Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 26, 2007
Catholic lawyers live a vocation dedicated to justice
Some make a point to stand up for the forgotten ones
By BILL GLEN
"I, in turn, always pray for my clients and a successful resolution."
- Elizabeth Tatchyn
From that moment, Saccomani said, the idea took flight.
The Kottage has now been open 12 years, taking in thousands of children while offering in-home counselling to help parents.
Saccomani says her faith leads her to take on cases that have been turned away by others, due to a lack of foreseeable compensation and a strong possibility of a no-win verdict.
The opening of St. Benedict's Chapel in Edmonton City Centre Mall has been a boon for Saccomani and other members of the guild, who take a moment during their day for reflection.
"I am so happy we have the chapel. I try to go to Mass every day. I find that God is calling me there. He has put it in a place that is so convenient that I don't feel good if I don't go," she said.
Saccomani's childhood moments almost convinced her to become a teacher. She pictured herself taking a child aside, who might not have been receiving enough encouragement at home or was being picked on at school, telling them they are extra special.
"I wanted to tell them that God loves them just the way they are. I think teachers accomplish so much."
Only when she entered university did she consider becoming a lawyer.
Bill Kenny is a partner with a national law firm that has an office in Edmonton. While in Edmonton, he tries to attend early morning Mass at St. Benedict's. When he is travelling and, if time allows, he looks for a church.
"I have my faith and it is very much a part of my life," he said.
Kenny grew up in Saskatchewan, obtaining his law degree from the University of Saskatchewan. He was called to the Alberta Bar in 1974.
He complimented Chief Justice Allan Wachowich for keeping the Guild alive since 1963. He says Catholic lawyers are a distinct group. They are not headline-grabbers who are intolerant of others' views.
"The one thing about being Catholic is that we know the truth hasn't been revealed to us so clear that we can pronounce it with that kind of confidence. We tend to be still searching for it. We tend to be lower key. Modesty is in order for us, and I think that distinguishes us from others who tend to stand and beat their breast."
Kenny emphasized he has met many non-Catholic lawyers who also give of their time to help the disadvantaged.
Elizabeth Tatchyn is the current president of the Guild. While attending law school at the University of Alberta, she was involved in an annual talent show that raised some $20,000 for Kids Kottage.
"It was a fantastic experience to be able to do something you love, get a benefit from it and be able to do something for others," said Tatchyn.
"That is the beauty of being charitable and giving. If I make a charitable act, I know it is beneficial for the person receiving it. But it also gives my heart and soul great joy."
Tatchyn says she attempts to include God in her practice every day, whether her clients are corporate clients or people of faith themselves.
"If I have a client who isn't someone of faith, then I don't openly discuss God or God's will. But I, in turn, always pray for my clients and a successful resolution. The clients of faith who God brings to me or I come to them, then I will say we will leave it to God and pray. So I'll pray in silence or a more vocal way."
Regardless of whether a person is a lawyer or a priest, practising your faith in your life's work is a daily duty, she said.
"No matter what you do, as long as you carry out your duty and offer up the hardships and the rewards to heaven, that is really what matters."
Tatchyn grew up in a modest home. Her parents told her if she wanted what other kids had, she would have to go to school to "climb the ladder."
Becoming a lawyer was her way to be a voice for the voiceless. "It stemmed, mainly, from my desire to want to be a voice for others; to be their advocate."
It is satisfying to represent people who have been wronged, she said. She feels a call from God when someone comes to her who she knows is a person of faith and who lives on a modest income.
She sees God in all facets of her life.
"If I had not become a lawyer, God's will would have motivated me in whatever profession I had chosen," she said.
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