Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 5, 2001
Archdiocese mobilizes on life issues
Pro-lifers, parishes develop blueprint for action
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Catholics have given Archbishop Thomas Collins a blueprint for dealing with life issues within the Edmonton Archdiocese.
And the first thing they want is the establishment of a life commission that will provide resources and leadership on the issue.
They also want priests to speak on life issues from the pulpit, to ensure life issues are part of the curriculum in Catholic schools and to work together to achieve legal status for the unborn.
These are just some of a myriad of ideas and goals produced at an Oct. 27 workshop aimed at developing a community plan of action on life issues.
Some 47 Catholics representing at least 18 organizations and seven parishes took part in the seven-hour workshop at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.
The archbishop and the Family Enrichment Centre convoked the brainstorming session. It included an introductory speech by Collins and a lecture on ethics by Sister Mary Lou Cranston, director of the St. Joseph's University College Ethics Centre.
Led by facilitator Tom Wispinski, participants shared their concerns, developed four themes and then added a list of goals under each theme. Then they discerned on the most important of those goals, creating a list of priorities for the next 12 months.
Wispinski will develop a report based on the workshop, which he said will be in the hands of the archbishop within two weeks.
Collins, who returned to wrap up the event, said he will look over the report and then make decisions on its implementation.
"The next step is to reflect on what has been discussed and then act," he said. "This is too important for us to (ignore). We'll proceed with these (recommendations). You can be assured of that."
All participants will receive a copy of the report, the archbishop said, adding maybe another meeting will be necessary to start the process.
"We have made a brilliant plan for you, your grace," Alberta prolifer Joanne Byfield told the archbishop. "One of the goals is to set up a life commission."
Collins said he would consider the suggestion, which comes at the time when the archdiocese is reviewing its commissions. "Maybe setting up the commission is the solution."
Bev Brannan, representative of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish's pastoral team, was happy the archdiocese had turned to the grassroots for ideas, suggestions and goals to work on.
"It's think it's important we all came together as a collective group and came up with a strategy," she said. "This will give us a focus."
Jean Ashdowns of Serena, a natural family planning organization, said the exercise was necessary to give groups in the archdiocese some direction and to show that "the Catholic Church is serious about life issues."
"We were waiting a long time to work with the archdiocese from the Catholic perspective because we work with people of all denominations in our groups," said Maria Voss of Campaign Life Coalition.
"So this is a wonderful blessing for all of us pro-life Catholics. And maybe this time, with the wonderful enthusiasm of this new bishop, maybe we are going to do something. We came up with specific goals of how we, from our experience, will promote respect for life."
Leadership from the archbishop and priests of the archdiocese are essential to get people mobilized on life issues, Voss said.
"I think it was critically important that the archbishop called this meeting," said Jim Borgel, also of Campaign Life. "We are desperately in need of leadership to support respect for life. This is a good first step. This is a clear message coming from the Church that it's serious about life issues."
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