It is a very exciting time in our diocese as the newly created Religious Education curriculum is rolling out in all Catholic schools in Alberta! Growing in Faith ~ Growing in Christ is the fruit of a powerful collaboration of the Catholic Bishops of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. This new curriculum replaces the long standing Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ curriculum Born of the Spirit.
This new catechetical instrument which will be for grades one through eight is already being used by grades one, two and three. Within the next few years all grade levels will be available. This new program of studies is state-of-the-art as it embraces our Canadian Catholic milieu with our diverse ethnic communities and aboriginal peoples, as well as our Eastern Catholic communities such as Ukrainian Catholics and many more.
The program is organized in such a way as to journey with our children through the Church’s liturgical seasons, so that what they learn about how their faith is celebrated. This is reinforced by what they experience at Mass and in their Catholic school communities. The program includes a student text book, and an online component that students can share with their parents via their personal web portal.
Even the parish priest and his staff have a special parish web portal so that they can access and review what is happening at any grade level in religious education.
The program is also designed so that teachers who deliver the program will be personally enriched with materials specially researched to act as teacher enrichment resources. For the first time, we have a resource that can enrich the student, the parent, the teacher and the parish staff.
The Religious Education Office of the Diocese thanks Bishop Fred Henry for making this project a reality. Bishop Henry’s untiring efforts to seek out partners for collaboration, in order to bring this project to fruition cannot be exaggerated. As the Liaison Bishop for the Alberta Catholic Bishops, for the past 19 years, Bishop Henry has observed, validated, and put into motion all that was needed to help bring about a collaborated effort in producing the best catechetical resource we can have at this time for our school communities.
Bishop Henry spared no sacrifice or effort to meet, discuss, explore, dialogue, evaluate, and execute all that was needed to make this project a reality. On behalf of all the stakeholders within our diocese who, for years to come, will enjoy the many blessings of this rich and dynamic resource, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts and wish you God’s abundant grace and blessing for the years ahead!
On Saturday, September 24 the Diocesan Office of Religious Education gathered approximately 100 catechists at Holy Spirit Parish to celebrate the World Jubilee for Catechists. Following the special Mass, we listened to a marvelous presentation by Dan Lacroix on Fr. Albert Lacombe, whose centenary we are celebrating in Alberta this year. Fr. Lacombe was a zeal-filled catechist who brought the message of the Gospel to native people of our land. His “Catechetical Ladder” was one of the original catechetical tools used to help the native people of Alberta visualize God’s saving plan for humanity.
After our historical journey into our past (which will be shared in more detail in upcoming editions of THE CARILLON, starting in December) we were treated to a profoundly faith enriching presentation by renowned motivational Catholic speaker Michael Chiasson, and Erin, a young woman joyfully testifying to her own faith renewal. Michael and Erin’s faith witnesses re-enkindled the fire that motivates us to go out and spread the Good News to all we meet!
Many of the participants will be registering for our Diocesan Catechetical Certificate Program. The program has been running since its launch in the Holy Year 2000. The program consists of three levels that are presented from September until June each year. Hundreds have graduated from the program feeling more confident and empowered to share their faith with others by various means of catechesis: in RCIA; sacramental preparation; as Catholic school teachers; and in youth ministry and adult faith formation groups. If you are interested in learning more about your Catholic faith check out our Diocesan website: www.calgarydiocese.ca under Religious Education to register for the next session.
In times of grief and death, we as Christians turn to God and their community for comfort, support and strength. Regrettably, when grieving the loss of a pregnancy most parents are left in silent isolation with their sorrow. This loss is such a common occurrence that people may not appreciate the depth of the parents’ grief. For those who have experienced it, there is nothing common about the experience. For most women (and men), it is a devastating and painful event.
Why we need a ritual
As Christians, we bless God and give thanks for God’s work even and especially in times of sorrow. We give thanks for the gift of God’s presence, where we seek comfort, strength and courage to live through the sorrowful hours.
It is difficult to put pain adequately into words, but rituals speak beyond words alone because they consist of symbolic actions and language. They sanctify our experiences and entrust them to God’s loving care and compassion.
The rituals surrounding reproductive loss validate parents’ experience, give voice to their pain through prayers and lamentation, and create an environment for the community to gather with each other to offer supportive love. Through our rituals, moments of our lives become moments of the Church’s life.
Dignity of human persons
Regardless of whether the infant was baptized before death, Catholics know when life really begins. “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end” [CCC 2258].
Every human person, including the unborn, has been crafted in the image of our God. Our Catechism further notes that “being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone” [CCC 357].
It is therefore necessary for the church to express our care and act in accordance with our teachings about the sanctity of the unborn through our rituals and memorials. A farewell ritual and a dignified burial to recognize the life and death of a baby is not only appropriate but necessary whatever the age.
Gathering with the community
The grief from pregnancy loss often goes unspoken, as secrecy often accompanies the early stages of pregnancy. How can the community offer comfort when its members know nothing about the loss? Even when the grieving parents do share their loss, the many kind comments and sentiments expressed often fail to alleviate the sorrow parents feel.
The presence of the community is an important aspect of a ritual. When we come together as a community, we identify and recognize our woundedness. Our work is not to take grief away, but to be a real presence and strength to one another.
It is so very hard to heal alone. Christian rituals allow grieving parents to gather in the embrace of their divine community in Christ, for no one is independent as we share in the life of Christ through our baptism. Through our rituals, God reveals His saving initiative in Jesus the Christ, calling us to the assurance of eternal life through the dying and rising experiences of our life. Through our prayers, ministers and grieving parents are called to recognize and to accept their pain, transforming their expression of despair into signs of hope.
The Diocese of Calgary invites parents, their family and friends to attend the Memorial Liturgy for Miscarried or Stillborn Infants on Friday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church (1307 - 14th Street SW) in Calgary. For more information, please visit our website at: http://www.MiscarriageLiturgy.ca
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." James 1: 17
For the last three years now I have faced insistent questioning from my eleven-year-old daughter Sophie about whether or not there is a Santa. Her sense of hopeful wonder has been struggling mightily against the majority of her classmates and their clear certainty about the ruse. And as we talked this through I remembered and told her about a wonderful story I had heard. It was about a similar child who, upon hearing from classmates that Santa was fictional, fled to his matter-of-fact grandmother for the truth. His grandmother never sugar coated anything and he secretly feared that she would support his classmates. Instead, she insisted that Santa did exist and took little David to a general store to prove it. "Buy something for someone who desperately needs it," she said. "I'll wait in the car." And she left him there with ten dollars.
The young boy agonized over whom to pick. Then he remembered a classmate who never took recess because he couldn't afford a winter coat. So David grabbed a warm-looking jacket from the rack and placed it on the counter, explaining to the shop owner that it was for his friend Billy, who was destitute. The shopkeeper paused, and then packaged the $100 coat and placed it in the boy's hands. Needless to say the young boy was thrilled when he saw his friend on the playground wearing the new coat. When he told his grandmother she squeezed his hand and said: "Well done … Santa."
I have always bristled at the commercialization of Christmas, and especially the emphasis on gifts at the clear expense of Jesus who should be the heart of the season. So it is critical to remember, at this extraordinary time of year, that at heart we can all be Santa – if we remember why we give. I'm reminded of this when I look at all the caregiving organizations in Calgary alone. Each year, one of my favourite charities—the Our Lady Queen of Peace Ranch—opens its doors to the most disadvantaged families in Calgary for a remarkable Christmas party. Once at the ranch, children can load up on winter clothes, stuffies, food and Christmas cheer, all provided free of charge by the ranch's owners, and distributed by an army of volunteers. Each year St. Mary's University in Calgary sends scores of students, staff and faculty to this remarkable event. Last year almost one fifth of university students signed up to help!
So although I remain cranky at commercialization, I have no issue at all with the giving culture as long as it's wrapped in the spirit of good and the commitment to all that is the hallmark of Christ's teaching. In that context I remember the unsung Santas: certainly the volunteers, but also people like the shopkeeper or the owners of the ranch. And in that context I can comfortably say, Yes, Virginia and Sophie there really is a Santa!
Written by: Dr. Gerry Turcotte
The Diocesan Forum on Initiation provides resources and formation on issues related to Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults including initiation for unbaptised adults and children of catechetical age, initiation for those baptised in other denominations, and completion of initiation for baptised Catholic adults.
The Diocesan Forum in Initiation (the Forum) works through the Office of Liturgy and with the Religious Education Secretariat to carry out the Bishop’s mission of Christian Initiation in the Diocese. The Forum supports parish initiation teams by providing formation in initiation ministry, researching best practices, and building relationships with parishes. Members of the Forum are people of prayer with experience in catechesis and ministry. They have discerned a calling to this ministry and enjoy working as part of a team.