Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2000
WCR Letters to the Editor
Educate our children free from narrow-minded secularism
Re: Therese Gervais' letter ("Inaccuracies need to be corrected," WCR, Feb. 14).
Yes, there are Christian public school trustees on rural school boards and, yes, the School Act allows prayers and religious instruction to be included in the school day.
However, support for Christian morality is not necessarily popular in our public classrooms. Freedom of religion has come to mean freedom from religion. In our politically correct classrooms, tolerance is often only extended to minority, radical and/or secular opinions.
When my daughter and her friend stated they would never show support for a gay pride parade, the teacher told the class he could tell from their response that they were brought up in non-tolerant households. Their lack of enthusiasm for the homosexual lifestyle was defined as intolerance.
But when another class discussed the residential school scandals, a teacher declared that many Catholic priests are perverts. She did not offer my child the information that only a minority of the religious were involved nor that other churches and organizations have been co-named in these allegations.
I grew up in the rural public school system of the 1960s and '70s so I believed separate Catholic schools were unnecessary. Today I fully understand why so many parents are choosing Catholic and other Christian schools, or opting for home schooling.
If my children were just entering their schooling years, I would never choose the public system again. The finances of a faulty system are not a valid argument for preventing parents from choosing to leave it.
As Christians, we have an obligation to raise our children according to our morals and conscience, protected from the narrow-minded, prejudiced views of the modern secular world.
And we have the right to do this . . . so far.
We need regular Mass more than a video
While reading "New video examines parish transformation" in the Feb. 21 WCR, I couldn't help but wonder what the video on parish transformation being published by the Adult Learning Commission is supposed to accomplish.
I have been involved with the Catholic Church all of my life and I, like many Catholics of my generation, have seen lots of change, some positive, some not.
We don't need a video to tell us that. Nor do we need a video to tell us that the Catholic Church in the West is facing challenges, particularly the lack of priests.
I would like to point out that due to transformation of parishes, it is now a 40 minute drive one way to attend Mass. My family and I live near Hardisty, and must attend Mass in either Killam or Wainwright.
It is now 140 km between churches in our area. Maybe Archbishop Joseph MacNeil can drive 70 km in five or 10 minutes, but I cannot.
My children are grown, but do we expect families with small children to drive 50 to 75 km in the winter to attend Mass?
Maybe someone on the video can tell them why this is necessary, especially when there was a strong, viable parish community in Hardisty that was not scheduled to close under the original transformation of parishes report.
Bishop Fred Henry talks about increasing the involvement of the laity in the Church. How about starting by allowing lay liturgies instead of killing faith communities through forced closures?
There is no reason whatsoever why we could not have at least one Mass per month and several lay-led liturgies. That would probably benefit the people of God more than a video.
I wonder what Jesus would have done.
Joe de Kock
School system needs better funding
Catholic education is a unique privilege in our society and contributes significantly to the "Alberta Advantage." We as Christians will continue to advocate and support it. "Catholic Education has been called the great jewel in the crown of the Catholic faith community" - Archbishop MacNeil.
The city school boards in Alberta continue to be chronically underfunded. The current provincial government keeps throwing money at the hot spots, but denies the root cause of the turmoil.
The 1998-99 per student spending figure of $6,386 is below the Canadian average of $6,865. Alberta ranks sixth among provinces when it comes to spending education dollars per student from K to Grade 12.
The per student per day funding has decreased from 1992-93 at $29.53 to 1997-98 at $29.28 which does not account for the cost of inflation.
The latest calculations on full-time equivalent pupil teacher ratios in Canadian public elementary and secondary schools still show that Alberta tops the list at roughly 19:1.
If our provincial surplus is projected to be $2 billion, why do we have growing class sizes, special needs students who continue to fall through the cracks, increasing instructional and operating costs, aging facilities, technology needs and rising salaries, all of which contribute to the growing deficits of many school districts? We need the political will to research and rectify these grave concerns.
We have a serious concern regarding trends affecting family, and right to life issues. Pope John Paul stated that "the future of humanity, passes by way of the family." Strong families are the cradle of love which strengthen the values of society. A society where the family is being eroded, is a civilization in decline. We want the government to develop an appreciation for the family's role in society.
We as school districts must determine our "needs" vs. "wants" in terms of fundraising at the school level. The 1998 government figures show that $120 million was raised in 1998. Years of under-funding has produced a slow erosion of some fundamentals of public education.
Each year parents are faced with fees which vary from school to school, district to district, undermining the idea of a level playing field of equity in education. Are we letting the government off the hook for basic needs?
New figures from the Alberta Gambling and Liquor Commission show that the province now expects to collect $795 million in gambling revenues for the current fiscal year. We would like the government to develop responsible attitudes towards the use of financial resources and a sense of community in our province.
Education, health care and social services are not to be considered "costs," but rather crucial investments to our present and future society.
A rising tide raises all the boats that ride on the surface. But what if you don't have a boat? It is hard to believe that we have family poverty in our affluent province, but we know it can be just one part of a cycle of poverty tied to persistent social and economic problems.
One in 20 Edmonton residents use the food bank, including 13,372 children (and many university students). Early literacy programs must continue to be a priority.
We believe that the formulae used to determine capacity and space utilization of schools and educational facilities must be adaptable to take into consideration changing and variable local needs. Urban sprawl means we no longer need as many inner city schools which require large sums of modernization and maintenance dollars, but have a desperate need for new schools in the suburbs to accommodate normal municipal growth.
We need a provincial government to more closely monitor and lobby the federal government towards more equity of allocations, specifically in the areas of education, health, and social services.
What will the proposed tuition hike mean to the majority of university students who are already struggling with student loans, jobs, and financial burdens on their families? Provincial government regulations require students pay no more than 30 per cent of their education. Is advanced education only for the rich?
Forget about 2-tier medicine
Regarding the debate over private health clinics. Regardless of how the provincial government tries to explain their reasoning the fact remains that since the Klein government took power there has been a steady increase in private care.
Allowing private hospitals is just another step on the same road.
Seven years ago New Zealand allowed a two-tier medical system and learned the hard way that the costs went up and line ups for care increased. They are now disbanding the two-tier system and are going back to only the government run system.
There is no need to experiment with a two-tier system in Alberta because we already know what the effect will be.
Kamloops prays for new bishop
The Diocese of Kamloops has been without a bishop since autumn of 1999. An invitation was extended to the entire diocese to gather and pray for a new bishop.
Those who received and responded to this invitation gathered and discussed our needs for a shepherd. We used ideas from this discussion to formulate a prayer.
People are encouraged to use this prayer in their personal or family prayer time, and indeed anytime that the people of God meet in prayer.
It is hoped that the Diocese of Kamloops can be united in this prayer for a new bishop:
A Prayer for a Bishop
Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we have no bishop to lead us and we prayerfully come to you.
We trust you are watching over us and you know our needs.
May your wisdom guide those you have entrusted to choose a shepherd for the Diocese of Kamloops.
Please give us the grace to welcome, respect and love the one you have chosen. Amen.