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Life is Precious

It’s very difficult to think of a more charged conversation than one about terminating a pregnancy. I’ve recently found myself in this situation, where understanding where I stood and being able to defend my opinion, became a harmful confusion.

Elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. Who are we to decide whether somebody lives or dies? Personally, I disagree with pro-choice advocates who claim that it is a “woman’s body, and she has the right to do what she wants with it.” And though not all, but many abortion supporters, blame religion for all those who oppose pro-life, allow me to give you a few reasons as to why abortion is morally wrong without speaking of God.

First, abortion goes against Natural Law. This is the law of preservation that we have as individuals, to instinctively nurture and maintain our existence under any circumstance. Intentional extermination of a baby who is still in the womb is murder, and therefore contrary to nature.

Scientifically, we know that the unborn are substantial, unique, and living beings. A child who is still in the womb has its own DNA, its own heartbeat at 18 days, and its own blood type. Although many claim that unborn children are not “human beings” or are not yet “people,” there is proof that the moment of conception marks the beginning of a new life. Human life starts as an embryo, a zygote, and is a human being in development. We all began life this way.

When abortion is legal, an unborn child is deprived of her most basic civil right – the right to life! Any person who is a victim of violation has the right to speak up and defend themselves. However, due to location and development status, an unborn baby cannot defend himself. So who will speak up for the baby?

There are different situations and circumstances and uncontrolled factors that must be considered. Many talk about the right to abort if the woman is raped, or perhaps if the baby has been diagnosed with a major illness. To all this, I argue that a tragedy is not erased by another tragedy. You cannot relieve and forget the memories of a rape with abortion. And you cannot cure a child by killing him or her. Women who have been raped must be loved, and compassionately cared for; and if they are pregnant, compassionate care does not include execution of their children.

There is no criminal law against abortion in Canada and since 1988, the number of reported abortions has exceeded 2.5 million. Because abortions are funded by taxpayers – we are paying for the killing of unborn children.

Many women suffer from Post Abortion Stress (PAS) syndrome, which is a form of post-traumatic stress, and can potentially affect everyone around them. Experiencing an abortion, and living with the pain, grief and regret, is traumatic. So before a woman ultimately makes a decision to have an abortion, it’s crucial that she understands everything that’s at stake, and the lifelong consequences.

I am not trying to convince, or offend anyone, I’m simply speaking from my perspective in hopes of helping women who feel pressured to choose abortion. I am aware that abortion is never an easy decision for a pregnant woman to make, but knowing that there is help available for choosing to give life to the unborn, is also encouraging.

It’s not often that we find ourselves absorbed deeply in a conversation about abortion and therefore, we may not be very educated on the subject. After exploring more on this topic, I have become more convinced of the preciousness of life, and the urgent need to preserve it. Maria Ruiz is currently a grade 12 student attending St. Mary’s High School. Maria speaks three languages and plans to attend university and become a teacher. Born and raised in a Catholic family, she has a twin sister and is the second oldest of five children. Maria is actively involved as co-editor in her school’s newsletter as well as the anchor of her school’s TV channel.

Maria Ruiz is currently a grade 12 student attending St. Mary’s High School. Maria speaks three languages and plans to attend university and become a teacher. Born and raised in a Catholic family, she has a twin sister and is the second oldest of five children. Maria is actively involved as co-editor in her school’s newsletter as well as the anchor of her school’s TV channel.

Related Offices Carillon Life & Family Resource Centre (LFRC) Related Programs Project Rachel
Related Themes Abortion Life Issues

The Diocesan Detective Investigates St. Mary’s Church, Calgary

Father Lacombe was assigned as ‘Chaplain’ to the Canadian Pacific Railway work camps east of Winnipeg in 1880 by Archbishop Taché and for two years his ‘Sacred Heart Mission’ followed the progress of the construction as it moved west.

William C. Van Horne, Chief Engineer of the CPR, describes his introduction to Fr. Lacombe: “Near the Lake of the Woods one morning in 1882 I saw a priest standing on a flat rock, his crucifix in his right hand and his broad hat in the other, silhouetted against the rising sun… It was a scene never to be forgotten and the noble and saintly countenance of the priest brought it to me that it must be Fr. Lacombe of whom I had heard so much; and it was.”

Fr. Lacombe was already a legend to the CPR owners but he was equally in awe of them and the project they were undertaking. He was also keenly aware of the monumental impact the railway would have on the North West.

In his book, simply titled, Father Lacombe, author James MacGregor records the priest’s words: “I would look long in silence at that road coming on — like a band of wild geese in the sky — cutting its way through the prairies; opening up the great country we thought would be ours for years. Like a vision I could see it driving my poor Indians before it, and spreading out behind it the farms, the towns and the cities you see today.”

An entry in Fr. Lacombe’s journal about this time gives us an indication of his state of mind: “My God, send me back again to my old Indian missions… I am longing for that!” His prayers would soon be answered. Although he was not a fan of the rowdy conduct of the work crews, they obviously liked him… when he left, they chipped in to buy him a ‘horse and wagon’ outfit to take him back to St. Albert!

In 1882, Fr. Lacombe’s hopes were finally realized and Bishop Grandin of St. Albert appointed him Superior of the Southern Missions, based in Calgary.

His first priority was to make plans for the expansion of buildings at “Our Lady of Peace,” soon to be known as St. Mary’s, and to visit each reserve to assess its needs. It wasn’t long, however, before he was involved in more critical events of national importance.

By 1883, construction of the CPR had passed Medicine Hat and it was on its way to Calgary. The ‘right of way’ was infringing on the Blackfoot Reserve boundaries. Crowfoot and his fellow chiefs were threatening to resist any trespassing on their land… violence was possible.

When the government hesitated to act, Fr. Lacombe came to the rescue, taking advantage of his friendly relationship with Crowfoot. Without getting government approval first, he brought gifts and food out to the reserve and negotiated a land swap so that the tribe would be satisfied. The Canadian government happily complied with Fr. Lacombe’s compromise to keep the peace, and the directors of the CPR were grateful as well that construction would continue unimpeded.

When railway construction finally reached Calgary, Fr. Lacombe was invited to a luncheon with all the CPR executives in their dining car. To honour his contribution to the ongoing construction of the railway, President George Stephen resigned his leadership of the company and Fr. Lacombe was voted as honorary President of the CPR for one hour! He took immediate advantage of his situation and assigned himself two free passes on the trains, free freight for the Oblate Missions, and free use of the telegraph wires, for life!

Related Offices Archives Carillon Library
Related Themes Diocesan History Evangelization

The Seven Last Words of Christ

Devotion to the Seven Last Words, the seven last phrases Jesus uttered from the cross, can be traced at least to the twelfth century. St. Bonaventure made a commentary on them, the Franciscans helped spread their popularity, and soon promises of salvation were made to those who meditated on the Words. This devotion can appear a heavy, gloomy spirituality, dwelling on suffering and sin. And yet as Fr. Thomas Rosica points out in this small book of reflections there is much more here. These words – seven – the number of perfection – stand in relief against the silence of death.

The Cross is the pivotal point of our faith, the bridge between death and resurrection. The three hours Jesus spent on the Cross are sometimes marked by Christians in a Tre Ore liturgy. Fr. Rosica sets the scene for his reflections with Pope Francis’ powerful prayer at the conclusion of the Stations of the Cross in 2016. Here we see the Cross of Christ echoed in contemporary examples of evil and violence but also in the faithful response of those who love and serve, heroic and hidden.

Throughout the seven reflections Fr. Rosica reveals Jesus as the perfect model of forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. Even at this time of maximum agony, isolation, and disgrace he shows us how we can live. Using imagination, theological insight, and direct language Fr. Rosica, known to many of us through his work with Salt + Light, and recently in Calgary for Bishop McGrattan’s Installation rite, draws out the life-giving nature of the Words. For example, while I don’t suppose you are meant to have a “favourite” among the Last Words, in the light of these reflections mine is the third word. The scene at the foot of the cross that depicts the “small seed group” of the communion of the saints. In some ways, it is “the first real communion of holy people gathered around holy things,” in Christian understanding at least, and a foreshadowing of a Messianic people too numerous to count.

How can we look on such horror, let alone meditate on it? Don’t we see enough – on the news, in our own experience? The anguish of abandonment heard in the Fourth Word is but the beginning of Psalm 22 that in the end resounds with praise reverberating through time and encompassing the world. Suffering is not the end; because of Jesus’ death we experience resurrection with him.

Fr. Rosica makes the connection between Gospel revelation of Jesus’ passion and our lives today it a way that makes the traditional meditations of the Tre Ore service fruitful for all Christians young and old. Using anecdotes about Mother Teresa, and even a quotation from author Toni Morrison, these reflections explore the idea that our example can be, echoing Jesus, a point of embarkation or a foundation for others in their own journey to God. If we wish to be able to pray like our master Jesus at our own deaths then as Fr. Rosica says, we had better start praying these words now and “liv[ing] our way into that loving surrender of our lives to God.”

1 Forgiveness Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing Luke 23:33-34
2 Salvation Today, you will be with me in Paradise Luke 23:39-43
3 Relationship Woman, here is your son… Here is your mother John 19:25-27
4 Abandonment My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Matthew 27:45-46
5 Distress I am thirsty John 19:28
6 Triumph It is finished John 19: 29-30
7 Reunion Father, into your hands I commend my spirit Luke 23:44-46
Related Offices Archives Carillon Library
Related Themes Lent

One Rock: Celebrating Life in Christ

The blessings that have been born out of the One Rock Festival of Faith would not be possible if it were not for the donors and sponsors who back the festival on a yearly basis. In the Diocese of Calgary we have a lot to be thankful for, and particularly for the diverse and ever expanding programs for our youth and young adults. Over the last eight years our programs have expanded from 24 youth programs to more than 37, and young adult ministries encompassed either within these programs or attached to universities, and other post-secondary education facilities, and groups. Every year One Rock strives to reach those who are not only within these existing programs, but also those in the universities, who are not affiliated with a church community on a weekly basis, and to the wider community as well.

The number of Roman Catholics in the Diocese of Calgary has doubled in size over the last 19 years. This is exciting news, but it also means that it costs more to run the programs, and we need you to help us. Will you share of the abundance of what you have received as gift from God? Come and hear what your generosity does for young people, and how the festival has made a difference in their lives.


Bishop McGrattan and the One Rock team invite you to a Wine and Cheese event to hear of the great things that God has done for us, and to encourage you to step out in faith to share of your treasure.

Related Offices Youth & Young Adult Carillon
Related Themes Youth and Young Adults Youth

Project Rachel: Healing Journey to Peace after Abortion

Project Rachel is a healing journey of hope and forgiveness for anyone impacted directly or indirectly by the loss of a child through abortion. Although individual counselling is available, retreats are also offered for those seeking a safe place to work through their loss, grief and anger in a group experience. A retreat gives you the opportunity to hear how others have experienced similar feelings associated with abortion and how they have tried to cope. You discover that you are not alone and someone else understands your pain.

A retreat offers several steps of healing. Through the sharing of your personal story, you are able to examine your story, to come to a sense of forgiveness from God, to give that forgiveness to yourself and others, to connect with your lost child, to bond and to say good-bye for now, to move on with your life restored to the person God wants you to be. In this interactive group setting, you heal emotions that have been wounded. You remove anger and replace it with love; resentment, with kindness; despair, with joy; and fear, with peace.

Bishop Robert Barron once said, “God is much more interested in your future than in your past. We have a God who ‘makes all things new’ and in that we find hope.”

In John’s Gospel, he tells the story of the woman caught in adultery. The scribes and the Pharisees are preparing to stone the woman. Bishop Barron stated, “In one of the great one-liners of the entire Bible … Jesus disarms them by saying, ‘Let the one among you, who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’ [John 8:7]. … At this prompting, they drifted away, one by one, until Jesus was left alone with the woman.”

Bishop Barron continued, “Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.’ [John 8:11]. How rich is that little word ‘go’? Again, what is being emphasized is the future, not the past, on what lies ahead, instead of what lies behind.”

A Project Rachel retreat is an incredible healing journey where you will experience the healing grace and inner peace of God. So… go! Call (403) 218-5506, for more information and visit www.projectrachelsa.ca.

Related Offices Carillon Life & Family Resource Centre (LFRC) Related Programs Project Rachel
Related Themes Abortion
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