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Clarence and Marie Ibach's family is a living witness that every life is a gift from God. Originally seeking "healthy" children when they set out to adopt, the Ibachs' family portrait today includes 10 children with various disabilities, including Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and fetal alcohol syndrome. "We said, 'God, whatever you want,' and that's what he gave us," said Marie. "They're special."
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With rockets falling daily on the Syrian capital of Damascus, life for Father Issa Mammar and his family was becoming unbearable. The civil war, which started in 2011, was lasting too long. The married Melkite Catholic priest and his wife Rima were worried about the safety of their children, Jean-Pierre, 13, and Anne Marie, 5. Terrorists often target schools and civilian areas and Mammar felt his family was in danger. So he started planning to leave his war-torn country.
Some Vancouver-area Catholics are working hard to repair ties with First Nations people after the close of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. "I've asked them to look at me as their worker. It's their Church. I'm only doing the things the Church wants me to do, and what they want me to do," said Deacon James Meskas. When Meskas was ordained in January, he was tasked with providing pastoral care to two First Nations communities near his home in Agassiz, B.C.
Benedictine spirituality has much to offer the world through its teaching of "listening," Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen told a gathering May 5 at St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster, Sask. The first word of the Rule of St. Benedict, the guide for Benedictines, is "listen." It begins the sentence, "Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions and attend to them with the ear of your heart," said Stasyszen of St. Gregory's Abbey of Shawnee, Okla. The rule begins with an invitation to seek the peace of God's kingdom by listening.
When Pope Francis accepted a proposal at the Vatican May 12 to form a commission to study the possibility of women serving as deacons today, it generated plenty of buzz. The pope's agreement on the idea - raised by members of the International Union of Superiors General, the leadership group for superiors of women's orders - was interpreted by some as a thumbs-up to women deacons and eventually women priests. The Vatican spokesman was quick to rebut such notions the next day.
A Senate committee has recommended amendments to strengthen euthanasia Bill C-14's safeguards and add conscience rights protections to aid quicker passage of the bill. Senator Denise Batters recommended the House of Commons pass these recommendations before returning the bill to the Senate after a third reading vote. The Liberal government tried to force a vote on third reading May 18 by shutting down debate, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau derailed that plan by wading into a group of New Democrat MPs who were blocking the Conservative whip from returning to his seat so the vote could begin.
As the Liberal government rushes a bill legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide through Parliament, thousands gathered in Ottawa May 12 for the annual National March for Life. The march's focal point has always been "the threat to life at its earliest stages through abortion," Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto said in his homily at a pro-life Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral.
Sister Dr. Zoe Bernatsky brings a multitude of talents to her new role as academic dean of Newman Theological College. One of the most notable is her attitude. "It's been exciting," she said in an interview. "I love to learn, love to pray, love to work with people. And I have had great mentors along the way and many, many blessings and opportunities."
NEW HAVEN, CONN. - The Melkite Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, Syria, has thanked the Knights of Columbus and other organizations for speaking out about the genocide of Syrian Christians and other religious minorities. Speaking May 2 with a heavy but hopeful heart at a news conference at the Knights' headquarters, Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart also asked for support for his war-torn city.
One of the most frequently asked questions in Paul Flaman's recently-released book, Sex, Love and Marriage, is "What do you think?" It's a different approach for a Catholic textbook on sexual and marital morality, one that cuts against the widespread belief that the Church wants to dictate moral precepts to an increasingly rebellious or uninterested public. Flaman, soon to be raised to the level of a full professor of theology at the University of Alberta's St. Joseph's College, says the book developed out of more than 30 years of teaching undergraduate students on the topics of sex, love and marriage.
Teary-eyed, Michele Wallace felt a mix of emotions as she walked down the halls of Edmonton's St. James School for the last time. She burst into laughter with her mother Pat Moorhouse as she pointed to her June 1981 yearbook photo. "It's just the nostalgia, just remembering everything. And a flood of memories," said Wallace. "Some things, as a child, they seemed so big." Wallace and Moorhouse were among the former and current students, parents and staff present May 11 for the St. James School closing celebration.
OTTAWA - The federal government says it will begin funding abortion in the developing world in order to help "the poorest and most vulnerable." Amy Mills, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said, "The government will close existing gaps in reproductive rights and health care for women as part of its commitment to refocus Canada's development assistance on helping the poorest and most vulnerable." Mills said Canada supports the health care systems of countries in line with their legal frameworks and priorities.
ROME - Women consecrated in religious life and engaged in apostolic work must realize their vocation is about being prophetic witnesses of God's love, superiors general from around the world were told. They should not see their mission as one of building and maintaining great institutions, speakers told almost 900 superiors of religious orders at the assembly of the International Union of Superiors General.
TORONTO - The inspiration and wisdom of L'Arche founder Jean Vanier teaches us not only how to become more human, but also how to be people of faith in a world wary of religion, says author and academic Michael Higgins. Higgins describes his 110-page biography as a brief introduction to the life of one of the last century's most influential writers and thinkers, and "a spiritual mentor to millions irrespective of religion." Higgins spoke to about 100 people present for the Toronto launch of his new biography of the founder of the L'Arche movement.
If we don't go out as witnesses of Jesus and tell stories about our experiences with him, then our faith will become extinct. So says Father Joseph Salihu, a Nigerian priest currently serving in Spruce Grove. Salihu said God works in our lives, and "We need to be aware of what he is doing and give glory to him when he does it." Salihu, associate pastor at Holy Trinity Parish, was the speaker at the charismatic prayer breakfast at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre May 14. Members of a prayer group at Holy Trinity accompanied him to the breakfast.
Commentary on the Catholic Church in online media is suffering from "character assassination" by those who believe themselves to be "the clean, the perfect and the saved," says Basilian Father Thomas Rosica. In a May 11 talk in Brooklyn, N.Y., the founder of Canada's Salt and Light TV Network said the work of the Catholic media is to build bridges that encourage encounter and inclusion. Rosica pointed out that Catholic media will be held to accountability and responsibility for creating communion and engaging in a dialogue that is fueled by mercy and understanding.
With physician-assisted suicide becoming a reality, there is renewed urgency for expanding palliative care, which is currently available to only one in three Canadians. But palliative care is surrounded by misconceptions, says a Winnipeg palliative care doctor. Some people believe it actually hastens death; others think it is only for the very old or cancer sufferers. Others believe palliative care means nothing more can be done. "There is always something we can do" to bring comfort to the dying, said Dr. Chantale Demers.
OTTAWA - Constitutional lawyers opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide are divided on whether passing Bill C-14 without further amendments is preferable to no bill at all. Euthanasia Prevention Coalition's legal counsel Hugh Scher said it is important to have a bill that addresses the Supreme Court of Canada's Carter decision with "comprehensive safeguards to protect vulnerable people from the risk of abuse. "The existing bill does not do that," he said.