2017 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Christian Family Life

September 24, 2018

Doreen Gowans
National Chairperson of Christian Family Life
2017 Annual Report

Christian family life standing committee chairpersons engaged members by promoting all aspects of the committee as it related to family, sanctity of life, various ministries and vocations. Starting with two national sub-committee chairpersons, Life Member Marg McCallum continued to complete a Christian family life workshop entitled “Reflection On Ministry as Family”, and Life Member Glenda Klein participated in an information session on “Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love)” and wrote an excellent article for The Canadian League entitled “Vocations: Responding to God’s Call”. A summary of the exemplary work members produced follows.

Marriage and Family
Parish council chairpersons used websites to locate resources that enhanced meetings and assisted in program planning. The Catholic Organization for Life and Family’s (COLF) website and its publication “The Joy of Love” at the Heart of the Family were most popular. Chairpersons promoted family enrichment programs, marriage preparation courses, encounter weekends for engaged/married couples, programs to support happily married couples, natural family planning and programs for single-parent families.

Community family support groups held a drop-in play group in the church facilities one morning a week for parents and grandparents to have an opportunity to socialize and learn from each other. Members attended workshops and seminars on the topic of family life using resources from COLF, celebrated National Family Week and promoted the World Meeting of Families to be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2018. Various resources were used such as the Pocket Prayers for Parents and Prayers and Rituals for the Home booklets, and the website of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Members assisted with family advent wreath programs and Christmas campaigns.

Recognition was given to parishioners celebrating weddings and milestone anniversaries, and gifts were given to newborns, newlyweds and new mothers. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were recognized and receptions for couples renewing wedding vows were held. Family-led stations of the cross were widely held.

Sanctity of Life
An impressive number of parish councils and members held membership in pro-life organizations. Members participated in 40 Days for Life, Life Chain, March for Life, Hike for Life, pro-life walks/dinners and National Week for Life and the Family events. Prayers were said for the unborn, pro-life masses and vigils, and the rosary was recited before mass in support of pro-life issues. Members collected baby clothes and layettes for Birthright International. Financial support was given to Birthright International, crisis pregnancy centres, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Life Canada, pregnancy and family support services, Campaign Life Coalition, Project Rachel, hospice, COLF, pro-life legislators, Catholic Civil Rights League and programs for unwed mothers.

Members knit booties and mittens for newborns and premature babies in hospital. One parish council placed a bassinette in the church vestibule for members to donate baby items which were given to babies in the parish. Another parish council distributed plastic baby bottles during Lent for parishioners to fill with monetary donations for the local pregnancy care centre.

Ministry to Youth
Parish councils sponsored programs for young people, while encouraging youth to share their gifts in ministry. They sponsored Catholic Christian Outreach, leadership camps, summer camps, Catholic Girls League councils, Girl Guides of Canada, NET Ministries of Canada, Catholic Youth Organization, Steubenville youth conferences, Sunday school, bible school, Youth for Christ, youth fairs and festivals, choirs, mission work and retreats, and promoted World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama in 2019. Subscriptions to Catholic magazines, videos or books for use in the community, school or parish library were provided.

Youth ministries included teaching catechesis and teaching students to pray the rosary. Parish councils involved youth in parish suppers and picnics. One parish council ran two projects, KIDS choir and Kids for Christ Ministry to help children grow in their relationship with Jesus. Parish councils promoted the Vatican’s online questionnaire for youth in preparation for the October 2018 synod on youth. A pro-life youth team gave a presentation and workshop on abortion. One parish council sponsored a youth to attend the national pro-life conference.

Ministry to Disabled
Encouragement was given to the disabled to take part in liturgical celebrations at care homes. Parish councils urged communities to make churches and public buildings more accessible for those with disabilities. Members reached out to the disabled through prayer, prayer lines, taking communion, telephoning, sending cards, giving gifts, sharing meals and organizing special events. They visited shut-ins and were present to listen to individuals. They provided food, pastoral care at hospitals, transportation to church or shopping and respite for caregivers. Members organized and participated in support groups, and financially supported shelters and programs to assist the disabled. Members made and presented quilts and prayer shawls, and offered companionship and friendship.

Ministry to Seniors
Parish councils provided programs and activities that enriched the lives of senior members and parishioners. Programs regarding euthanasia such as airing the film Euthanasia Deception were initiated to help seniors understand the church’s teachings on issues of today. They gifted senior members with membership and gifts, invited newly retired women to join the League, encouraged seniors to share their faith story, and involved seniors in intercessory prayers and League events, as well as sent cards of encouragement.

Councils initiated social programs and celebrations, and entertained at local nursing homes and hospitals. They promoted awareness of advanced health care directives, representation agreements through workshops/seminars and programs such as Capsule of Life, a life-saving program providing emergency numbers and assistance. They hosted the general meeting at seniors’ residences where a number of members live, and organized a weekly activity night for seniors. Senior members and life members were valuable to councils as they had a wealth of knowledge to share about the history of the League and information on past service.

Members distributed communion, prayed in seniors’ homes, provided transportation, shared meals, visited and involved seniors in League events. They provided respite for caregivers of seniors, and made and presented quilts, prayer shawls and palm crosses.

Ministry to Widowed
A common thread in ministering to the widowed was arranging memorial services, preparing and serving funeral lunches, organizing honour guards, encouraging participation in grief counselling programs, sending mass and condolence cards, offering support following the death of a spouse and getting involved with bereavement ministries. Members visited funeral homes and lead the rosary to support bereaved parishioners. One parish council established a bereavement program and invited those experiencing grief to participate in community gatherings and League events. Gifts of prayer shawls were presented. One provincial chairperson reported a decrease in the number of parish councils able to provide funeral lunches.

Ministry to Separated/Divorced
Members served separated and divorced persons through access to counseling or support groups, providing babysitting services and inviting them to join group outings. They helped by listening to their stories and offering prayers. Separated and divorced women needed a feeling of belonging and some needed a confidant.

Vocations
Families were encouraged to discuss vocations with children and to invite priests and religious into their homes to speak about vocations. Priests, deacons and religious were hosted at luncheons where they shared their vocation journey. Parish councils acknowledged anniversaries of ordination, and adopted seminarians and women religious by providing financial support and spiritual bouquets, and participating in prayers and masses for an increase in vocations. Parish councils supported travelling chalice/crucifix programs, priests’ retirement funds, bursaries for seminarians, gifts for special occasions and Serra Club. The prayer for vocations was recited after mass and at the end of League meetings. One parish council sent a donation to a Trappist monastery to have monthly masses said for vocations. Parish councils in Ontario shared information regarding the Bishop Bernard F. Pappin Memorial Bursary for seminarians.

Chairpersons’ Activities
• prepared communiques, reports and newsletter articles
• attended diocesan, provincial and national executive meetings and conventions
• attended March for Life and Life Chain
• helped with the petitions for palliative care and rights of conscience for physicians
• took action on resolutions on issues such as euthanasia and abortion by writing letters to local newspapers, members  of legislative assemblies, members of parliament and the prime minister
• kept abreast of current events
• communicated with other levels

At the national level, three articles were submitted for The Canadian League, two articles were submitted for the spring and fall parish mail-outs and three communiques were written, as well as attending to numerous e-mails and letters from members. Reports were researched and compiled on CWL’s response to WUCWO on Youth Synod and Addictions and the Family. The COLF workshop, Sex, Gender and Ideology, was attended.