WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Michèle Boulva says we need to take Christ to our families, friends and co-workers
We are all called to be saints, which means being and acting like Christ, according to Michèle Boulva, director of the Ottawa-based Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).
As saints of the third millennium "we are called to sanctify others in the world through our work."
Boulva said becoming a saint is not complicated because it is done with God's grace and the help of prayer, the reading of God's word and the sacraments.
A saint, she said, would have the same hopes, feelings and desires as Christ. "It's trying to be like Christ because we are children of God through adoption; and through our Baptism."
Boulva was the keynote speaker at the conference of CÉFFA, the Council for Catholic Education for Francophones in Alberta, at École Maurice-Lavallèe Nov. 1-3. She gave three presentations at the three-day event – all focusing on the theme Building a Better World Together.
Almost 260 people registered for the conference, including teachers from francophone Catholic schools across Alberta, school administrators, people who work in francophone parishes as well as parents and grandparents. The conference is held every three years.
Boulva joined COLF in 2004 after having worked in public relations and as a journalist for La Presse of Montreal.
Co-founded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the supreme council of the Knights of Columbus, COLF's mission is to build a culture of life and a civilization of love by promoting respect for human life and dignity and the essential role of the family.
"We are called to be saints and we are called to be apostles; all of this, of course, is in the context now of the New Evangelization," Boulva said in an interview.
As the first Christians of the third millennium, we have a great responsibility to bring the Word of God to others, she said.
"If the first Christians had not taught, we would not be here knowing Christ and loving him and wanting to serve him," she said. "So now it's our turn to propose his friendship to our families and friends and our colleagues at work and all the people that the Lord puts on our way."
Boulva said sainthood is possible for ordinary Catholics "because we have human life and all of a sudden we get divine life in us through Baptism."
To love and live and think like Christ is the way to become a saint. "We become saints in our ordinary lives," Boulva explained.
"We don't have to search for difficult paths. God is waiting for us in our everyday lives - at work, in our families, in all our activities; that's where we are going to become saints."
As saints do, we have to do everything the best way we can and do it as a service to others, "like Christ served others."
Boulva also spoke about the importance of witnessing to Christ in our world today, inviting her audience to a new conversion to Christ and to become witnesses.
She also said Christians today "have a great responsibility to transform the world with Christ so that it'll be a better world."
Some, she said, are called to be involved directly in politics "but all are called to be involved in public life and be present where decisions are made to transform society."
"We are called to be there where transformations are being made to our culture, to our politics, to all levels. We need to be there."
Most importantly, Boulva said, "we are not there to impose anything. We are there to propose and we have, as full-fledged citizens, the same right to propose as atheists.
"There is nothing that says that atheists and agnostics should be the only ones being able to speak up in society. Our freedom of conscience, our freedom of religion, our freedom of expression are right now being threatened in Canada and so we have to love freedom enough to stand up."
Added Boulva: "We can't leave our faith at the door of our workplace when we go to work. It has to inform our choices and our decisions in whatever solutions we propose to social problems. There cannot be a divorce between our faith and our daily life, wherever we are. We have to have unity of life."
Apart from Boulva's lectures, the CÉFFA conference offered 40 different workshops to educate those in attendance. "There are all kinds of themes," noted CÉFFA director Suzane Foisy-Moquin.
"The purpose of the conference is to educate," Foisy-Moquin said. "We want to educate people on their faith; give them opportunities to learn, to be challenged."