{mosimage}It’s amazing how what initially seems like a major crisis can sometimes end up being just what is needed to get your priorities straight. I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, though.

I’m referring to my husband’s job loss a decade ago due to workplace restructuring. The anniversary is this month.

He’d been with the company longer than I’d known him. His job necessitated a two-hour, round-trip commute and long, demanding workdays. Originally it also involved travel; the last two years he was continually on call via pager.

The Alberta government recently enacted controversial changes to its human rights code that affirm the fundamental right of parents to intercede in the classroom on matters related to the moral education of their children.

In a decision regarded as a victory for religious freedom, Bill 44 amended Alberta’s Human Rights Act to give parents the right to remove their children without academic penalty from classes which include discussion of sexual orientation, sexuality or religion. The amendment requires teachers to notify parents if the sensitive topics are scheduled for inclusion in formal lessons. Informal or “incidental” classroom discussion is not covered by the requirement.

{mosimage}Father’s Day. Bring out the greeting cards, new ties and socks. My dad is an inspiring guy, a role model, someone who’s shown me the kind of person I’d like to be in life. So dad, never forget you’re #1 (along with mom) in my books.

But this Father’s Day, I’d like to thank some other “fathers” out there. They probably won’t be taken out for brunch this weekend and are unlikely to receive any great classroom art from the kids at school, but I’d like to say thanks just the same.

{mosimage}It had been a busy day at the office and as I walked into the house I was psyching myself up for an evening of parenting.

As the father of a large family there is always someone who needs attention. Any given night could include a trip to the arena or basketball court, dropping one of the older children off at their part-time jobs, or helping Emma and Hope with their homework.

{mosimage}Phil Fontaine is leaving the Assembly of First Nations in July after serving three terms since 1997 as National Chief. He will be missed. His accomplishments are many but perhaps Fontaine aptly summed up his own legacy in one succinct sentence: “We are now in a position to say we forgive.”

Fontaine’s years as National Chief were sewn together by a thread of reconciliation. That single theme — establishing harmony and friendship with the rest of Canada — dominated his tenure. Fontaine understood that a two-way relationship of fraternity and trust would only occur when First Nations peoples received a sincere apology for the many wrongs suffered over the decades. Then would come the difficult part: they’d have to forgive.

Under Fontaine’s leadership, reconciliation was a journey with three roads. First came a multi-billion-dollar compensation settlement between the federal government and First Nations people stemming from the national scandal of the residential schools. That was followed by last June’s apology in the House of Commons from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on behalf of all Canadians. Third came a Vatican audience at which Fontaine received an expression of sorrow from Pope Benedict XVI for the  conduct of some church members.

{mosimage}I entered the Catholic Church, ten years ago, with my eyes wide open. Or so I believed at the time.

Like everyone else who doesn’t live on a desert island, I knew about the clergy abuse and cover-up scandals that had begun to rock the church a decade before. In defending my decision to become a Catholic against non-Catholic friends and family, who were appalled that I had joined a church in which such abuse had taken place, I adopted a hardly unusual line of argument.

The Catholic Church, I told them, is constructed of crooked, diseased wood, liable at any time to produce bad fruit. The stink of this fruit had brought its existence to the attention of church authorities, who, after some initial foot-dragging, began to clean out the orchard and compensate those who had been poisoned. The system had worked, at least to my satisfaction. This argument belonged, of course, to the “few bad apples” variety.

Poor choice

The recent decision of the Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario to have abortion supporter Stephen Lewis address its 2010 annual conference can be likened to the recent event that took place in South Bend, Indiana (I refuse to call the South Bend institution of education by its name, for it no longer has anything to do with Our Lady).

Lewis’ position and work regarding human life, especially in Africa, is well known. I do respect his compassion. However, it is incomprehensible to have the leaders of publicly funded Catholic schools listen to his misguided ethics at the risk of dividing the Catholic educational community. I wonder if the Principals’ Council approached trustees and especially the bishops of Ontario with their desire to have Lewis speak to them.

I feel that publicly funded Catholic education in Ontario is being hijacked by a new, self-appointed and self-important intelligentsia who have no regard for church teaching and tradition, forgetting that its mission is intimately connected to the mission of the universal church — the salvation of souls.

Steve Catlin
Hamilton Ont.

{mosimage}Christ’s command to forgive seventy times seven may lose some of its poignancy if the worst thing you’ve had to forgive this week was a co-worker hurting your feelings.

Imagine, however, if the killer of your wife and children lives across the street, you both shop at the same stores, you see him every day. Now imagine that scene being replayed across the countryside 100,000 times.

{mosimage}History may record it as throwing good money after bad, but the governments of Canada and Ontario had little choice but to go blue-collar and join the Barack Obama assembly line to keep General Motors going.

As announced on June 1, the government of Canada contributed $7.1 billion and Ontario another $3.8 billion to an American plan to try to save General Motors. Taxpayers in Canada now own 11.7 per cent of the once-giant automaker.

{mosimage}Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4)

When someone you know loses a loved one to death, you want to reach out but may feel unsure of what to say or do. Perhaps you haven’t lost someone close, and it’s difficult to appreciate what your friend is going through and anticipate his or her needs. Allow me to share some advice.

Don’t agonize over what to say. Keep it simple and heartfelt — for example, “I’m so sorry,” “My heart goes out to you,” “I’m here for you” or perhaps even “I’m at a loss for words.” Avoid platitudes such as, “It’s for the best,” or “You still have a lot to be thankful for.”

{mosimage}For years, I took my local church choir for granted.  Sunday after Sunday I would hardly notice the music unless I heard a favourite piece or an obvious mistake.

Then one day an acquaintance complimented me on my voice and suggested I join him in the choir.  I easily discounted the compliment, but it struck me that the quality of my worship might improve if it were more active.