Bishops of Canada Reflect on the Challenges Facing Consecrated Life Today and on Co-Responsibility with the Laity in the Light of Evangelii Gaudium

Thursday, September 18 2014

(CCCB – Ottawa)… On the fourth day of the Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Bishops reflected on the challenges facing consecrated life today and on co-responsibility with the laity in the light of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The day also included the annual meeting of the CCCB French Sector, while a number of Bishops of the English Sector participated in a media formation workshop with Salt + Light TV. The daily Eucharistic celebration was held at the national Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré. The Bishops had the opportunity to tour the Shrine dedicated to the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It receives thousands of pilgrims and visitors each year, among whom there is an important presence from the Aboriginal communities from across Canada and the United States.

The day also included briefings for the Plenary on the situations in the Middle East and Ukraine. The Most Reverend Yousif Habash, Eparchial Bishop of Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese in the United States and Canada, spoke on the extreme difficulties in the Middle East. The Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, O.S.B.M., Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada, spoke about the crisis in the Ukraine. The Ukrainian Catholic Bishops of Canada have just returned from the Ukraine where they participated in a Synod of the Bishops.

Challenges Facing Consecrated Life Today

In the afternoon, the Most Reverend John Corriveau, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Nelson, B.C., led a panel discussion on the challenges facing consecrated life today. Father George Smith, C.S.B., General Superior of the Basilian Fathers and Vice President of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), was invited to present an overview of the current situation of religious life in Canada. In 2013, there were over 17,000 religious men and women in Canada. Fifty percent were over 80 years old and only one percent under 40.

The Most Reverend Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil and CCCB Co-Treasurer, presented the main ideas of an address by Sister Gaétane Guillemette, N.D.P.S., who had been scheduled to address the Bishops but was unable to be at the meeting of the CCCB Plenary Assembly. In the conclusion of her text, Sister Guillemette said that one of the challenges facing religious communities is to develop new ways of collaboration so as to be witnesses of the presence of Christ. Sister Guillemettte, a member of the CRC Theological Commission, has written a number of papers on the future of religious life.

On November 29, 2014, the Holy See will inaugurate the Year for Consecrated Life to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Perfectae Caritatis, the Second Vatican Council Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, promulgated on October 28, 1965. To celebrate this special year, the CCCB has invited the CRC to establish a joint committee that will recommend possible ways to to celebrate the Year for Consecrated Life in Canada.

Co-Responsibility with the Laity in the Light of Evangelii Gaudium

In the second half of the afternoon, the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine was invited to lead a session on co-responsibility with the laity in the light of Evangelii Gaudium. His Eminence Gérald Cyprien Cardinal Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec and Primate of the Church in Canada, the Most Reverend Christian Lépine, Archbishop of Montreal, and the Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg, joined the Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., Archbishop of Vancouver and Chairman of the Commission, in reflecting on this question.

Daily Briefings on the 2014 Plenary Assembly

For a third year, daily briefings on the Plenary were broadcasted in English and French on the Internet with the collaboration of Salt + Light TV. At the end of each day, Monday to Thursday, the CCCB Vice President, the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton, and CCCB Co-Treasurer the Most Reverend Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., Bishop of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, reviewed the day’s major topics and events. Tomorrow, the daily briefing will feature the CCCB President, the Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau, and Bishop Crosby.