This morning began with an interview for the program "Building a Civilization of Love" (produced by Laura Cirami and hosted by Frank Ruffolo on Toronto's AM 530 radio). The conversation topics were on the coming March for Life, celebrating Mass with politicians, the Year of St. Paul and next weekend's Youth Summit in Quebec.
Afterwards, I met with the English-sector's Regional Vicars, who act as a Personnel Board, to finalize upcoming priestly nominations; there are still a few finishing touches to be added, but it seems the list of clergy transfers will be complete in the next two weeks (taking effect generally on August 1).
Supper guests were Marc St-Hilaire and Hortensia Lopez, consecrated members of the Focolare Movement founded by the late Chiara Lubich and her associates in Trent, Italy just after World War II.
This was my first meeting with Hortensia who oversees the women's branch in Canada (after a number of years in the USA), but my first encounter with the male branch head Marc goes back to the mid-1980's when he and I were both much younger. Both are based in Toronto and inform me there is a very small number here in Ottawa (with a few others across the Ottawa River in Gatineau) who follow the Spirituality of Unity tied to the monthly "Word of Life" Chiara wrote. I hope that a spark of life will encourage this powerful Christian vision to revive in the Capital.
They brought me a gift: a small book, No Thorn without a Rose: 99 Sayings by Chiara Lubich. A saying from 1948 opens the work, one that summarizes her spiritual gift to the Church--a different way of expressing the Paschal Mystery:
The book of light that God is writing in my soul has two aspects: A luminous page of mysterious love: Unity. A luminous page of mysterious suffering: Jesus forsaken. They are two faces of the same coin.
This evening saw the opening of the inaugural session of what is hoped will be the First Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies (CFCPS) at the Bruyere Health Centre a few blocks away from the Cathedral. Dr. John Haas, Director of the (US) National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia gave the opening address.
Despite the fact that one of his eight daughters will be married tomorrow, Dr. Haas travelled here and spoke passionately about the challenges to Christian medical personnel in the 'States and Canada ("Conscience: What It Is and How It Works") Dr. John and Mrs. Barbara Gay and Dr. Tim Lau are owed a great round of thanks for this daring step of bringing the challenges facing conscience to the fore.
PASTORAL LETTER ON CATHOLIC EDUCATION
This is Part 4 (of 4)
The Ontario Context
We must never take the sacred gift of our Catholic schools for granted. Many parents have chosen Catholic education for the reasons that I have highlighted above. Public schools provided quality education but have no mandate to integrate religion or spirituality into the process. For Catholic schools, addressing the spiritual development of the child is a requirement, one that is taken on with joy and commitment.
Furthermore, Catholic schools provide a faith-based moral framework to deal with a wide spectrum of life issues including relationships, sexuality, poverty, peace and justice. This framework is integrated into all areas of study.
The future of Catholic schools depends on our appreciation of the distinctiveness of Catholic education, and on our willingness to stand and defend Catholic education should that time come.
Words of Thanks and Blessing
I wish to express my deepest thanks to parents who entrust their children to Catholic schools. Be assured that they are being provided with a quality education that responds to all their needs, including an education in faith, morality and justice.
My deepest thanks also go to the teachers, administrators and staff of our schools: May God continue to bless all your work. You help to bring love, hope and faith into the world, honouring the sacred dignity of all persons, building our Church community and a more just world.
To our students: we call you to a richer and deeper life that you will live through your encounter with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your families, schools and parishes. Through a Catholic education, we trust that you will become a responsible citizen, a reflective and creative thinker, a caring family member, a discerning believer formed in the Catholic faith community.
A Catholic education will help you to make decisions with an informed moral conscience in the light of gospel values. We hope that you will become the best persons that you can possibly be, living life to the fullest, blessed by our loving God.
May God continue to bless all of our parents, all of our children, all the teachers and school staff, the administrators and trustees of our Catholic schools. May God bless them with faith, hope and love as we journey together in Jesus Christ.