Faith & Reason Series: Building & Sustaining Supportive Networks & Relationships

Building & maintaining supportive relationships & networks. It is both easier and more difficult than ever before to build and sustain friendships and community in our time. A panel of committed, Catholic young adult professionals, including a young resident physician, a lawyer, an academic, a communications specialist, and a governmental policy analyst, look at ways of building supportive personal and professional communities in a splintered and aggressively secular world. We’ll assess the factors behind this status quo and discuss ways of staying better connected in an era of ‘disconnected connectivity’.

Hosted by Peter Copeland, animator for Catholic Conscience.


  • Brendan Steven – Executive Director Emeritus of Catholic Conscience, current Animator with Catholic Conscience, and Chief Writer for the United Jewish Appeal (UJA)
  • Maria Lucas – Lawyer, Co-Founder & Secretary of the Indigenous Catholic Research Fellowship (ICRF)
  • Samantha Rossi – Family Medicine Resident Doctor in Toronto Peter Copeland – Host, Policy Advisor in the Ontario Government

Faith & Reason Lecture: Contemplation In Community As Reason For Hope

Writers from St. Augustine of Hippo to Jane Austen have represented men and women together observing the natural world and thus being lifted into edifying conversation. In his Confessions St. Augustine recalls standing at a window overlooking a garden in Rome and speaking with his mother St. Monica until they are drawn from God’s “works” to contemplating eternal “Wisdom”. In Austen’s novel Mansfield Park, the Oxford theology student Edmund Bertram stands gazing out a window with his cousin Fanny Price, until she declares there would be less “wickedness and sorrow” in the world if more people attended to “the sublimity of nature”. These two scenes, one historical and one imagined, suggest men and women may be lifted together into theological and ethical forms of discourse by looking beyond themselves, out of windows, onto the beauty of Creation. Situated as we are, in the twenty-first century, how could we emulate the humble, receptive, and dialogic posture of St. Monica, as remembered by her son, or of Fanny Price, as imagined by Austen? I initially learnt the practice of collaborative speaking, writing, and editing in a graduate seminar on Virginia Woolf at the University of Toronto. The experience yielded my first academic publication: a book chapter co-authored with five other people. In my own journey as an academic, which ultimately led me into the Catholic Church, I have continued to engage in very collaborative forms of scholarship. My lecture will share some of these concrete experiences of contemplation in community as reason for hope.

About Professor Duquette

Dr. Natasha Duquette is author of 30-Day Journey with Jane Austen (Fortress Press, 2020) and is currently serving as editor-in-chief for The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Romantic-Era Women’s Writing (Palgrave MacMillan), which is a collaborative project involving writers based in universities around the globe. She is also author of Veiled Intent (Pickwick, 2016), co-editor of Jane Austen and the Arts: Elegance, Propriety, and Harmony (Lehigh University Press, 2013), and editor of Sublimer Aspects: Interfaces between Literature, Aesthetics, and Theology (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007). For the Chawton House Library series, she produced the first annotated, scholarly edition of Helen Maria Williams’s Julia, a novel interspersed with poetical pieces (Routledge, 2009). Her articles have appeared in the journals Persuasions, English Studies in Canada, Christianity and Literature, Notes and Queries, Mosaic, and Women’s Writing. She has contributed essays to multiple collections, including Through a Glass Darkly: Suffering, the Sacred, and the Sublime in Literature and Theory (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010) and Art and Artifact in Austen (University of Virginia Press, 2020). Her research has been supported by fellowships from SSHRC, Chawton House, and Gladstone’s Library. Before coming to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, she taught full-time at the Royal Military College of Canada, Biola University in Southern California, and Tyndale University in Toronto, where she also served as Associate Dean of undergraduate studies for four years. She is an adult convert to the Catholic faith who was drawn to the Church by the sustaining peace she found in the mass and by the magisterium’s commitment to the beauty, goodness, and truth of the gospel. Dr. Duquette enjoys teaching courses on eighteenth-century satire, aesthetics, Jane Austen, African literature, and Indigenous writers of North America.

Faith & Reason Lecture Series with Rod Dreher

Live Not By Lies – impending ‘Soft Totalitarianism’ in the west? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once noted that people often assume that their democratic government would never submit to totalitarianism—but Dreher says it’s happening. Sounding the alarm about the insidious effects of identity politics, surveillance technology, psychological manipulation, and more, he equips people to see, judge, and act in response to contemporary circumstances.

About Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Leming—as well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

The Way of Mercy: Catholics On The Journey Of Reconciliation

Mercy-First – Moving forward in Reconciliation: As Christ taught us and as Aquinas reiterates, “In itself, mercy takes precedence of all the virtues,” since through it, it makes up for each of their deficiencies. In this webinar, we will discuss the topic of reconciliation in light of the upcoming Papal visit, with an aim of identifying concrete ways of moving forward together towards justice, forgiveness, and healing. We will explore mercy as a key to frame the way in which people from all perspectives and places in life can enter difficult and fraught discussions such as these, with humility and a willingness to listen and love, first and foremost.

On June 27th, 2022 – the eve of the Papal visit to Canada – we spoke with Fr Cristino Bouvette and Maria Lucas about matters of reconciliation.

Fr Cristino Bouvette is an Indigenous Albertan ordained in the Diocese of Calgary in 2012. He oversees the St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy for young adults and is passionate about fostering reconciliation between the Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples. In preparation for the Papal visit in July 2022, he has been serving as the National Liturgical Coordinator for the Office of the Papal Visit to Canada on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Maria Lucas is a Black-Métis woman whose heritage inspired her to study Indigenous-Crown relations in a historical and political context in her undergraduate degree, which she completed at the University of Toronto. In her studies, she discovered the unique legal framework that informs Indigenous peoples’ relationship with the Crown and she came to understand that the law is key to reconciling this relationship. As a result, she was prompted to pursue law school. She completed her Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa with a specialization in Aboriginal law and Indigenous legal traditions in 2019. She was recently called to the Ontario Bar as a lawyer. Maria is also a Co-Founder and Secretary of the Indigenous Catholic Research Fellowship and she currently serves as the Indigenous-Government Relations Assistant at Indspire.

Federal Election 2021: Catholics & Canadian Politics with John Milloy

A free webinar part of our Catholic Action initiative in the 2021 federal election campaign

FEDERAL ELECTION 2021: Catholics & Canadian Politics with John Milloy

“How did religious faith, particularly the Catholic faith, which has been such a source of strength and comfort to so many Canadians, assume such a negative connotation? Why is anyone associated with public life encouraged to keep a major part of their identity separate from their public work? Why has the wisdom of Canada’s faith communities been prevented from even being discussed in the public square?”

These are some of the questions posed by former Ontario cabinet minister and prime ministerial advisor John Milloy in his new book, Politics and Faith in a Polarized World: A Challenge for Catholics. In it, Milloy brings to bear the full weight of his experience and analysis to one of the most crucial questions for Catholics in Canada today: how do we effectively bring a Catholic social vision into our political engagement—a crucial core of our call to public witness—in a highly-secularized political environment where Catholic perspectives are often denied a place in the public conversation, or, at worst, are treated with outright hostility? Milloy offers ideas for the way forward that will both inspire and challenge Catholics to think differently about how we can bring Pope Francis’ idea of political love to life in Canada today as our country’s single largest religious voting demographic.

In a wide-ranging conversation at the apex of the 2021 federal election, we will discuss the past, present, and future of Catholic political engagement at the federal level, as well as the ongoing election campaign—Catholics’ place in it, and Milloy’s analysis of the state of Canadian politics as we prepare to elect our next federal government.

Catholic Canadians passionate about the future of their country won’t want to miss this timely and relevant conversation with a Catholic civic leader who has served at the senior-most levels of Canadian politics. Participants will also enjoy a discount code for Milloy’s new book, courtesy of its publisher, Novalis.


From 2003 to 2014, John Milloy served as the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Kitchener Centre, holding five cabinet portfolios. Prior to that he worked on Parliament Hill as a political adviser to a number of senior cabinet ministers as well as spending five years on the senior staff of former prime minister Jean Chrétien. Today, he is an Assistant Professor of Public Ethics at Martin Luther University College, and Director of the Centre for Public Ethics.

Conscience Conversations Pt. 1: There’s room on the boat for all

Twice a month, Matthew Marquardt and Brendan Steven get together over breakfast and talk about what it means to be a Christian citizen. These are their Conscience Conversations. Want to join the conversation? Want to learn more about Catholic social teaching, and how you can serve your community as an active Christian citizen? Reach out to us: email

Matthew Marquardt is President of Catholic Conscience, a partner at a major Toronto law firm, and a parishioner at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

Brendan Steven is a director with Catholic Conscience, a writer based in Toronto, and a parishioner at St. Basil’s Catholic Church.

M: The weekend before last, there was a choice of two readings for the second reading. The second choice was Hebrews, 9:24-28; 10:19-23, which spoke to Christ’s role in guiding us through the age that was starting at that time:  the “Christian Era”.

B: To my eyes, you’ve hit on a key question of the age. And to be blunt, it’s a question our predecessors in the Christian communion have had to answer in quite the same way. Jesus Christ left us eternal truth, in the form of principles aligned with the divine will—and, therefore, our best natures as children of God. The eternal nature of those truths are such that they can and must be applied across history and culture. Today they are challenged by profound change in society.

But there’s always been change. What’s new about today’s change is how quickly it’s happening, how all-encompassing it is, how unprecedented it is. The Internet “age” only began a few decades ago, and yet today’s world couldn’t even have been imagined by our parents. As with every generation of Christians, we must face the challenges of the moment with new answers inspired by Christian principles. Inspired by Christ and inspired by Mary’s special devotion to God and her son, a devotion we are called to emulate.

But as we face these external challenges, we’re reminded of the eternal challenge—the challenge that has been the same for every generation of believers. This is the internal challenge, the fact that the battle against sin is first and foremost a battle waged by our own souls, by God and Christ, against our own evils. I believe this is at least in part the role Catholic Conscience is meant to play in this time.

The challenges of Christian citizenship are external challenges–how do we reform our government, our society, to achieve justice and reconciliation between our fellow people? How do we serve those who live in our culture’s suffering, hidden corners? How do we create a culture that loves and defends the dignity of all people, and the dignity of all life and creation? We must rise to these external challenges.

But Catholic Conscience is also concerned about the internal challenge of Christian citizenship—how our own vices corrupt our ability to live in loving community, particularly in loving democratic community, with our fellow citizens. This is in part why I have felt such inspiration in our work. This is the part we must play in the victory of the Immaculate Heart. This is the fundamental call all Christians must answer. We must heal the polis, yes, the body politic—but Catholic Conscience is uniquely saying, we must also heal the citizens themselves.

The first choice was Ephesians, 1:17-23, which among other things says “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

Now, Mary has also mentioned ages once or twice. Most notably at Fatima in 1917, where she warned of the need to pray for penance and consecration, specifically to her Immaculate Heart (hence the pin I wear).

Now, it does seem quite possible to me that now, 2000 years later (remember that God’s sense of timing is not quite as strictly defined as our own), we are passing into a new age. In the 20th century, the world became very small—instant communications worldwide, the ability to circle the globe in 24 hours, greatly expanded populations, successful birth rates, and longevity. All the cultures of the world have come together, and we are consuming way too fast to support self-interested greed.

My question to you, Brendan Steven:  if indeed we are in the transition from one age to another, and currently in a phase that involves intense pruning of a proud Church, then is it possible that Catholic Conscience might play some role in bringing about the victory of the Immaculate Heart, in ushering in a new age of Mary and her Son?

M: An interesting answer, with which I heartily agree.  Every generation, I think, faces unique challenges, so that every generation is forced to think for itself, to make its own choices—so that every individual in every generation is forced to make choices which bring him closer to God, or take him further away.  We all want to live, to find God and make sure we are right with Him so that we might continue joyfully after this life.  But Christ, uniquely among religious figures, has taught us that the best way to do that—the only authentic way to put ourselves right with God—involves a dimension of looking after one another as well as ourselves.  We are meant to seek Him, and in doing so to help Him bring others to Him.

Building from the substantial body of teachings Christ has given us, the Church has provided us with profound guidance at both the individual and social levels, the genius of its social teachings being that the only legitimate purpose of society is to assist the individual in seeking that Truth which is God.  Anything inconsistent with that is at least potentially harmful.

The tumult and the chaos of today’s world put me in mind of Christ calming the seas, and the remarkable sculpture recently created by Timothy Schmalz.

Here at the opening of the third millennium we are forced into the realization that the boat we’ve boarded as Christ’s disciples may be large enough for all, but that it’s a tight fit—there are many, many more people entitled to a seat on it than we had imagined.  Only if we steer the boat with the good of all in mind can we hope to reach shore safely.

Fortunately, if we look at our fellow voyagers, we will see not only people of all races, but the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and the wings of God’s guiding angel.

B: Wow, I love this statue. And I love your comment about what it represents. The idea that Christ envisioned a church where literally everyone could take part, where all are welcome. It’s a beautiful image, and one to aspire to. This is what we are called to by Catholic social teaching. I love this image for another reason as well.

One of the ironies of living in this world that feels increasingly small, increasingly without boundaries, increasingly frictionless in the ways we can communicate and share with one another—is how this has led to even more friction. We have access to the humanity of others in an unprecedented way, reading stories from around the world, communicating instantly with people across the globe. But more and more we dehumanize those around us, denying them their inherent dignity. We’re afraid to share what space and resources we have. The treatment of “others” of all kinds, whether immigrants, refugees, Indigenous Canadians, you name them, is deplorable. We find it easier to hide away people whose dignity is undermined, rather than confront injustice and secure for them the dignity they deserve.

But I love what this statue says about how we are called as Christians to live a life of love, how we must approach the task of living with others. This statue reminds us: we are called to live a certain neighbourliness. Look at the people on this boat. They barely have an inch of space between them, but they are in harmony with one another. More than that: they seem to be holding each other up, caring for each other, each accorded the space they need. And every one of them have their eyes turned up ahead–presumably, towards the Truth, towards Christ, towards God.

What a lovely inspiration for how all of us can live together in this “smaller” world—by following the virtues taught us by Catholic social teaching, by being neighbourly and welcoming, by accepting the dignity of everyone around us, by keeping our eyes ahead on what matters most!

Want to join the conversation? Want to learn more about Catholic social teaching, and how you can serve your community as an active Christian citizen? Reach out to us: email We’ll tell you about our upcoming events, latest activities, and ways you can get involved!

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