2018 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Education & Health
National Chairperson of Education and Health
• Catholic Education: Peggy McNeil
• Wellness and Sickness/Disease: Life Member Dr. Rayleen De Luca
• Environment: Rita Janes
Annual reports from provincial councils provided in-depth information on all that was accomplished under this standing committee. Members were committed to the areas of responsibility in this standing committee and it is my hope to do justice to their endeavours.
Most councils reported being informed about the quality and availability of Catholic education in local schools and parishes, with some reporting between 81–92% positively. Some members indicated they were not aware of family life programs being taught in local schools. One provincial council reported 98% of parish councils had a relationship with feeder schools asking what the needs were and how they could assist. This approach created great dialogue. A few members were part of the Catholic school system and one was involved in policy planning. Alberta Mackenzie Provincial Council reported, “Councils remain prayerfully vigilant and are concerned about the future of publicly funded Catholic education and have written to their MLAs expressing their concerns.”
Councils indicated participating in sacramental preparation with some personally involved in sacramental initiation programs. One provincial council reported each diocesan council had members personally involved in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults programs.
Literacy and Continuing Education
Mentoring and tutoring new immigrants learning to speak English and acquire new literary skills was reported.
Scholarships and Bursaries
Councils provided bursaries and scholarships to students of all ages. One provincial council reported a diocesan bursary that assists with faith formation studies for religious and lay people. Twelve PEI Catholic Girls Bursaries were provided by Prince Edward Island Provincial Council. Bursaries and scholarships ranged up to $500.00. Councils reported promoting and financially supporting Coady International Institute and the National Bursary Fund.
Wellness and Sickness/Disease
It was evident councils embraced the priority set by national council to focus on mental health—in some cases as much as 91%. Canadian Red Cross, Alzheimer Society of Canada, Diabetes Canada, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Relay for Life, Autism Canada, Catholic Health Alliance of Canada, Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian Cancer Society, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, The Arthritis Society, CNIB Foundation, Telemiracle, Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada and the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada were also supported.
Some councils provided financial donations to adult and teen mental health organizations. Mental health issues were presented through pamphlets, presentations, speakers and activities to promote mental wellness. Members were encouraged to obtain the flu shot, shingles vaccine and the pneumonia vaccine. One council held a demonstration on how to use a defibrillator.
12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care was held by councils with one provincial council reporting 82% participation. Members participated in masses, prayer vigils, speakers, living rosaries and adoration, and some participated by praying at home. Brochures were supplied, neighbouring churches were invited, free-will offerings taken for local hospices, prayer blankets were donated, prayer discussions and a time for fellowship and refreshments were available. Nova Scotia Provincial Council reported, “Many councils feel that palliative is a very important cause and want to ensure that the increased awareness and focus remains and is not diminished,” echoing comments from other provincial councils. Those who wished to share personal experiences of palliative care were welcomed and supported.
Many councils participated in Earth Day. Across the board, members reported doing their part to minimize the environmental footprint by recycling, using green bins, reducing use of Styrofoam cups, plates and plastic stir sticks, reducing paper use, eliminating plastic water bottles, participating in roadside/community clean ups, providing alternatives to plastic bags, using glass dishes at meetings, eliminating use of plastic straws and halving the number of weekly garbage bags used. Councils observed Earth Hour and one invited the parish to participate. Some councils saved recyclables and donated proceeds to community charitable organizations and developing countries. Other initiatives included engaging in the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement on the right to safe drinking water, purchasing recycling containers for the parish, attending a Ukrainian ecumenical prayer and song service for environmental protection, saving milk bags for their confirmation class who makes mats for the less fortunate to sleep on and sharing environmental tips on a regular basis. Councils expressed concerns on the effects of climate change.
Several councils reported taking action on Resolution 2018.02 Setting a Standard for Products Marketed as ‘Flushable’ by writing letters, arranging for guest speakers, providing monetary donations and attending seminars on the topic.
There remained a need for members to become more knowledgeable regarding advantages and disadvantages of technological developments in respect to the teachings of the Catholic church. Sixteen councils reported subscribing to the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute newsletter.
It is clear most councils were dedicated to providing information and taking action on issues under the education and health standing committee. It is important to be well informed, continue to write letters addressing the issues and continue to provide ongoing educational opportunities to enhance knowledge in education, literacy, health and wellness, environment and continue to monitor genetic advances pertaining to Catholic teachings.