The Canadian bishops new Office for Family and Life aims to accompany Canadian families in the light of society’s changing realities. Register file photo

Bishops launch new family office

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  • February 20, 2021

OTTAWA -- A new organization focused on supporting families within the Catholic Church in Canada is now up and running.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ new Office for Family and Life began operations on Feb. 15, “Family Day” in six Canadian provinces. The new office, which in essence replaces the previous Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), is expected to also work closely with a new CCCB Standing Committee for Family and Life.

“The new office will undertake its mandate to grow the conference’s engagement with diocesan personnel for family and life issues, as well as to cultivate relationships with external organizations and individuals,” a CCCB statement said, adding it will foster “the exchange of ideas, network-building and advocacy focused on the pastoral care of families and the dignity of human life from conception until natural death.”

COLF ceased operations at the end of 2020 after the creation of a new office was discussed at the CCCB annual plenary last September.

“One of the national priorities for the CCCB is to accompany families in light of the changing realities of Canadian society by working with diocesan/eparchial life and family networks. During the 2020 Plenary Assembly, and following an extensive period of discussion, consultation and discernment by the CCCB in collaboration with other relevant organizations, bishops approved the creation of a new Office for Family and Life within the CCCB’s current structure to better respond to the needs of families at the national and local levels,” the CCCB statement explained.

“Given the centrality of life and family issues with respect to the ministry of bishops, the alignment of the work to be accomplished by the new national office, with an emphasis on strengthening and supporting the role of families in our local communities, will allow us to fully realize this pastoral priority,” said CCCB president and Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon.

Michelle Dabrowski, who joined the CCCB in September 2020 as the research and resource development assistant for the Office for Evangelization and Catechesis, has been appointed director of the new Office for Family and Life.

Dabrowski, who worked on initiatives related to palliative care, youth consultations and online resource development with the CCCB previously, will be responsible for the implementation of all national projects to be carried out by the new office in both official languages.

As well, the new Standing Committee for Family and Life will be a consultative body within the CCCB. Its mandate is to provide the CCCB with information, insights and recommendations on questions related to family and life issues.

At this point, the committee will include four bishops (Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal, Bishop Christian Rodembourg of St. Hyacinthe, Que., Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby and Archbishop Gérard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan) and there will also be non-episcopal members representing the English and French communities and a Knights of Columbus representative as an ex officio member. The non-episcopal members will be appointed by the CCCB Permanent Council later this year.

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