On the eve of the major celebrations of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) again posts possible homily ideas and prayers of the faithful to help link the Sunday liturgy with the national pastoral initiative for life and family. The proposed texts for the month of April 2017 include suggestions from the 5TH Sunday of Lent, 2 April, to the 3RD Sunday of Easter, 30 April. In addition, it includes suggestions for the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, Good Friday's celebration of the Passion of the Lord and the solemn celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday), 15 and 16 April. The 5th Sunday of Lent, 2 April, is Solidarity Sunday, the major focus for the Share Lent Campaign of Development and Peace / Caritas Canada and its annual Lenten collection, while Palm Sunday, 9 April, is the Sunday selected for diocesan celebrations of World Youth Day. As usual, the suggestions for homilies and prayers can be easily adapted for family prayer, as well as for personal prayer or for use with other groups or organizations. The texts for the month of April are available on the special Life and Family webpage, under the section "Documents and activities proposed by the CCCB".
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) will hold its national annual Seminar on 30 and 31 March 2017, in Gatineau, Québec. The 2017 seminar will be on the theme "Sex, Gender and Ideology". For further details regarding the program or to register, please call COLF at 613-241-9461, ext. 161.
Link to COLF's website
The Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life has released the Holy Father's Message for the 32nd World Youth Day, which will be celebrated in the Dioceses on 9 April 2017, on the theme "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name" (Luke 1:49). In his Message, Pope Francis makes the connection between the WYD and the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October 2018 on the theme "Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment". The Holy Father states: "We will talk about how you, as young people, are experiencing the life of faith amid the challenges of our time. We will also discuss the question of how you can develop a life project by discerning your personal vocation, whether it be to marriage in the secular and professional world, or to the consecrated life and priesthood. It is my hope that the journey towards the  World Youth Day in Panama and the process of preparation for the Synod will move forward in tandem." An abbreviated version of his video message is also available only in Spanish with text versions in English, French and Italian.
Link to Pope Francis' 2017 WYD message
Link to the text version of his video message
The Bishops from the Atlantic Episcopal Assembly have made their Ad Limina visits, 13 to 18 March 2017. As part of the visit, Pope Francis has received them them in a private audience during which they had the opportunity to present an overview of the life of the Church in their pastoral region. In the coming weeks, the rest of Canada's Catholic Bishops of the Latin Rite, as well as the Eparchial Bishops and Apostolic Exarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches whose Sees are based in Canada, will travel to Rome for their Ad Limina visits. The next regional group of Canadian Bishops to visit the Holy See will be the Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops, 27 March to 2 April 2017. Although traditionally scheduled every five years, the last Ad Limina visit for the Bishops of Canada was in 2006.
The website for the next World Meeting of Families (WMF) has been launched. The World Meeting will take place 21 to 26 August 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. The theme chosen by Pope Francis is The Gospel of the family: Joy to the world. The last World Meeting of Families took place in September 2015 in Philadelphia.
The 10th annual International Earth Hour will take place on Saturday 25 March 2017 at 8:30 p.m. The Roman Catholic – United Church Dialogue has prepared an ecumenical prayer service to help congregations, parishes, and other groups observe, in prayer and worship, International Earth Hour. The resource is available in French and English and is entitled Earth Hour Vigil. Earth Hour stems from a grassroots movement that began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. The goal of Earth Hour is to create greater awareness about energy consumption and to encourage communities to consider turning off their non-essential lights for one hour, between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, 25 March. The Earth Hour Vigil is an optional resource, and can be used flexibly on or around 25 March by parish communities and other Catholic groups who wish to engage with local ecumenical partners in organizing an event. The Roman Catholic – United Church of Canada Dialogue is sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and The United Church of Canada.
Link to the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil (PDF)
His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, has written to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, regarding the recent decision by the government to provide $650 million toward "sexual and reproductive health and rights". In his letter, Cardinal Collins states "that we have no rights at all unless we are afforded the right to life. That decision was made for you and for each one of us by a woman, determined and committed to bring a new life into this world." Concerns about the federal government's funding and its support for access to abortion have also been raised by the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton.
Link to the letter of Cardinal Collins
On 8 March 2017 the Government of Canada announced $650 million over three years for "sexual and reproductive health and rights". According to a backgrounder provided to the media, a major part of the funding will be toward removing "judicial and legal barriers to the fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health and rights". As cited by the Globe and Mail on 9 March 2017, a federal official has confirmed "these barriers include the anti-abortion laws in many countries."
The Archdiocese of Edmonton on 6 March 2017 was awarded a three-year accreditation by the international association Praesidium in recognition of achieving the highest standards in abuse prevention. Since 2010, the Archdiocese has worked with Praesidium to promote safe environments and best practices in abuse prevention throughout its parishes and institutions. "Today we are really recognizing many years of hard work and dedication that have led to this accreditation, and we are reinforcing the message that abuse will not be tolerated in our churches and institutions," said the Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton. Over the last six years, approximately 12,000 priests, deacons, seminarians, staff, and lay volunteers across the Archdiocese have received training in abuse awareness and prevention. Based in the United States, Praesidium specializes in abuse risk management and prevention.
Link to the news release of the Archdiocese
(CCCB – Ottawa)... His Holiness Pope Francis today named the Most Reverend Daniel J. Miehm Bishop of the Diocese of Peterborough. At the time of his appointment, he was Auxiliary Bishop of Hamilton. Bishop Miehm succeeds the Most Reverend William Terrence McGrattan who was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary on 4 January 2017. Since his installation as Bishop of Calgary this past 27 February, Bishop McGrattan serves also as Apostolic Administrator of Peterborough until the installation of the new Bishop.
The Canadian Catholic School Trustees' Association (CCSTA) recently named the Most Reverend Frederick B. Henry, Bishop Emeritus of Calgary, as recipient of its 2017 Justice James Higgins for his outstanding contribution to Catholic education in Canada. The award is the highest honour given by the CCSTA. In announcing the 2017 recipient, CCSTA President Mr. Marino Gozzola said that "Bishop Henry has been a champion for Catholic education across Canada, and especially in the provinces he has served, Ontario and Alberta." The award is named in memory of the distinguished Canadian jurist and Catholic school trustee, the Honourable Justice James Higgins (1913-1974) of St. John's, Newfoundland. The Board of Directors of the CCSTA annually presents the award to a person or group that has made an outstanding contribution to Catholic education in Canada. Bishop Henry will receive the award at the CCSTA annual general meeting and annual conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in June 2017.
Link to the CCSTA news release
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, announced a three-year funding of $28.5 million to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace / Caritas Canada (CCODP) to support its projects of humanitarian aid in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. In a news release published on 3 March 2017, CCODP Executive Director Mr. Serge Langlois states that with "the help of its partners Caritas Lebanon and Caritas Jordan, as well as partners in Syria, Development and Peace / Caritas Canada has been working to alleviate the intense suffering of crisis-affected Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Iraqis living through the hardship of war since 2011." The Government of Canada has been supporting CCODP humanitarian aid efforts in the Middle East since 2006.
Link to the CCODP news release
Link to the news release by the Government of Canada
The Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada, in collaboration with the Franciscan Family Center in Bethlehem, is offering this year a new resource for prayer entitled "Families on the Way of the Cross". Prepared by 14 families from the Holy Land and Canada, this pastoral resource unfolds the intimate experience of the Passion of Christ which many families today live through their many challenges. It also testifies to the Church's solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.