2016 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Education & Health

August 16, 2017

Fran Lucas
National 1st Vice-President and Chairperson of Education and Health
2016 Annual Report

“Health care and education are but two of the reasons Canada is held in such high regard!” Executive Handbook

Sub-Committee Chairpersons:
Education – Gabriele Kalincak
Wellness and Sickness/disease – Becky Kallal
Environment – Rita Janes

The sub-committee chairpersons researched and generated a wealth of information on their specific areas which was then shared through articles in The Canadian League, parish mailings, communiqués, memos and submissions for the national website. The theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission: Palliative and Hospice Care led to a culmination of reports that captured the immense number of activities at all council levels.

Catholic Education
Although not all provinces have Catholic schools, councils were involved with or supported in large numbers the sacramental initiation programs happening in their parishes. They worked on becoming informed on the quality and availability of Catholic religious instruction locally, encouraged parental participation in school activities, provided receptions in support of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and many sat on school boards. Schools were supported through breakfast and lunch programs, clothing drives, tutoring, reading programs, summer bible school, assistance with tuition fees and delivery of family life programs. Councils gave religious gifts on the completion of various sacramental preparations.

Literary and Continuing Education
Members were encouraged to assist anyone wishing to improve their literacy skills with large numbers having trained literacy tutors. Many members were full-time or retired educators who shared their gifts by teaching English and French. Continuing education was encouraged and members were informed of upcoming courses to assist in parish ministries and faith formation. Books were recom-mended and a board member of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation (CWLF) spoke at meetings.

Scholarships and Bursaries
Scholarship and bursary lists were compiled and made accessible to members wanting to further their education, while many councils awarded bursaries and scholarships to applicants from elementary schools through to post-secondary students. Donations were made to a variety of educational programs in many different organizations including the CWLF, Coady and the National Bursary Fund. Members in one council argued gender exclusion and moved to al-low Catholic males to receive its scholarship. The male recipient of a $1,000 scholarship graduated from a French language school.

Wellness and Sickness / Disease
Letters were written to all levels of government and local representatives were visited on matters including support for equal access to high quality home-based and hospice end-of-life palliative care, respect for the dignity of patients, rights of healthcare professionals and institutions, and on resolutions both new and old. Councils hosted pharmacists, physiotherapists and dietitians to speak on health disease, women’s health, flu and shingles vaccinations, mental health, healthy eating, adverse reactions to inactive substances and additives, blood donations and youth suicide. One council reported an excellent response to an organized weekly walk.

Members participated in many online surveys and petitions tied to health care. Councils supported local and national organizations such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Parkinson Canada, Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian Cancer Society, Alzheimer Society of Canada, The Arthritis Society and Diabetes Canada. Mental health postcard submissions were identified as doable and effective as many councils/members received replies from government.

Palliative care was clearly a major focal point for the majority of councils with one reporting a member’s completion of palliative care volunteer training. The “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” actively engaged councils and communities. Members dis-cussed how to assist hospice and palliative care units, shared personal experiences, made donations and requested this to be an annual event with additional resources. They supported the CAREY ME fund that provides palliative care in homes and assists with the expenses for respite care and medical supplies including medications.

Protecting the environment proved to be a very serious issue and steps were taken toward sustainable development promoting “reduce, reuse, recycle”. Councils encouraged the use of biodegradable products at home, meetings and events; promoted recycling programs, reducing use of plastic bags; and participated in roadside clean-ups. Speakers invited to meetings spoke on the topics of pollution, saving pollinators, water use in Canada and the dangers of neonicotinoid-treated seeds/plants/products. All of these were related to past and current resolutions. Members studied and attend-ed workshops on Laudato Si’, which encouraged protection of the environment.

Knowledge in the topic of genetics was rated with regard to the advantages/disadvantages of technological developments, in light of the teaching of the Catholic church, as being “good” or “fair” (with a rating of “poor” in third place). The rating choices of “very good” or “excellent” were rare.

Resolutions going back as far as 1997 were pursued this year. Although councils cited not being familiar with the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, one subscribed to its newsletters and many indicated they would be doing so. Councils researched, engaged speakers and discussed genetically modified foods, biotechnologies and stem cell research.

It was humbling to read all that had been accomplished despite the number of education and health chairperson positions reported as vacant. Many councils faced several major concerns stating an overwhelming number of issues being dealt with and a lack of membership capacity. Recommended readings on relevant topics will be continued as it was found to be effective.