There are many ways that our agencies bring the Gospel to life in all that they do. When a family receives counselling, a deaf child learns how to communicate with their family, a senior receives support to do their grocery shopping, a young couple is given support to bring a child into the world, or a developmentally challenged adult is given love and support in a friendly environment to live their life with dignity, we are indeed showing love for our neighbour. While these are some of the examples of how ShareLife funding makes a difference, I would like to share one story with you that demonstrates the impact of our generosity.
Mary Centre is an agency that serves the needs of developmentally challenged adults and their families. One of their programs, supported by ShareLife, is respite care, which gives families a temporary break from caring for a relative in order to sustain their own health and well-being. This can be done in home or through an outreach program hosted at St. Bernard’s residence. With people living longer, many people facing developmental challenges are being cared for by parents who are aging and facing their own living challenges. Here is the story of Patty, a developmentally challenged adult with behavioural concerns who also has diabetes.
Patty was brought to the respite program at Mary Centre by her mother, who was herself living in long term care and in poor health. At the age of 43, Patty was placed in a Long Term Care facility where she was the victim of abuse. Two years later her family wanted to remove her from this environment, and she was referred to St. Bernard’s residence at Mary Centre. Patty stayed here for two years and through care and compassion from the staff was given a safe environment and was able to build trust in others and know that she would not be hurt anymore. She developed social skills, self-confidence and strong will and determination. A new agency was found to provide Patty with a permanent home, but her stay there was short-lived — the new staff found her to be disruptive and non-compliant, and she was returned to Mary Centre’s respite program. While our agency wanted to keep her, unfortunately there were no permanent spots available in their homes. Eventually, a new home was found for Patty, and Mary Centre staff helped with the gradual and gentle transition to her new residence.
Mary Centre offers a respite care program that is a perfect situation for a loved one to have a safe, loving and caring temporary place to stay. This is becoming a major issue that most of us don’t realize or hear about – in fact, Mary Centre recently reported to us that over 30 adult children have been abandoned by parents within the developmental services sector because of the exhaustion and frustration that families experience while waiting for service and support. This makes services such as Mary Centre’s respite program, which is supported by ShareLife funding, all the more important, as it gives families the opportunity to experience relief in a challenging situation.
Patty’s story is but one of many that happen across our network of agencies. When Jesus commanded us to love one another as I have loved you, he was speaking about situations like this one, and our Catholic response through a ShareLife funded program demonstrates just how we Live the Gospel every day in all that our agencies do.
ShareLife has allocated over $13.685 million to our agencies in 2017, an increase of over $1.2 million dollars over the past two years. Whether it is people like Patty, the young boy attending summer camp for the first time at Camp Ozanam, the young man suffering from addictions seeking treatment through the Good Shepherd Centre’s DARE program, or the young mother raising her child alone with the support of Vita Centre – all of these are our neighbour, and we extend the values of our faith to them as they turn to our agencies for help. One of our new initiatives this year is a pilot project in six parish communities across Peel Region and Simcoe County to care for isolated seniors through a volunteer based friendly visitor program. ShareLife is allocating new funds to support the implementation of this program and the training of local volunteers, and also supporting in part the local cost of hiring parish based program co-ordinators.
Letter from Cardinal Collins to Prime Minister Trudeau re: “sexual and reproductive health programs”
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons, Ottawa
March 10, 2017
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
I am writing to express my deep concern and disappointment at your government’s decision to provide $650 million to support “sexual and reproductive health programs” globally. While it is commendable and necessary to foster initiatives that further the rights of women and young girls worldwide, your public comments suggest that unless a woman has access to abortion or contraception, she is not empowered or able to realize her full potential.
I simply remind you and your colleagues that we have no rights at all unless we are afforded the right to life. That decision was made for you and for each one of us by a woman, determined and committed to bring a new life into this world.
It is praiseworthy to offer international aid; it is arrogant for powerful, wealthy nations to dictate what priorities developing countries should embrace. Pope Francis has cautioned the rich and powerful West against the danger of “ideological colonization,” in which such countries and organizations offer funding to help further a particular social agenda. Do we empower women by making sex selective abortions more accessible? Money spent on promoting abortion and contraception could be spent on vaccinating millions of women and girls against malaria or other diseases. $650 million could help build a lot of schools or universities, pathways to knowledge for future female leaders of our world.
Our country could learn from a number of inspiring examples of outreach and care that support women worldwide. Very often these programs are offered by faith-based, non-governmental organizations, which are usually the first to arrive and the last to leave any area of crisis or need. They understand the reality of the local situation, and respect the dignity of the people who live there.
Canada is blessed with prosperity and a wealth of resources. Surely we can do better than imposing a distorted vision of the empowerment of women on the people of countries that deserve our support to respond effectively to the challenge of their most pressing needs.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you regarding this critically important issue.
Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto