Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
July 17, 2006
WCR Letters to the Editor
Just pension is due to priests
Recent letters to the WCR [051506 -051506 -061206] have raised questions pertaining to thePriests' Retirement Fund. Permit me to make a few brief comments which may help to clarify these concerns:
No retired priests that I know are complaining about their financial situation. As someone mentioned, we knew what we were getting into when we answered the call to priestly service. Over the years our priests have endeavoured diligently and with great commitment to provide that service.
The Priests' Retirement Fund, established by the priests themselves, is underfunded by some $2 million. We continue to seek ways to lessen this shortfall. Increased contributions by the working priests is but one avenue we are exploring.
Part of the problem with our underfunding stems from the fact that the fund was set up at a time when priests received very little by way of salary or stipend ($30 to $50 per month) and hence had little to contribute.
Only in very recent years have priests begun to receive a living allowance that more appropriately recognizes their standing as professionals. This has been a response to the demands of justice.
But improved salaries do not obviate the need for adequate retirement provisions, again a matter of justice.
The Priests' Retirement Fund, by its constitution, is intended to provide retirement benefits for priests only, as its name suggests. Those who leave the priesthood receive their full contribution back, plus interest. Those joining the fund are fully aware of this provision. There is no violation of justice here.
Presently, a gala evening is being planned for September in support of the retirement fund. It should be noted that it was neither the priests nor the fund itself that initiated this effort.
A group of Catholic businessmen in the archdiocese have taken it upon themselves to do this to support the priests and to lessen the shortfall the fund currently faces. These men obviously recognize the need to have justice accorded to the priests.
Providing a modicum of comfort, dignity and peace to our priests in their declining years, after lives devoted to selfless service of the people, is seen as a fulfillment of that demand for justice.
The priests are most grateful for this support.
Msgr. Jack Hamilton
St. Joseph's Priests' Retirement Fund
Forget threats of blacklists
While I agree with Bishop Fred Henry (WCR, July 3) that Catholic schools and institutions ought not to be involved in any form of gambling to raise funds, I take issue with his approach to this problem.
The reliance on gambling as a major revenue source by our province is a shameful part of the Alberta Advantage. We lead all provinces in charitable licences for gambling.
The facts on gaming in Alberta are incontrovertible: five per cent of adult Albertans are considered problem gamblers, and 10 per cent of suicides in Alberta have been linked to gambling. We are just beginning to understand the social and human costs of the proliferation of gambling in our province.
The arguments often given in favour of gambling - it's legal, "they" are going to gamble anyway, other schools are doing it and we need a level playing field, where else can we raise $60,000 in three days - are specious at best, and evade the main issue: Is this a right and just way for us to raise money for our children's education?
Anyone involved, even peripherally, in education in the past decade is aware of the chronic under-funding of our schools. There is tremendous pressure on school councils to raise as much money as possible, and casinos are easy and seductive.
The hard questions we need to ask for every decision we make as parents, as teachers, as trustees, as bishops, are these: How will our actions benefit our children in Catholic schools? How will our actions benefit Catholic education?
Bishop Henry's talk of boycotts and blacklists is every bit as damaging to the future of Catholic education in this province as is the fundraising he seeks to ban. As a faith community, we need to talk about how we raise money for our schools.
I fear that, in the long run, Bishop Henry's short-sighted actions will not lead to any fruitful discussion on this issue.
Surely, today, the biggest threat to Catholic education in Alberta comes from within.
Full support for Bishop Henry
I want to say that as a practising Catholic, I fully support Bishop Henry's reported stance that Catholic schools should not be relying on gambling as a means of raising money (WCR, July 3).
To argue otherwise is surely to argue that the end justifies the means, hardly a basis for sound morality, however persuasively the case is presented.
Apart from his trying to bring some people, who really ought to know better, to rethink what is going on in the name of Catholic education, I believe Bishop Henry is serving another most valuable purpose.
Judging by the media coverage alone, he is clearly helping to identify publicly what the Church stands for regarding faith and morals.
In a world where disparagement of Catholic beliefs is so prevalent on all sides - The Da Vinci Code claptrap is only the latest manifestation of such ridicule - it is truly gratifying to see a Church leader willing to stand up and be counted in providing such leadership.
Casino funding abuses the weak
I supportBishop Henry's efforts to end casino fundraising.
It is an abuse of our system at the expense of our weak.
Why would anyone want to take this money and support anything at the expense of the children of these weak people that are addicted to the machines?
Protestant camp offers a striking contrast
The article by Father Mike Mireau (WCR, June 5) regarding Camp Encounter going broke has resulted in a number of letters in response. Any and every Catholic who reads the WCR should be deeply saddened and concerned that this wonderful camp in our archdiocese is going broke.
The condition of Camp Encounter is really a reflection of how we fail to support our youth to the extent that is needed.
A few weeks ago, our parish priests asked during Mass how many junior and senior high students were in attendance. I counted a total of six hands go up. Our priest was very gracious and thanked them for being there.
As a Catholic high school teacher, I have had the privilege of accompanying students to Camp Encounter on a number of occasions. Our students are not the only recipients of graces found at Camp Encounter as a number of Catholic high schools in the archdiocese benefit from the work that Doug and Dale do with our students.
An interesting incident took place on our first trip out there. Our bus driver mistakenly took us to Camp Encounter's neighbouring camp - Camp Nakamum - which is run by the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
My colleague and I got off the bus to inquire if this indeed was Camp Encounter as the bus driver insisted that it was. We found ourselves in a very massive and beautiful recreation area. Camp Nakamum also has a gym and a swimming pool.
I can only wonder if it wasn't through the promptings of the Holy Spirit that we got lost and had an opportunity to see the camp that our Protestant brothers and sisters have established for their young people, only to then be taken to our Catholic camp so as to see the vast difference in facilities. It had a huge impact on my fellow teacher and me and we were glad that the students didn't get off the bus to see the difference in camps.
I would challenge anyone who is concerned for the present and future of our faith community to find out more about Camp Encounter. Visit the camp and possibly visit the neighbouring Camp Nakamum to see what an adequate youth camp might look like.
I would challenge you to get out your chequebook and write that cheque now and send it to Camp Encounter so that we too can give our young people the nurturing and support in their faith that is needed in our faith community.
Camp Encounter helped change lives of high school students
It is with the utmost disappointment and frustration that we are writing this letter. As teachers, students and parents at St. Francis Xavier High School, we are stunned at the predicamentCamp Encounter has found itself in.
Like St. Francis Xavier, many other Catholic schools take their students to the camp. At St. Francis Xavier, there are over 200 students and a dozen staff and support staff that attend Camp Encounter each year.
I, Madeline Driscoll, a student at St. Francis Xavier, have seen amazing changes in my fellow classmates from only two days at Camp Encounter. With the wonderful environment, we as students can feel secure and safe in sharing our thoughts and feelings with no negative repercussions.
Many students will attest to the fact that this experience at Camp Encounter has been a highlight in their lives, nourished and strengthened their faith, and will never be forgotten.
As parents, Mr. and Mrs. Nolette from St. Francis Xavier feel it is with these religious experiences that help our children grow with a better understanding of themselves and a significant growth in their maturity and faith.
It is a beneficial and spiritual experience our children share with their peers and they have expressed to us that it would be wonderful if they could share this in Grade 10 as well as in Grade 12.
Parents have called St. Francis Xavier and written letters thanking the school for taking their child to Camp Encounter.
Camp Encounter has healed many wounds and mended many broken relationships. As a Catholic school, we feel that we are honoured to be able to celebrate our faith in many venues.
Roland & Dianne Nolette
Letters to the Editor
The WCR welcomes your letters. Please write 300 words or less and tell us your name, address and daytime phone number. All letters are subject to editing.
Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily represent the views of the WCR.