You might remember that some time ago, all parishioners of the Calgary Diocese were invited to participate in a survey on family life. This survey was distributed to all Catholics throughout the universal Church. The completed survey questionnaires were collected by each diocese. In Canada, each diocese forwarded results to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The survey results were then sent to Vatican City in Rome.
The fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, also referred to as the Synod on the Family, took place from October 4 to October 25, 2015. The topics of this gathering were the vocation and mission of the family in the church and in the contemporary world.
The 2015 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family was preceded by the Extraordinary General Assembly in 2014. The result of both assemblies was publicly released by Pope Francis on April 8, 2016 in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, entitled Amoris Laetitia. The document features nine chapters beginning with In the Light of The Word and ending with The Spirituality of Marriage. It deals with the experiences and challenges of families, love in marriage, pastoral perspectives, the education of children and more.
I challenge you to read this document in its entirety. The materials including a study guide can be obtained on the Internet (Google: “Amoris Laetitia” and “Study Guide to Amoris Laetitia”) or through the Life & Family Resource Centre of the Calgary Catholic Diocese. We also offer the document in book form. Phone Gabriele Kalincak at (403) 218-5504 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested Family or Parish Activities
(best practice to study this document is one chapter at a time – weekly or bi-weekly)
- Attend a study group.
- Initiate a study group.
- Join a ministry that reflects what you have learned from this document.
- Many couples choose the reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians [1 Cor 13:4-7] to be read at their wedding. You can meditate on it in chapter 4.
- Make a list of one or more changes you want to implement after reading each chapter.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Help us to understand the true meaning of the teachings that Amoris Laetitia provides. May we grow in love and understanding of our faith, values and traditions. This we ask through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. LFRC, Carillon
Diocesan Marriage Ministry Committee
The Calgary Diocesan Marriage Ministry Team is committed to collaborate on the shared vision of Christian marriage, exchange experiences and share resources.
Presently this ministry enjoys representatives of
- Calgary Diocesan Marriage Enrichment Presenters
- Catholic Engaged Encounter
- Catholic Family Services Marriage Preparation
- Couples for Christ
- For Better and For Ever Lead Sponsor Couples
- Marriage Encounter
- Spousal Encounter Movement
- Life & Family Resource Centre
Feel free to contact the Life & Family Resource Centre at 403-218-5504
If you are involved in the ministry of marriage preparation or marriage enrichment and want to join the diocesan team have questions about how you can get the ministry started in your parish have questions on any aspects of the ministry of marriage preparaton if you would like to attend a marriage enrichment workshop\
Life Education Committee
Strengthens and coordinates pro-life educational initiatives in the Diocese of Calgary.
The Diocesan Life Education Committee coordinates and supports initiatives that educate on the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death.
The Diocesan Life Education Committee consists of representatives of various agencies and organizations involved in public education on the life issues. The Chairperson of the Diocesan Life Education Committee is the Director of the Life and Family Resource Centre. It is the responsibility of the Chairperson to approve membership on the Diocesan Life Education Committee.
Presently this ministry enjoys representatives of:
- Father Lucas Drapal, Chaplain
- 40 Days for Life
- Calgary Catholic Medical Association
- Calgary Life chain
- Calgary Pro Life
- Couples for Christ
- Diocesan Catholic Women's League
- NFP Billings
- NFP Serena
- Pastoral Care workers
- Life & Family Resource Centre
- Maintain working relationships with local pro-life groups and agencies
- Taking action to raise awareness of the issues that compromise respect for life and marriage in the Diocese of Calgary
- Provide educational opportunities and time for sharing program information among committee members
- Support local programs that counsel and assist women with problems related to pregnancy
- Support Project Rachel as the Diocesan post abortion ministry
- Encourage and support local programs that provide care for the dying
- Promote prayer and formation for the protection of human life from conception until natural death
The Diocesan Life Education Committee will meet no less than three and no more that six times a year for the purpose of facilitating the committee objectives. Members are expected to attend regularly scheduled meetings. A member who misses two consecutive meetings without excuse will be contacted to inquire about their ongoing participation.
Calgary Catholic Medical Association
For Catholic Health Care Professionals (Physicians, Dentists, Nurses, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Physiotherapists, Respiratory Therapists, Chiropractors, Chaplains, Pastoral Care Workers, etc.).
The committee meets on the first Saturday of each month at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. An annual general meeting for all members takes place in the spring.
The mission of the Society is to promote and foster Health Care Professionals’ personal and professional growth in the Spirit of Christ and to bring that Spirit to all those under their care.
Presently this ministry enjoys representatives of:
- Father Michael Storey, Chaplain
- Other related health professionals
- Life & Family Resource Centre
Societal goals include the provision of a forum for Catholic Health Care Professions within which they can examine the provision of care in our society. Through personal formation, they can bring the Spirit of Christ into the context of their practices and build a framework of care. This framework will incorporate the teaching of the Catholic Church into daily professional practice.
The CCMA is open to and inclusive of all Health Care Professionals including physicians, nurses, clinical counsellors, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, clergy especially hospital chaplains, as well as lay persons dedicated to hospital pastoral care.
The goals of the society are promoted through regular monthly meetings as well as special events, conferences which highlight bioethical and other formative topics.
The society encourages a liason with other Catholic medical and healthcare organizations such as the Catholic Medical Association and participation in meetings and periodicals, as well as links with other similarly orientated organizations in Canada and the United States.
The CCMA functions within the Diocese of Calgary with the Bishop’s support through the Life and Family Resource Center.
The CCMA is represented on the Diocesan Life Education Committee.
Calendar of Events:
CCMA meetings are held once a month (except July and August) on a Saturday morning from 9:45-11:30 am at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, 120-17 Avenue SW. For more information contact 403-218-5504.
Upcoming CCMA Meetings and Events:
- December 3, 2016: Update on where things stand given the current legislation on medical assisted death. Speaker: Dr. Leonie Herx (MD, PhD), Palliative Care Physician and Member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.
- January 14, 2017: Talk on the topic of how our health professionals can be equipped with the means to support their patients without compromising their Catholic faith, followed by questions, discussion, and information exchange. Speaker: Dr. Moira McQueen (LL.B, M.Div, PhD), Executive Director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute.
- February 4, 2017: CCMA Meeting
- March 11, 2017: Talk on Mental Health, Assisted Suicide, and Euthanasia followed by questions discussion, and information exchange. Speaker: Dr. William Sullivan (MD, PhD), Family Medicine Physician and foundaing director of the International Association of Catholic Bioethicists.
- April 1, 2017: CCMA Meeting
- May 13, 2017: Discussion on considerations when providing healthcare to First Nation Canadians with special guest Marjorie Littleleaf, an Elder of the Tsuu T'ìna Nation and Former First Nation Health Community Liaison and Health Educator. Note that this meeting is held in the rectory of St. Mary`s Cathedral, 219 - 18 Avenue SW, Calgary.
- June 10, 2017: CCMA Meeting
- Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada: www.ccbi-utoronto.ca
- The National Catholic Bioethics Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA: www.ncbcenter.org
- The Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies: www.canadiancatholicphysicians.com
- Canadian Physicians for Life: www.physiciansforlife.ca
- Catholic Medical Association (USA): www.cathmed.org
- Psychologists Association of Alberta (PAA): www.psychologistsassociation.ab.ca
For more information or to join, please contact the Life & Family Resource Centre by calling 403-218-5504.
Edmonton, September 14, 2016 The Roman Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories have issued some new guidance for priests, deacons, and pastoral workers in caring for individuals and families in difficult contemporary situations.
One document aims to answer the call of Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, particularly to assist priests in their duty to accompany those Catholics who are divorced and remarried without having received a decree of nullity.
The other follows the legalization in Canada of assisted suicide and euthanasia (“Medical Assistance In Dying”), and focuses on spiritual and sacramental considerations in caring for individuals and families who may be considering death by these means.
“The ultimate aim of these guidelines is to help the faithful understand the beautiful teachings of the Church on sacramental marriage, the dignity of the human person, and the inviolable sanctity of human life,” said Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, who serves as president of the Alberta-NWT Bishops.
“We know that many Catholics, often due to the messages they receive through the secular culture, have come to some serious misunderstandings around life and family issues,” he said.
For example, a Catholic who is divorced and remarried without having a decree of nullity for their first marriage may be under the misapprehension that they may receive the Eucharist as long as they simply speak to a priest (there is more to it than that). Another example would be someone who sees assisted suicide or euthanasia as a gesture of mercy (rather than a grave sin), and asks for the Sacrament of the Sick on behalf of a loved one who plans to die this way.
“When our people face these very difficult life situations, we want our priests and our parishes to be well prepared offer them a listening ear, patient understanding, and good spiritual guidance – to be the kind of ‘oases of mercy’ the Holy Father talks about,” Archbishop Smith said.
Both are dated on the Feast of the Exaltation ofthe Cross and signed by the six bishops who serve a Catholic population of more than one million in five Catholic dioceses:
- Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton
- Most Rev. Gregory J. Bittman, Auxiliary Bishop of Edmonton
- Most Rev. Frederick Henry, Bishop of Calgary
- Most Rev. Gerard Pettipas CSsR, Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan
- Most Rev. Paul Terrio, Bishop of St. Paul
- Most Rev. Mark Hagemoen, Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith
The guidelines can be viewed here:
- AB-NWT Bishops' Guidelines for the Pastoral Accompaniment of Christ's Faithful who are Divorced and Remarried Without a Decree of Nullity
"Effective Co-Parenting: Putting Kids First" is a program that encourages separated and divorced parents to exercise this concern for their children and to put the needs of the children first as the family adjusts to a new type of lifestyle in two separate homes.
- Do you want to remove your child(ren) from the divorce conflict?
- Do you want to be able to engage in relevant, focused discussions about the child(ren)'s needs with the other parent?
- Do you want to move from parenting disrupted by divorce to effective, business-like co-parenting with appropriate boundaries and rules?
Separated or divorced parents must learn how to effectively co-parent with their child(ren)'s other parent. For some, this may come naturally, but for others it can be a huge challenge. Fortunately, help is available. Separating and divorcing parents can access assistance to ensure that the best interests of their children are protected throughout the process.
Developed in 2003 in Calgary, "Effective Co-Parenting: Putting Kids First" is intended to:
- help adults learn to co-parent effectively for the benefit of children during separation and divorce;
- help parents learn new skills and apply them to their own unique situations;
- increase parents' knowledge on how to reduce the main stressors of separation and divorce on children; and
- encourage allowing children to maintain access to both of their parents and extended families in spite of this life change.
In this program, we consider the various ages and stages that all children go through. Participants who have children of similar ages break into smaller groups. In a family experiencing separation or divorce, there usually end up being two sets of rules or expectations as the parents start to parent more independently rather than together. As part of "Effective Co-Parenting: Putting Kids First," we discuss the best ways to establish clear discipline limits, stick to normal routines, and attempt to establish consistency between the households.
This program involves examining the qualities of good communication, such as attentive listening, good eye contact, mutual respect and courtesy. Changing the communication from an intimate and personal level to more of a business-type exchange can help co-parents express information about their child(ren) while establishing and maintaining new boundaries.
Past participants have said:
- "I appreciated learning tips and ideas about how best to communicate with my children's father."
- "I learned that I am not alone in dealing with separation/divorce – the support, encouragement and hope was great and the group discussions allowed us all to learn."
- "I was concerned about the statistics that indicated high numbers of children with divorced parents experience depression, anxiety, problems with authority, school difficulties, and addiction issues, but now I have a better understanding of how to avoid the pitfalls and am confident that my children can grow up to be well-adjusted if my former spouse and I can work together in their best interests."
Many parents have benefited from "Effective Co-Parenting: Putting Kids First". It is non-denominational and provides a resource for families during the difficult adjustment period that accompanies almost any separation and divorce.
For more information or to register, please contact the Life and Family Resource Centre
Phone: (403) 218-5505 or email email@example.com
The ministry of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal in dealing with marriage is to care for the dignity of marriage and to work for the good of persons. It is a part of Church’s healing ministry.
Pope Francis has significantly altered the process for those seeking annulments with the release of two formal documents signed by the Pope known as motu proprios: “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” and “Mitis et misericors Iesus.” The Vatican released the texts of these two papal documents on the feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8, 2015 and these changes came into effect on the opening day of the Jubilee of Mercy and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2015. These changes help to make the annulment process more accessible and less time-consuming.
An annulment is technically known as a “declaration of nullity of a marriage.” It is a process where the Judges come to a decision of the validity or invalidity of the marriage, evaluating the collected proofs based on moral certitude. This entire process is guided by the Code of Canon Law. Many people who journey through the complete nullity process find emotional healing and a better understanding of themselves and of others. It is a great help in rebuilding their lives in order to face the future with hope and trust.
Pope Francis desires that the Catholic couples that wait for the clarification of their marital state may not be “oppressed for a long time by the shadow of a doubt.” He states that he was not “promoting the nullity of marriages, but the quickness of the process, as well as a correct simplicity.” He believes that while a judicial process is necessary for the judges to come to a moral certitude to make decisions, the marriage annulment process must be quicker and cheaper. Hence he has significantly altered the process. Most of these changes are procedural and technical. A few significant changes are:
1) Two decisions (Diocesan or Inter-diocesan and the Appeal Tribunal) in favor of nullity of a marriage are no longer required. The decision of the Tribunal of the first instance is final unless there is an appeal.
2) While the formal process remains, a new shorter process was introduced for the bishops to personally judge on cases where things are evident for the nullity of a marriage.
3) The laws on competence were changed, giving an opportunity for the petitioner to present a case in the Diocese where he or she resides.
In this Jubilee of Mercy (December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016), as the Church desires to extend Christ’s Mercy for the salvation of the Faithful and God’s people, the Diocese of Calgary will not collect a fee to offset the cost of a Declaration of Nullity of marriage. However, as one may well appreciate, fixed costs remain as a part of the process; therefore, a donation is always most welcome and received with gratitude.
The preliminary study form can be accessed through www.edmontontribunal.ca. The form has to be filled out and submitted by your pastor, associate pastor or deacon and then forwarded to the Tribunal at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Calgary.