SASKATOON/KINDERSLEY/HUMBOLDT — Parishioners joined parish, deanery and diocesan leaders in reflecting on a number of issues and themes as part of Congress Day in the Deaneries, held recently in three locations across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
Presented in Saskatoon Feb. 28, in Kindersley March 7, and in Humboldt March 14, the 2015 Congress Day in the Deaneries included gathering feedback for an upcoming Synod on the Family in Rome, as well as a reflection on the Year of Consecrated Life, information about the dangers of assisted suicide and euthanasia, and a question-and-answer forum with Bishop Donald Bolen. Each Congress Day concluded with celebration of the eucharist.
Members of the diocesan Marriage Task Force led each Congress Day group in discussion of seven questions distilled from the synod document, The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.
The document is being used to generate reflection and input throughout the church in preparation for the worldwide Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to be held in Rome in October. Mary and Phil Wrubleski led the discussion in Saskatoon and Humboldt; Wanda and Lynn Freistadt presented in Kindersley (see related article).
Vocations Office co-ordinator Myron Rogal introduced the Year of Consecrated Life in presentations at both the Saskatoon and Kindersley Congress Days. In Humboldt, Rev. Geoffrey Young, a member of the diocesan Vocations Commission, led the presentation.
Proclaimed by Pope Francis and beginning on the first Sunday of Advent, 2014, the Year of Consecrated Life will continue until the Feast of the Presentation, Feb. 2, 2016 — which is celebrated each year as the World Day for Consecrated Life.
The purpose of this special year is to look to the past with gratitude, to live consecrated life in the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope, said Rogal. In a video message about her vocation, Sister April Mireau, PM, described consecrated life as living with an “undivided heart” focusing on Christ, who matters most.
Small groups discussed the witness of those in consecrated life and how the church grows by attraction rather than proselytizing. The session concluded with congress participants recalling the impact of consecrated religious in their own lives — whether sisters, brothers or priests in religious orders.
During each of the Congress Days in the Deaneries, guest speaker Mary Deutscher also gave an overview of the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
She described those who will be threatened if euthanasia and assisted suicide is legalized, detailed the failure of safeguards in jurisdictions where such killing is already legal, and focused on the need to expand palliative care to ensure pain relief and loving support is available to all Canadians facing illness.
Deutscher, a member of the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, has also served as a chaplain at Pasqua Hospital in the Archdiocese of Regina.
“If Canada legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide, there will be many vulnerable members of our community that will be put at risk,” she stressed, listing those suffering from depression and mental illness, the elderly, and persons with disabilities as those in greatest danger.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia do not exist in a vacuum. The impact on a person who is responsible for ending someone else’s life is not often considered in the public discourse about these issues, Deutscher said. “How will this affect our doctors, if they are asked to become killers instead of healers?”
Ensuring that every Canadian has access to effective palliative care is important, she said. “It’s not enough for us to say you can’t have access to euthanasia: we want to give people a better option. We want to look at ways that we can actually help people, so that these requests for suicide and euthanasia disappear.”