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After almost four years of consultation, the Edmonton Archdiocese is releasing new standards for preparing children and youth for the sacraments. The 100-page binder effectively harmonizes sacramental education and preparation across parishes and schools in the archdiocese. One aim of the standards is to ensure no child falls through the cracks when it is time to receive sacramental preparation, says Kathleen Nguyen, sacramental education coordinator for the Edmonton Archdiocese.
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When Jeri and Chuck Marple's eighth child Mary was born at 22 weeks gestation, the choice of life or death was set before them. Doctors said if Mary survived, she had a 90 per cent chance of having severe cerebral palsy. They suggested disconnecting Mary's lifeline and respirator because she would be a burden to them, and it was not fair to them or to society.
World Youth Day is a family affair for the young pilgrims from St. Dominic Savio Parish in Edmonton. "Just over half the group is related to me, one way or another," said Kiara Smyth, 23, a leader of the group of 13 heading to this year's pilgrimage in Kraków, Poland. "I've got a big family." Spending time with her friends and relatives as they gear up for this year's WYD has been nice, said Smyth. But some young Catholics feel alone in their faith.
On her way to the Catholic Women's League Archdiocese of Edmonton convention, one of Elsie Paul's favourite songs came up on the radio. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," the Métis/Cree elder sang along. "I thought, 'Wow! What a good reminder!" said Paul, who spoke on the topic Be the Face of Mercy: Through our Indigenous Sisters with Archbishop Emeritus Sylvain Lavoie. >"So there's lessons all the time, everywhere," she said.
Jeff Fidelak could hardly describe the joy he was feeling the night his artwork was on display at L'Arche Edmonton's Art From the Heart exhibit. "I feel just . . ." he started, finishing his sentence with a broad smile, "wonderful! Because everybody likes my art pieces. It makes me proud." The celebration of creativity by members of L'Arche Edmonton's day program took place April 22 and 23 at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts.
When the head of communications for an international Catholic charity visited Syria, it was not safe to go to Aleppo. So Sister Annie Demerjian, an Armenian religious sister from the city, traveled to visit him. Demerjian and her community provide emergency support to Christians and others living in the bombed-out remains of Aleppo. "She showed us photographs and told us individual stories," said John Pontifex, head of communications for Aid to the Church in Need in the United Kingdom.
TORONTO - If the Supreme Court of Canada says Canadians have a right to a doctor's help in committing suicide, Ottawa South MPP John Fraser says we also have a right to timely access to quality palliative care. "People have a right to the care that they need," Fraser told The Catholic Register. Fraser is parliamentary assistant to Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins with special responsibility for modernizing and expanding the province's palliative care capabilities.
An inquiry into the life of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, will begin soon and run to the end of 2016. The Archdiocese of New York, which is sponsoring her sainthood cause and is where Day oversaw Catholic Worker houses, made the announcement. The Dorothy Day Guild, established in 2005 to promote her life and works, said on its website that 52 people have been chosen for interviews in the inquiry.
Reading Pope Francis' exhortation on the family is like having a discussion at the kitchen table with your grandfather, says Archbishop Richard Smith. The apostolic exhortation - Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of the Family) - is like being able to "talk openly with a man who already understands your problems and your weaknesses," the archbishop said in an interview. "The pope has a beautiful way of expressing in accessible language what is on the mind of the Church," he said.
Archbishop Richard Smith issued a passionate call to arms in the ongoing fight against physician-assisted suicide. "We are witness in this country to extraordinary events which are not of God's doing - the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia," he said. Smith issued his challenge to an attentive audience at St. Charles Church April 14. The education seminar was the last of the five-part Every Life Matters series created by the Edmonton Archdiocese.
The influential role of the Catholic Women's League of Canada in social action was affirmed at the recent 94th annual Edmonton archdiocesan convention. The theme for this year's convention, which took place April 22 to 24 at Holy Family Church in St. Albert, was With One Heart, One Voice, One Mission Be the Face of Mercy. Speakers, including Archbishop Richard Smith, who praised the CWL's ability to secure audiences with premiers and prime ministers, urged the sisters of the league to be the face of mercy, the eyes of mercy and the hands of mercy.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Philippine Church officials expressed outrage and sadness over the beheading of a Canadian hostage in the restive southern part of the country. Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim separatist group, had threatened to behead two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina if their ransom demand of $8 million for each hostage was not met by an April 25 deadline. The Philippine military as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the decapitation April 25 of John Ridsdel, a former mining consultant from Calgary.
Not a week goes by that Catholic Social Services' CEO Stephen Carattini doesn't visit one of the homes run by the agency in the Edmonton Archdiocese. During the visits he engages with residents and staff and also pays close attention to the quality of service and the physical condition of the residences. Over the last few years CSS has made a concerted effort to provide not only safe, secure and dignified spaces for its staff but also for the people it cares for.
TORONTO - The "fires of persecution" are bringing Christians worldwide closer together, a number of Church leaders in Toronto believe. A global trend of persecuting Christians is bringing greater unity among the different traditions which follow Christ, Church faith leaders said April 10 at A Service of Prayer for the Persecuted Church held at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church in midtown Toronto.
Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders appealled April 19 for protection of conscience rights for health professionals and institutions in the assisted suicide bill. "We believe that any action intended to end human life is morally and ethically wrong," said Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) president Bruce Clemenger. Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, representing both the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, said faith-based communities "established havens of hope" to serve suffering and sick people.
Father Henri Nouwen is still trying to help us understand. He's been dead 20 years, but he's still talking to us about our gifts and our failures, our hopes and our doubts, God and love and sin and community and loneliness. Thirty-eight of Nouwen's 39 books are still in print, some available in half a dozen or more languages. The books are studied in Catholic and Protestant seminaries, assigned as spiritual reading by retreat masters and passed from friend to friend.
OTTAWA – News that Health Canada expects to make an abortion drug available in July has pro-life groups and doctors concerned. "We're deeply saddened that this is going to become available to Canadian girls and women," said Campaign Life Coalition's Ottawa lobbyist Johanne Brownrigg. "We're concerned girls and women in isolated communities will think of this as an answer to a difficult situation and in fact complicate their own health."
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GREECE – The news media has focused so much on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried that they skewed the public's perception of the 2014 and 2015 meetings of the Synod of Bishops, says Pope Francis. The pope told reporters he has been "annoyed" and "saddened" by the over-emphasis. "Don't they understand that the family throughout the world is in crisis?" he asked.
Catechesis, or the teaching of the faith, is a life-long process of initial conversion, formation, education, growing, reflecting, praying, learning, pondering and ongoing conversation. Its aim is to lead all God's people to an ever-deepening relationship with God. So says Susan Barylo, director of catechesis and faith formation for the Edmonton Archdiocese. She along with Kathleen Nguyen, director of sacramental education, led a catechist in-service at the Pastoral and Administration Offices April 23.
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is among 26 NGOs in the Canadian Food Security Policy Group calling for Canada to help small family farms. "Our current modes of food production are not only contributing massively to climate change but are also inadequate for feeding a world facing a climate crisis," said Josianne Gauthier, Development and Peace's director of in-Canada programs.
EDMONTON – Catholic Social Services is starting a new counselling ministry for families and individuals. Mercy Counselling, as the ministry is called, will open its doors to the public June 1 at the agency's former central office, 8815-99 St. CEO Stephen Carattini described the new ministry as "a faith-informed counselling service where faith can be incorporated into the practice of psychotherapy."
From a distance Gaetano Gagliano was a perfect representative of Toronto's Catholic establishment. He was a rich man whose business empire employs more than 1,300. In the hands of his children, St. Joseph's Communications is today Canada's largest privately-owned communications company. The well-known magazines - Toronto Life, Fashion, Canadian Family and Quill and Quire - are just the visible tip of a business that provides branding, customer engagement and strategic positioning for all sorts of corporations.
OTTAWA - The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has received $5.95 million in additional funding from the federal government's Syria Emergency Relief Fund. International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau held a news conference April 13, flanked by representatives from a dozen Canadian NGOs, including Development and Peace executive director David Leduc.
Climate change and emergency situations are linked, but global emergencies also can be caused by people, said two leaders of Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization for Catholic charitable organizations. Emergencies are on the rise in the world, said Michel Roy, general secretary of Caritas Internationalis.
Catholic schools that voluntarily set up gender-neutral toilets or changing rooms to accommodate increasing numbers of transgender students could be sued in the event of a sex attack, a Catholic lawyer warned. Neil Addison, director of the Liverpool-based Thomas More Legal Centre, said schools that adopted such arrangements voluntarily would leave themselves open to legal action if a crime was committed because of their policy.