Michel MacDonald, the new executive director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family hopes to make COLF the "go-to" organization for life and family issues in Canada. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

COLF's new executive director ramps up digital plans to spread its message

By 
  • January 23, 2017

OTTAWA – Michel MacDonald already feels he has the right messages. The task now is making the most of the mediums that can deliver the messages.

The goal for the new executive director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) is simple: Make COLF the go-to place for any and all issues concerning life and family in Canada.

To reach that goal, he plans a much more aggressive use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and other Internet means to get the message out.

MacDonald, who took the helm from Michele Boulva after her retirement at the end of 2016, said COLF has tremendous resources on every subject pertaining to life and family, from bioethics to Theology of the Body to reflections on family life.

“I was on the board of COLF for five years until June 2016 and one of the goals presented at my last board meeting was this notion that COLF become the go-to organization for life and family in Canada,” he said. “So part of that is taking the great resources we already have and making them more accessible.”

COLF’s published documents on topics ranging from stem cell research to the family’s role in new evangelization are available on COLF’s website for download, but “part of my mandate is to help us become more well-known,” MacDonald said.

That will include beefing up COLF’s presence on social media and upgrading the website, “taking a good thing and making it better,” he said.

MacDonald and his assistant director Peter Murphy will be looking at taking their documents and “breaking them down into bite-sized sound bites for people” with a link to the entire document.

They are also looking at more web-based videos to get the message out, said MacDonald, who holds a licentiate from the John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C., and earned a PhD in moral theology at Ottawa's Saint Paul University.

“We’re in the initial phase of this,” he said. “Our organization takes it direction from the board of directors, so we’re in the process of looking at that.”

“We live in an age of social communication, social media, and I think it’s important we tap into that,” he said. “That’s just the reality of the world we live in. People are accessing information on their smart phones.”

COLF is a non-profit organization primarily funded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus.

COLF has traditionally published several pamphlets a year, but subject to the approval of the board, that focus many change as the organization looks to using video, with a wider impact, and make better use of its already available resources.

COLF will soon publish its annual message to families, however, MacDonald said.

Entitled “The Joy of Love at the Heart of the Family: a brief journey through Amoris Laetitia,” the message “looks at its positive elements concerning the family and how marriage is a call to holiness,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of focus in the media on the controversial parts of Amoris Laetitia, but our document highlights the beautiful message on married love and family life the Pope conveyed,” said the father of seven children. “We’re looking at the positive.”

COLF has also organized an annual seminar on various topics. “We will still have a seminar, but we are in the process of discerning how to best use that seminar to help share and form a culture of life,” he said.

“We want to be able to in some ways equip the equippers, to help people not only respond to the culture, but also perhaps in a broader way build this civilization of love," he said, noting COLF’s mission is “to build a civilization of love and create a culture of life.”

MacDonald said he plans to increase COLF’s networking with other like-minded organizations, including those of other denominations and faith-based groups.

“If we want to shape the culture and help transform the culture, we have to reach out to all people involved in the issues of life and family,” he said.

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