April 25th, 2017 - Bishop Colli is greeted by Pope Francis while on his 'ad limina' visit to...
February 3rd to 5th, 2017 - Teens from across the Diocese of Thunder Bay participate in this...
Bishop Colli celebrates the Feast of Christ the King at St. Patrick's Cathedral. This Mass also...
November 28th, 2016 - Series #4 - 'A Teacher and Guide for our Times.' is available on...
March 14th, 2017 - The Knights of Columbus gather in the reception area just before the Special...
Artifact - Vatican II Coins
Saint Ignatius of Loyola Artifact at the Diocesan Office
Chancery Office Entrance during the day.
Chancery Office reception area during the day.
The Pastoral Centre will be closed at noon on Friday, the 23rd. We will re-open on Wednesday, the 28th, at 8:30 am. The office will be closed again on Monday, the 2nd of January. Regular office hours will resume on Tuesday, the 3rd.
Each year as this wonderful feast comes round, we retell one of the most important stories of all history. We all know how children love stories. I recall when I was growing up, how stories of Hans Christian Anderson was one of my favourite books. We know that parents tell stories to their children, usually before bedtime, and of course we all love to hear stories of our family history and of how we came to be where we are today. The stories are more than remembrances in history, they are real and alive for us, they are a part of who we are.
Read the entire message here.
The Fall Diocesan newsletter is online. You can download it here.
Series #2, #3, and now #4 are now available on DVD.
Part 1 of 3 (September 2016) - Msgr. Pat Stilla - Scripture Series #4, A Teacher and Guide for our Times
Part 2 of 3 (September 2016) - Msgr. Pat Stilla - Scripture Series #4, A Teacher and Guide for our Times
Part 3 of 3 (September 2016) - Msgr. Pat Stilla - Scripture Series #4, A Teacher and Guide for our Times
New Arrival DVD - The Euthanasia Deception.
Call the Pastoral Centre (807) 343-9313 today to request the Monday Memo to be delivered to your inbox each week! Never again will you miss any of the exciting events happening throughout the diocese! Your life will be filled with faith formation and fun.
Fr. Luigi has started to do monthly movie reviews for the Adult Faith Office. These are all movies that are available for sign-out in our Adult Faith Formation Library. Visit the Adult Faith Office Monthly to get his latest review!
Msgr. Pat Stilla from St. Patrick's Cathedral in Thunder Bay, Ontario offer us his reflections on pity and the Pieta Chapel for his Year of Mercy Reflection.
Friday, November 18th, at 7 pm.
Saturday, November 19th, at 7 pm.
Sunday, November 20, at 3 pm
The full poster is available here and the Movie Trailer is below.
For tickets call the Diocese directly and ask for the Refugee Office.
Soon to be Saint Teresa Monday Memo Insert below.
The Summer Diocesan newsletter is online. You can download it here.
In this new video series several priests from our diocese have talked about their experiences with the Year of Mercy. In the below reflection Fr. Milton McWatch gives his reflection.
"I want to wish you all a very prayer-filled experience as you share in World Youth Days in Krakow - Poland. Sharing faith millions of other young people will be an experience you will never forget. Praying with Pope Francis at the closing Mass will bring you a true sense of the universality of the Catholic Church."
Fr. Ireneusz Stadler has put together a webpage for daily updates to the World Youth Day 2016 journey. You can see photo's, updates, and more. Visit the Our Lady Queen of Poland Church website.
In this new video series several priests from our diocese have talked about their experiences with the Year of Mercy. In the below reflection Fr. Alan Campeau reflects on the homeless.
My Dear Catholic People,
Today in Canada our government has put into effect a bill that will allow Physician Assisted Dying. Even though it was debated in the various houses of government, it is important for us, as Catholics, to reflect on what this means for us. To read the entire letter please download the PDF document or visit Bishop Colli's Bishops Public Statements
After meetings with his Diocesan Consultors and interviewing the priests involved, Bishop Colli announces the following clergy assignments:
Download the PDF here
Part 1 of 3 (April 2016) - Msgr. Pat Stilla - Understanding Scripture Series #3
Part 2 of 3 (April 2016) - Msgr. Pat Stilla - Understanding Scripture Series #3
Part 3 of 3 (May 2016) - Msgr. Pat Stilla - Understanding Scripture Series #3
May 16th, 2016
A perfect companion for the Year of Mercy “Do we believe that Jesus can heal us and bring us back from the dead?”—Pope Francis
Healing, in a word, is resurrection. “He forgives all your inequities, He heals all your diseases, He redeems your life from the pit, He crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (Ps 103:3-4).
Here retreat master, Ignatian trained spiritual director and author Kathleen Beckman offers a guide for a personal or group healing retreat based on Divine Mercy in Scripture and in the lives of the Saints. Beckman skillfully helps us to see how the “rays of divine mercy” heal families, marriages, the sick, poor, suffering, friends, enemies, laity, clergy, our vocations, doubters, believers, those with diabolical suffering, sinners, saints, the unborn, the elderly, children, the Church and the whole world.
Each chapter concludes with a “profile in mercy” – a reflection on a saint who was a vessel of mercy – including Blessed Mother Teresa, St. John Paul II, Cardinal Francis-Xavier Nguyen, Venerable Conchita Cabrera, St. Maria Goretti, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Gianna Molla, St. Faustina, St. Peter and the Virgin Mary.
Also contained in this book are scriptural spiritual exercises for healing:
From unforgiveness to forgiveness * From fear to trust * From anxiety to peace * From shame to mercy * From pride to humility * From powerlessness to prayer * From sin-sickness to the Eucharist * From spiritual weakness to the Beatitudes * From worldliness to works of mercy* From spiritual warfare to Christ’s victory * Healing the culture through works of mercy Believers long and desperately need to encounter the living, joyful, truthful majestic face of the Father of Mercy—healer and lover of humanity. These pages lead to a healing encounter.
May 16th, 2016
has also arrived at the Pastoral Centre for inquiring minds.
If people wish to make donations to assist the people of Fort McMurray due to the wild fire, they may do so through their local parish. The money is then to be sent to to the Chancery (like a special collection) and we will direct it to the St. Paul Diocese for distribution and use. Tax receipts are to be issued by the parish where the donation is made.
Donations of articles etc. should be done through the Thunder Bay collection effort at 822 Hilldale Road here in Thunder Bay.
On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously overturned a legal ban on doctor-assisted suicide. On April 14, 2016, the federal government introduced legislation (Bill C-14) that, if passed, will amend the Criminal Code to make Euthanasia/assisted suicide legal in Canada. Legislation is expected to be in place by June 2016. The entire pdf newsletter is downloadable here. This document is produced by Canadians for Conscience
April 18th, 2016
Today, the Government of Canada has introduced Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying). This proposed legislation, which responds to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in early 2015, will make euthanasia and assisted suicide legal and more accessible in our entire country.
April 11th, 2016
Pope Francis' latest Apostolic Exhortation "On Love in the Family." was released last week. We have attached a summary of the document here in PDF format.
Cardinal Collins has asked us to contact 5 - 10 people in our parish communities who will contact their MP's with a personal letter indicating their concern about Physician Assisted Death and the new law being formed by the federal government. To read more please download this PDF.
Dear People of Thunder Bay Diocese,
I will write this letter to you as a very concerned bishop about the proposed legislation now being prepared by the federal government on Physician Assisted Death. We know that the Supreme Court of Canada has legislated that this service is legal. To read more and see the entire statement please download the PDF here, or visit the public statements page.
The March Diocesan newsletter is online. You can download it here.
Part 1 of 2 (February 15th, 2016) - Dr. Bryan Thatcher - Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy
Part 2 of 2
The holy season of Lent is an opportunity for each of us to take stock of our relationship with the Lord and with each other. Pope Francis in his lenten message, uses the Gospel of St. Matthew to remind us that God expects mercy from us, and during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, lent is a most appropriate time to examine our works of mercy towards one another.....read the entire message here.
Year of Mercy related books are available at the Pastoral Centre. If you have a tablet or phone you can view the 'Year of Mercy poster here.'
Please see our 'Don't give up Chocolate' poster for books, crosses, and other items related to Lent!
“The people who walked in darkness, have seen great light”. These words arefrom the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading of midnight Mass. These words in a certainway reflect our own personal journey as followers of Jesus and members of His family. As a people we know that light and darkness touch our world and our lives. We live with darkness and sin daily, and we see it most evidently in the suffering inflicted on others by mankind himself....
The December Diocesan newsletter is online. You can download it here.
Bishop Colli speaks on the upcoming Year of Mercy starting December the 8th, 2015.
How to Understand and Interpret the Gospels by: Msgr. Pat Stilla (Also in the Adult Faith Section - Catechesis)
Part 3 of 3 - October 2015
How to Understand and Interpret the Gospels by: Msgr. Pat Stilla (Also in the Adult Faith Section - Catechesis)
Part 2 of 3 - October 2015
How to Understand and Interpret the Gospels by: Msgr. Pat Stilla (Also in the Adult Faith Section - Catechesis)
Part 1 of 3 - October 2015
Friday September 18th, 2015
Yesterday, we were at Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life. The Oratory is a special place of prayer, inspired .. To read the full statement click here.
Canadian Catholics are being called upon as citizens to exercise their right to vote. The Church encourages and
reasserts its belief in “the political freedom and responsibility of citizens.”1 By exercising their right to vote,
citizens fulfill their duty of choosing a government and at the same time send a clear signal to the candidates being
presented by the political parties....To read the entire document click here.
The September Diocesan newsletter is online. You can download it here.
The latest Diocesan newsletter is online. You can download it here.
Since the beginnings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, hundreds of thousands of Catholics across the country have been involved in its hearings, directly or indirectly, including members of our Church from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities, as well as non-Aboriginal Catholics. Some of these were involved in the actual work of the Commission, while many more participated in its national and regional events, but all shared deeply in the issues being raised, through their prayer, reflections and a deep sense of solidarity, compassion and justice. This past June 2, the Commission tabled its summary report and Calls to Action in the nation’s capital. We wish to share our immediate response as the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.....read the entire document here.
June 1, 2015
At the request of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, the Institute for Catholic Education has begun the task of developing resources to assist teachers, principals and Catholic School Boards in the implementation of the recently revised Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum. Writing teams have been established, and classroom teachers, consultants, program coordinators and administrators from Catholic Boards across the province will be working throughout the summer to produce the required materials.....Read the entire document here
I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today to represent the over 50 Catholic dioceses and religious communities that were in some way a part of the Indian Residential Schools System. While the legacy of the schools challenges the whole church, the government and the whole of Canadian society, in a particular way it involves us who are party to the Settlement Agreement and to the work of the TRC.
In their name I want to express our appreciation to the Commissioners who have worked tirelessly to lead us all in a very searching examination of conscience in regard to a painful period in our history. Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, thousands of former students, their families and communities have given voice to their experience and we have been forced to confront the great harm and depth of suffering so many experienced. Through them we have had to face the pain of our past and that work has not finished. We have heard stories of resilience and some have also offered forgiveness and expressed a desire for reconciliation. In this way, they have held open a door of hope.
The Commission has now presented all Canadians with Calls to Action. On behalf of Catholic entities, I receive these challenges and encourage others in our community to do so as well. In the next few months, I will be presenting these Calls to Action to all of the Bishops of Canada and to the Canadian Religious Conference as direction posts and milestones on the way to a reconciled future.
In the many events that I have attended, it has become apparent that the road will be long, but the end point is more than a faint hope. In Northern Alberta, where I now serve, people are strengthened by the prophetic words of Chief Poundmaker: “We all know the story of the man who sat beside the trail too long and then it grew over and he could never find his way again. We can never forget what has happened, but we cannot go back, nor can we just sit beside the trail.”
His prophetic words join with the encouragement of Pope Francis who reminds us that “God is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew”.
As the work of the TRC is coming to a close, we can say with humility that, while we may have not done enough, neither have we been sitting beside the trail. Through the TRC, Reconciliation Canada, Kairos, Returning to Spirit, the Oblate Justice and Peace Committees, the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs of the Western Catholic Bishops and in many other ways, we have been seeking and finding our ways of healing and reconciliation with our aboriginal peoples.
While the schools no longer exist, we have been learning how these former institutions are connected to the rupture that still exists in our relationships. We are learning that reconciliation is not only about the past, but is about our present need for justice, and it is about our capacity together to build a better future.
As we look to that future, we will continue to be committed to remembering the past, to working in the present for healing and justice, and to animating our work with the hope of a reconciled future.
+ Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R.
Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan
President of the corporation of Catholic Entities party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement (CEPIRSS)
Ottawa, June 2, 2015
 Petocahhanawawin (Chief Poundmaker), 1842-1886,
 Evangelii Gaudium Para 3
Would you like to keep up to date on the latest news about the upcoming World Youth Day 2016?
Join in and share the excitement with fellow pilgrims of the Thunder Bay Diocese.
Visit the website here, or from the youth section of our website.
A new video is online in the Adult Faith section called How To Interpret The Bible by Msgr. Pat Stilla. This was the last session of three hosted by the Diocese of Thunder Bay.
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” These words come from the Gospel of St. Mark and were addressed to the women who went to the tomb in the early morning to anoint the body of Jesus. They were reassured, when they did not find the body, that He was raised - and that they should now go and tell His disciples that they will see Him.
This story from the scriptures is about new life. It is appropriate that at Easter we celebrate new life. We celebrate the new life that Christ won for us through His death on the cross, and we celebrate the new life that springs forth as we share in this springtime season of the year.
Life is such a precious gift. We have all been in the situation where we have had a loved one die, so we recognize, in a special way, the gift of life and the value of this gift. So often within our world, we see the senseless destruction of human life through war, unrest, poverty, disaster, personal choice and greed. It is fitting that at Easter we are given an opportunity to give thanks for this gift and in particular to deepen our appreciation of this great gift that we share. Each day, as we prepare ourselves for the challenges that will come our way, we should give thanks to God for the gift of our life.
As we gather in many ways this Easter, as families, as faith communities, as neighbours, let us give thanks for all that we share, and let us be grateful for the great gift of life that sustains us. Let us also be determined in our efforts to protect and safeguard this gift, in each and every person, from the first moment of the conception of a new child to the eldest of our senior citizens. In this gift of life, we touch the life of God and it is for us a foretaste of the life that God has prepared for us in the kingdom.
Let us ‘not be alarmed’ when we feel discouraged or upset, but let us look for Jesus, the giver of life in one another. In doing so, we will truly experience the Easter joy that this most important feast brings. A holy and joyful Easter to all!
+ Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay
Released: March 24, 2015
Physicians and health-care providers are beacons of hope in our province and country. Drawn to this noble vocation out of a desire to serve those in need of healing, all of them, whatever their personal commitment to faith may be, have the right to act according to their conscience. And we all have a right to expect that those caring for us in our times of greatest need will be people of conscience.
Physicians and other health-care workers are often motivated by their deeply held religious beliefs. That was true of the founders of health care in Ontario, such as the Religious Sisters in the Catholic Church and faithful believers of other churches. To this day, in hospitals and in private practice, many medical professionals of different religious traditions are guided by their faith as they offer compassionate care to those who are suffering.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has recently amended its policy regarding “Professional Obligations and Human Rights”. In the section concerning limiting service for reasons of conscience or religious beliefs, the policy states:
“Where physicians are unwilling to provide certain elements of care for reasons of conscience or religion, an effective referral to another health-care provider must be provided to the patient.”
While the College may consider this to be a reasonable policy, it places an unjust burden upon physicians who are unwilling to be complicit in procedures to which they object for reasons of conscience or faith. Although exempted from personally doing the procedure, they are nonetheless forced to arrange for it to be done by another. That is not just. There are physicians from many diverse faith communities who will be unable to provide such referrals, since doing so will contravene both their religious beliefs and their conscience. For physicians of no faith the policy contravenes their conscience, if they object to the procedure for reasons of conscience.
As Archbishop of Toronto, I pastorally care for the approximately 1.9 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Toronto, and have the responsibility to provide authoritative guidance concerning the faith of the Catholic Church. Catholic moral teaching affirms that medical procedures such as contraception, sterilization, in-vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, abortion, physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are contrary to the dignity of the human person, and are contrary to Catholic faith.
For Catholic physicians and health-care workers, Catholic moral teaching provides normative guidance for their conscience. By insisting they provide an effective referral on these matters, in essence, the physician is being asked to serve as an accomplice in the procedure. It is clear that such physicians no longer enjoy freedom of conscience or religion in the profession to which they have dedicated their life’s work.
Surely, there is a way, as was the case with previous policies, to find a just balance between the rights of physicians and those of patients, where one does not trump the other. The cruel irony of the revised policy is that it will inevitably threaten the livelihood of physicians who entered the field because of their religious convictions.
For years, doctors with deeply held religious beliefs have been able to care for their patients with compassion and medical expertise; their tireless service rooted in competence and conscience has been a treasure for our community, especially for the most vulnerable. Thousands of submissions in the consultation expressed concern about such physicians being forced to provide effective referrals through which they are made to be complicit in actions to which in conscience they object. It appears, however, those expressions of concern have fallen on deaf ears.
It is my view that any health-care provider forced to provide an “effective” referral or perform a procedure contrary to his or her religious beliefs or conscience, no longer enjoys freedom of religion or freedom of conscience, as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have grave concerns about the plight of Catholic physicians, health-care workers and all of those motivated by their religious beliefs.
In St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis announced today, March 13, 2015, the celebration of an "extraordinary Holy Year". This "Jubilee of Mercy" will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 2015, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. At the start of the new year, the Holy Father had stated: "This is the time of mercy. It is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth!"
In the ancient Hebrew tradition, the Jubilee Year, which was celebrated every 50 years, was meant to restore equality among all of the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their personal freedom. In addition, the Jubilee Year was a reminder to the rich that a time would come when their Israelite slaves would once again become their equals and would be able to reclaim their rights. "Justice, according to the Law of Israel, consisted above all in the protection of the weak" (St. John Paul II, Tertio millenio adveniente 13).
The Catholic Church has given to the Hebrew Jubilee a more spiritual significance. It consists in a general pardon, an indulgence open to all, and the possibility to renew one’s relationship with God and neighbor. Thus, the Holy Year is always an opportunity to deepen one’s faith and to live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness.
With the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis focuses attention upon the merciful God who invites all men and women to return to Him. The encounter with God inspires in one the virtue of mercy.
The Words of Pope Francis:
“Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord's words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)”
This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – and living face of the Father’s mercy. I entrust the organization of this Jubilee to the Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization, that [this office] might animate it as a new stage in the journey of the Church on its mission to bring to every person the Gospel of mercy.
I am convinced that the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time. From this moment, we entrust this Holy Year to the Mother of Mercy, that she might turn her gaze upon us and watch over our journey.”
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Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins
re: Ontario Health & Physical Education Curriculum – February 23, 2015
On Monday, February 23, 2015, the Ontario government released its revised Health & Physical Education curriculum. The Ministry of Education has indicated the curriculum will be implemented in schools across the province this September. Below is a statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto and President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario:
“As Catholics, we understand that parents are the primary educators of their children, and that especially in the teaching of family life issues, the parental role is vital.
For more than 30 years, Ontario's publicly funded Catholic schools have provided a family life curriculum consistent with our faith. The goal is to present a Catholic view of human life, sexuality , marriage and family, complementing the efforts of parents to teach their children at home.
While Catholic schools have a responsibility to follow the curriculum set out by the Ministry of Education, they have always sought to do so in a way that conveys, respects and models Catholic Christian principles to our students. They will continue this tradition. A group of Catholic educators will produce resources that support Catholic teachers so that the new curriculum is implemented in a way that is consistent with our Catholic teachings and appropriate within the context of a Catholic classroom."
Since 1989, the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) has coordinated the implementation of the family life curriculum in publicly funded Catholic schools. ICE will serve as the point of contact for further media inquiries.
Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
Assemblée des évêques catholiques de l’Ontario
Frequently Asked Questions –
Revisions to Provincial Health & Physical Education Curriculum (2015)
As Catholics, we understand that parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children. The parental role in the teaching of family life issues is pivotal and vital. Catholic schools work with parents and parishes to provide students an education that is founded in the Gospel of Jesus, and reflects a Catholic world view. As the province implements a revised provincial health and physical education curriculum, we hope this information will help Catholic families understand how the new curriculum will be adopted in publicly funded Catholic schools.
Q. I’m concerned about the new “sex ed” curriculum that people have been talking about. How will it impact my children in a Catholic school?
A. The new curriculum is a revision of the current Health & Physical Education Curriculum, last updated in 1998 by the Ontario Government. For more than 30 years, all Ontario Catholic schools have successfully provided a family life curriculum within a Catholic framework, guided by the Catholic Bishops of Ontario through the Fully Alive program. Catholic Family Life Education is closely associated with Religious Education. In Ontario’s publicly funded Catholic schools, it accounts for 20% of the Religious Education program and is usually taught once a week. While we have a responsibility to teach the curriculum set out by the Ministry of Education in education policy, we have always done so in a manner that conveys, respects and models Catholic principles to our students.
Q. Can you tell me more about Family Life Education?
A. In Catholic elementary schools, Family Life Education is presented through the lens of Fully Alive. The program goal is to present a distinctively Catholic view of human life, sexuality, marriage and family. Fully Alive complements the efforts of families and to support what parents are doing at home. The entire program, from Grades 1 through Grade 8, is designed to encourage students to become the people God wants them to be – to be fully alive.
Q. Will the revised curriculum be presented from a Catholic perspective?
A. Yes. Working with Ministry of Education guidelines, Catholic schools use the Gospel of Jesus and the tradition of the Catholic Church as the starting point in our educational approach to all content. The vast majority of the content required by the revised curriculum is already covered within the Fully Alive program.
Q. Now that the curriculum has been released, what will happen next?
A. Catholic education professionals will work together to produce resources that support Catholic teachers and ensure the curriculum in our classrooms is consistent with our Catholic teachings and appropriate within the context of a Catholic classroom. The Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) will coordinate this work. ICE has been working on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario since 1989. The Ministry of Education has committed to provide funding to support the development of faith-specific resources and materials that will be appropriate for use in Catholic schools and will support Catholic teachers as they implement the revised curriculum.
Q. What about age-appropriate material?
A. Although some of the content from the existing curriculum has been reassigned, with the expectation that it be delivered in earlier grades, we are confident the revised curriculum will be delivered within the context of our Family Life program, in a way that is consistent with Church teachings and our faith tradition.
Q. How can I stay involved regarding the implementation of the curriculum?
A. We encourage all parents to maintain a healthy dialogue with local teachers and principals as the implementation of the curriculum takes place in September 2015. Information about the existing Family Life Curriculum, Grades 1-8 (2012) can be found at: www.iceont.ca (Institute for Catholic Education). If you would like to learn more about the current Fully Alive program, you can download this resource
online at: www.acbo.on.ca/fullyalive We all care deeply about the education of our students. We pray for parents, the primary educators of their children, weaving the thread of faith through their children’s personal development. Parents are encouraged to speak with their children regularly about their classroom experiences and nurture ongoing dialogue with teachers and school administrators. We entrust our Catholic schools to offer a holistic curriculum that is shaped by a Catholic world view and is faithful to the tradition and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
The latest newsletter (March 2015) is online.
Catholics are called by their faith to assist all those in need, particularly the poor, the suffering and the dying. Comforting the dying and accompanying them in love and solidarity has been considered by the Church since its beginning a principal expression of Christian mercy.
Helping someone commit suicide, however, is neither an act of justice or mercy, nor is it part of palliative care. The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada today does not change Catholic teaching. “[A]n act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, our Creator.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2277).
The Bishops of our country invite Canadians, especially Catholics, to do all they can to bring comfort and support for all those who are dying and for their loved ones, so that no one, because of loneliness, vulnerability, loss of autonomy, or fear of pain and suffering, feels they have no choice but to commit suicide. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops will continue to promote palliative and home care, and to encourage all the faithful to work for the betterment of the elderly, the disabled, the ill, and those who are socially isolated.
My brother Bishops and I entreat governments and courts to interpret today’s judgment in its narrowest terms, resisting any calls to go beyond this to so-called acts of “mercy killing” and euthanasia. We again call on provincial and territorial governments to ensure good-quality palliative care in all their jurisdictions. We also urge governments and professional associations to implement policies and guidelines which ensure respect for the freedom of conscience of all health-care workers as well as administrators who will not and cannot accept suicide as a medical solution to pain and suffering.
+ Paul-André Durocher
Archbishop of Gatineau
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
6 February 2015
"Make your hearts firm"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure… Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.
When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference.
Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.
God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded.
God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.
1. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26) – The Church
The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realize that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have “a part” with him (Jn 13:8) and thus can serve others.
Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor 12:26).
The Church is the communio sanctorum not only because of her saints, but also because she is a communion in holy things: the love of God revealed to us in Christ and all his gifts. Among these gifts there is also the response of those who let themselves be touched by this love. In this communion of saints, in this sharing in holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others. And since we are united in God, we can do something for those who are far distant, those whom we could never reach on our own, because with them and for them, we ask God that all of us may be open to his plan of salvation.
2. “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9) – Parishes and Communities
All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors (Lk 16:19-31)?
In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways.
In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897).
We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.
In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people.
Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity.
Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!
3. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians
As individuals too, we have are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?
First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, which I hope will be observed on 13-14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer.
Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.
Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.
As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.
During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.
It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you.
From the Vatican, 4 October 2014,
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
"I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this, the twenty-third World Day of the Sick, begun by Saint John Paul II, I turn to all of you who are burdened by illness and are united in various ways to the flesh of the suffering Christ, as well as to you, professionals and volunteers in the field of health care.
This year’s theme invites us to reflect on a phrase from the Book of Job: "I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame" (Job 29:15). I would like to consider this phrase from the perspective of "sapientia cordis" – the wisdom of the heart.
1. This "wisdom" is no theoretical, abstract knowledge, the product of reasoning. Rather, it is, as Saint James describes it in his Letter, "pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity" (3:17). It is a way of seeing things infused by the Holy Spirit in the minds and the hearts of those who are sensitive to the sufferings of their brothers and sisters and who can see in them the image of God. So let us take up the prayer of the Psalmist: "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90:12). This "sapientia cordis", which is a gift of God, is a compendium of the fruits of the World Day of the Sick.
2. Wisdom of the heart means serving our brothers and sisters. Job’s words: "I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame", point to the service which this just man, who enjoyed a certain authority and a position of importance amongst the elders of his city, offered to those in need. His moral grandeur found expression in the help he gave to the poor who sought his help and in his care for orphans and widows (Job 29:12-13).
Today too, how many Christians show, not by their words but by lives rooted in a genuine faith, that they are "eyes to the blind" and "feet to the lame"! They are close to the sick in need of constant care and help in washing, dressing and eating. This service, especially when it is protracted, can become tiring and burdensome. It is relatively easy to help someone for a few days but it is difficult to look after a person for months or even years, in some cases when he or she is no longer capable of expressing gratitude. And yet, what a great path of sanctification this is! In those difficult moments we can rely in a special way on the closeness of the Lord, and we become a special means of support for the Church’s mission.
3. Wisdom of the heart means being with our brothers and sisters. Time spent with the sick is holy time. It is a way of praising God who conforms us to the image of his Son, who "came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28). Jesus himself said: "I am among you as one who serves" (Lk 22:27).
With lively faith let us ask the Holy Spirit to grant us the grace to appreciate the value of our often unspoken willingness to spend time with these sisters and brothers who, thanks to our closeness and affection, feel more loved and comforted. How great a lie, on the other hand, lurks behind certain phrases which so insist on the importance of "quality of life" that they make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!
4. Wisdom of the heart means going forth from ourselves towards our brothers and sisters. Occasionally our world forgets the special value of time spent at the bedside of the sick, since we are in such a rush; caught up as we are in a frenzy of doing, of producing, we forget about giving ourselves freely, taking care of others, being responsible for others. Behind this attitude there is often a lukewarm faith which has forgotten the Lord’s words: "You did it unto me’ (Mt 25:40).
For this reason, I would like once again to stress "the absolute priority of ‘going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters’ as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm and as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God’s completely free gift" (Evangelii Gaudium, 179). The missionary nature of the Church is the wellspring of an "effective charity and a compassion which understands, assists and promotes" (ibid).
5. Wisdom of the heart means showing solidarity with our brothers and sisters while not judging them. Charity takes time. Time to care for the sick and time to visit them. Time to be at their side like Job’s friends: "And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great" (Job 2:13). Yet Job’s friends harboured a judgement against him: they thought that Job’s misfortune was a punishment from God for his sins. True charity is a sharing which does not judge, which does not demand the conversion of others; it is free of that false humility which, deep down, seeks praise and is self-satisfied about whatever good it does.
Job’s experience of suffering finds its genuine response only in the cross of Jesus, the supreme act of God’s solidarity with us, completely free and abounding in mercy. This response of love to the drama of human pain, especially innocent suffering, remains for ever impressed on the body of the risen Christ; his glorious wounds are a scandal for faith but also the proof of faith (cf. Homily for the Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, 27 April 2014).
Even when illness, loneliness and inability make it hard for us to reach out to others, the experience of suffering can become a privileged means of transmitting grace and a source for gaining and growing in sapientia cordis. We come to understand how Job, at the end of his experience, could say to God: "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you" (42:5). People immersed in the mystery of suffering and pain, when they accept these in faith, can themselves become living witnesses of a faith capable of embracing suffering, even without being able to understand its full meaning.
6. I entrust this World Day of the Sick to the maternal protection of Mary, who conceived and gave birth to Wisdom incarnate: Jesus Christ, our Lord.
O Mary, Seat of Wisdom, intercede as our Mother for all the sick and for those who care for them! Grant that, through our service of our suffering neighbours, and through the experience of suffering itself, we may receive and cultivate true wisdom of heart!
With this prayer for all of you, I impart my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 3 December 2014,
Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier