Monahan, Camp Lemieux, Teen-Aid Saskatoon, Christian ethics awards pro-grams and faith programs. Councils involved youth groups in baking for area soup kitchens and in parish events such as fall suppers and picnics.

Ministry to Disabled
Disabled parishioners were encouraged to take part in liturgical celebrations and assistance was provided to those living independently. Communities were urged to make churches and public buildings more accessible to those with disabilities. Members reached out to the disabled through prayer, brought them communion, provided pastoral care at hospitals, offered transportation to church or shop-ping, telephoned, sent cards, provided respite, visited, delivered Meals on Wheels, provided baking, volunteered at nursing homes and held clothing drives for assisted community living residents. Members organized or participated in support groups and respite for caregivers. One council hosted a “thanksgiving tea” to recognize caregivers for their support to the ill in hospitals, visiting shut-ins and being present as a listening ear. The prayer shawl ministry was important for members, as the shawls they created provided prayer and comfort to those in need of support. Members gave of their talents by knitting caps for premature babies, prayer shawls or scarves for those in hospital and palliative care, “Prayers & Squares”, made quilts for chemotherapy units, and donated gift baskets at Christmas and Easter to nursing homes.

Ministry to Seniors
Members distributed communion, provided transportation, shared a meal, visited, prayed in homes, picked up groceries or ran other errands on behalf of seniors. Respite was provided for caregivers of seniors and shelters for abused seniors were supported. Senior members were gifted with their membership, while newly retired women were invited to join the League. Seniors were encouraged to share their own faith story and were involved in intercessory prayers, participated in League events and received cards of encouragement. Social programs and celebrations were initiated. Members sang at local nursing homes and provided gifts to those in nursing homes at Christmas. Councils initiated education and promoted awareness of advanced directives for health care and representation agreements through workshops and seminars. Seniors in care homes were provided with gifts of Living Faith booklets or religious calendars. Fruit baskets were sent following operations or illnesses and monthly mass was offered for their birthdays. News-letters were sent out to those wishing to be kept informed about their council’s activities. One council organized a free 10 week computer course for seniors.

Action taken on resolutions under seniors included:
• Resolution 1996.03 Advance Directives for Health Care: work-shops and seminars were held to make seniors aware of ad-vanced directives for health care and enduring powers of attorney or representation agreements
• Resolution 1999.01 Elder Abuse/Assault Awareness:
members became aware of community response mechanisms to protect seniors through guest speakers’ presentations

Ministry to Widowed
Widows were invited to attend meetings and community events, included in family outings and gifted with prayer shawls. Parish bereavement programs were offered to both widows and widowers. Prayers and support were provided after the death of a spouse and members helped make arrangements for funerals and memorial ser-vices. One council provided free funeral receptions.

Ministry to Separated/Divorced
Members served separated/divorced persons by providing access to counseling or support groups, babysitting services to allow free time, and invitations to join group outings. Members also offered to become a confidante, friend, lend an ear and say prayers with them.

Families were encouraged to discuss vocations with their children and to invite priests and religious into their homes to speak about vocations. Priests/deacons/religious were hosted at luncheons where they shared their vocation journey. Councils: adopted seminarians/sisters; participated in prayers for vocations with masses being offered for an increase in vocations; supported a travelling chalice/crucifix program; supported priests’ retirement funds; provided bursaries for seminarians and gifts for birthdays and Christmas; and supported Serra and the local brothers. Members supported discernment events for their youth and attended a banquet held annually for Ordinandi.

Chairpersons’ Activities
Provincial chairpersons prepared communiqués, reports and news-letter articles, and attended provincial executive meetings and conventions. They shared information received from national counter-parts and from the websites of EPC, COLF and CCCB. In Ontario they prepared and presented information regarding Bishop Bernard Pappin Bursary to the seminarians along with other provincial officers.

I attended national meetings, conventions, compiled and reviewed the new annual report, updated the new pro-life brochure, wrote three articles for The Canadian League and two for the spring and fall parish mailings directed to parish presidents, wrote three communiqués and attended to numerous e-mails and letters from members.

Summary and Final Thoughts
Chairpersons kept abreast of what was happening and communicated to others. Councils read communiqués from all levels of the League, shared information at meetings and took time to visit League websites often for information.

“The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church” (Pope Francis).