Toronto board launches Respect for Life Week

  • May 19, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - “Nobody’s a nobody,” Dr. Andrew Simone, founder of the non-profit Canadian Food for Children , told more than 80 students, education assistants and teachers at the Catholic Education Centre.

Everyone is a gift from God, Simone said in his talk, part of the kick off event of the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s 15th annual Respect for Life Week.

The message is to respect everyone as a child of God.

The week’s main goal is to emphasize the need to respect life by putting a spotlight on pro-life issues such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell experimentation. But it has also expanded its focus to poverty, environmental stewardship and the rights of individuals with disabilities.

Simone, 71, told the audience how he had overcome his own disability. In medical school, he discovered that he was losing his hearing. But that didn’t stop him from studying at Harvard University, becoming a doctor and competing in the Boston Marathon twice to raise funds for charity.

Simone is a strong proponent of pro-life and pro-family causes. He and his wife have 13 children who attended Toronto Catholic schools and are foster parents to 24 children.

Before Simone’s talk, Archbishop Thomas Collins celebrated Mass. In his homily, Collins spoke about the value of human dignity.

“We’re not a ‘what’ to be used, but a ‘who’ to be cherished,” he told the crowd.

It’s a message that resonated with Grade 9 student Oliver Arbizu of St. Mary’s Catholic High School. Arbizu was a student from one of several special education classes who attended the event.

Arbizu said the event made him feel special and brought home the message of helping others.

Mary Ward High School student Mike Del Mundo read a poem written by a teacher who became a quadriplegic after an accident. Del Mundo, 18, said individuals with special needs can “dream big” because a disability shouldn’t stop anyone from achieving their goals.

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