Webinars, works of mercy, Catholic unity in 2021, and more

A prayer in hope for Catholic unity in 2021

Dear brothers and sisters,

Happy New Year! We hope you all enjoyed a restful break and a joyful celebration of the Christmas season. January has been a sprint for both of us, in our apostolic and professional lives. We’re sure the same is true for many of you. We pray in this difficult season, where our outlook can darken with the sky, that each of you find the strength of God’s love to serve where you are—as family members, as workers, as ministry leaders, and wherever the Lord calls you.

We all have so much to hope and pray for in 2021—for a COVID-19 vaccine, for a healthier politics better fixed on the common good, and for a return to regular living. We’d like to add one more to this noble list: a hope for Catholic unity in 2021.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, the recent American election showed that our community faces many of the same deep divisions facing the wider society. Catholics on both sides of the political spectrum hurled terrible accusations at each other—sometimes questioning the state of their opponents’ souls. This violence of the spirit must end.

There have always been Catholics in different political parties, and different political visions. This will always be the case. But we pray that this year, we all follow our Gospel call to love one another as we love ourselves—as irreplaceable, precious children of God. We can support different policies and parties, but at the end of the day, we share a common foundation as disciples of Christ. It’s the shared bedrock of all our lives.

In this newsletter, you’ll find a link to a recording of our recent webinar. This webinar—a conversation about the importance of participating in the political party candidate nomination process—was a small-scale expression of what Catholic unity can look like. In this event, we brought together three former and current candidates from three different major political parties. No doubt their views of policy are wildly different from each other on many issues! Yet they all shared a common identity as Catholics, inspired by Catholic values, engaged in a charitable discussion of how our community can lead politics to the common good. This is Catholic unity. It’s what we’re called to. No “liberal Catholics” or “conservative Catholics”—just Catholics, pursuing Christ’s mission to build the Kingdom of God on earth… each taking different roads, but seeking the same destination.

May we all follow Pope Francis’ call in Fratelli tutti: Let us love us “as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him” … especially when that distance is one of political views.

With love,
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven

Upcoming Events

STAY TUNED FOR BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUT OUR NEXT WEBINAR AND THE CATHOLIC LEADERS MISSION

Throughout 2021, we’ll be hosting a series of formation webinars for Catholic civic and political leadership. You’ll find a link to our first webinar below, on how and why you should participate in political party nominations. Thank you to all those who joined our second webinar with Dr. Brett Salkeld, on how to vote like a Catholic. You’ll find a link to the recording in next month’s newsletter.
 
Keep an eye out in this newsletter and on our social media for the announcement of our next webinar, on how great literature can teach us to be great Catholics and great Catholic citizens. If you love reading extraordinary books, you won’t want to miss this webinar! We’ll be interviewing a very special guest that we can’t wait to announce soon.
 
Also keep an eye out for the announcement of one of our major initiatives of 2021: the Catholic Leaders Mission, a spiritual formation and political training program for Catholic political candidates. We’ll be sharing more details soon. Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is considering a run for political officer in the near-future, please send us a note at brendan@catholicconscience.org. We’ll be opening the application process soon!

Works of Mercy In Out Community

PRAY FOR THOSE IN NEED: 5 beautiful prayers from the Psalms
PRAY FOR THOSE IN NEED: 5 beautiful prayers from the Psalms

In this space, we usually feature a volunteer or other opportunity for readers to participate in. These are always corporal works of mercy. But this time and in this circumstance—when Ontario is under a strict stay-at-home order—we wanted to suggest a spiritual work of mercy for readers to partake in.
 
Simply put: Consider praying for our people and our country.
 
We enjoyed reading the article “5 beautiful prayers from the Psalms”, by Marie Ann Torres and published by Salt+Light Media. The Psalms articulate the deepest desires of the heart and soul for God’s comfort—the songs of His people, crying out for Him. We encourage you to pray these prayers for those who are suffering in this crisis.
 
If these prayers touch your heart, consider watching Cardinal Thomas Collins’ Lectio divina series on the Psalms and Canticles. The Cardinal’s reflections on these incomparable prayers will be a boon to your conversations with the Lord.
 
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE LECTIO DIVINA SERIES

Conscience Conversations

WATCH OUR WEBINAR AND LEARN WHY CATHOLICS SHOULD VOTE IN POLITICAL PARTY CANDIDATE NOMINATIONS
WATCH OUR WEBINAR AND LEARN WHY CATHOLICS SHOULD VOTE IN POLITICAL PARTY CANDIDATE NOMINATIONS

Because political party nominations are often low-voter turnout, low-engagement election contests (depending on the riding and the winnability of the party in that riding), well-formed and greater Catholic participation in these exercises can be high-impact—particularly when it comes to elevating people of character to public office, and improving the options available to Canadian voters on the ballot. Because of a federal minority government, an election could come at any time, even in 2021—therefore many parties are launching their nomination contests now. Why is it so critical for Catholics to buy memberships with their party-of-choice, and vote in their local riding nomination contest? We gathered former Liberal candidate Jo-Ann Davis, former NDP candidate Talon Regent, and current Conservative nomination candidate Ben Smith to chat about why nominations matter. Thank you to our guests for this critical conversation and thank you to the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Director of Public Relations & Communications, Neil MacCarthy, for a special introduction. You can watch the full video below.
 
CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Serving Your Community

WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET INVOLVED WITH CATHOLIC CONSCIENCE? LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE DO VIA THE THINKING FAITH PODCAST
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET INVOLVED WITH CATHOLIC CONSCIENCE? LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE DO VIA THE THINKING FAITH PODCAST

We’re always looking to bring along more “fishers of men” to join the Catholic Conscience apostolate. If you’d like to learn more about what we do and why we do it—and see if this is the kind of mission God is calling you towards—we’re happy to share our recent interviews with the Thinking Faith podcast. In three parts, we share more about our apostolate, the work we do, and why we do it; the story of Matthew Marquardt’s founding of Catholic Conscience; and the story of our Executive Director, Brendan Steven, joined the mission.
 
LISTEN TO THE ORIGIN STORY—WHAT WE DO AND WHY
 
LISTEN TO MATT’S STORY—OUR FOUNDING
 
LISTEN TO BRENDAN’S STORY—FROM PARTISAN POLITICS TO CATHOLIC CIVIC AND POLITICAL FORMATION

From The Holy Father

THROUGH FRATELLI TUTTI AND THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, MATTHEW MARQUARDT SHARES HIS REFLECTIONS ON HOW WE DEFINE POVERTY
THROUGH FRATELLI TUTTI AND THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, MATTHEW MARQUARDT SHARES HIS REFLECTIONS ON HOW WE DEFINE POVERTY

In a recent edition of The Torch—the newsletter of our friends at the Newman Centre Catholic Mission in Toronto—Catholic Conscience President Matthew Marquardt shared his thoughts on a recent Newman workshop on ending poverty. He writes about how we define poverty, using Pope Francis’ words and Catholic social teaching as a guide to a Catholic understanding of this critical social concern.
 
“The poor you will always have with you,” Christ warned his disciples. (Matthew 26:11) But why? Why will they always be with us? The answer is that we, who now form the living body of Christ on earth, have work to do before we can follow him to heaven: we must, by showing continuous, steadfast love to those in need, ensure that the glory of God shows forth through us to the entire world. (Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 25)
 
READ THE TORCH AND THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE

What We’re Watching

RESPONSIBLE APPROACHES TO THE NEWS: CONSCIENTIOUS NEWS CONSUMPTION
RESPONSIBLE APPROACHES TO THE NEWS: CONSCIENTIOUS NEWS CONSUMPTION

We’re consuming more media than ever before. Especially in a time of pandemic, while we’re isolating at home, our eyes are glued to our TV, computer, and phone screens, absorbing an unprecedented amount of news and other digital content. We’ve discovered “doomscrolling”, where we obsessively read all the bad news related to COVID-19 and the world, and feel a deep sense of anxiety and dread. There’s a better way to approach news consumption… but what is that way? Given how topical it has once again become, we wanted to share video from our 2019 panel discussion on responsible news consumption. How should we fight the effects of bias in reading news? How should we be aware of our own bias or the bias of our media sources, and how do we counter these to gain a fuller picture of the truth? We discuss these themes and more with our expert panel.
 
CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Prayer

PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY

We just completed the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an ecumenical observance celebrated around the world that expresses our hopes to God for the fulfilment of Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper, “that they all may be one.”
 
We offer this prayer for Christian unity, and for greater unity in our own Church so that we may evangelize the world as one community. This prayer comes from our friends at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
 
O God, under your wing you gather the whole of creation: praise and glory to you!
 
Help us to follow your will, to gather up all things in Christ.
 
Open our eyes to see the riches of your grace, so that we may open our mouths to proclaim the hope for the world which lies in you.
 
Help us to work for a world where people of different religions and cultures can live together in peace; for a just world where rich and poor share their resources.
 
Help us to use the gifts of your creation according to your wisdom, to the praise of your glory.
 
Amen.

The year in Catholic political leadership, and what’s coming next

An end-of-year reflection from Vickie McNally, member of the Catholic Conscience board of directors

Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception, 1628–1629

These days, my everyday work connects me with people pondering the question: “What does a post-pandemic Canada look like? And what can I do to make things better for Canadians?”

I hope at the beginning of this new year, these are questions that all Canadians are asking themselves.

I remember the day Matthew Marquardt, President of Catholic Conscience, asked me to consider joining this board. Really? I thought to myself. What to do I have to offer? What do I know about this organization anyway? And are they trying to do something that makes our common home better? I did some reading about Catholic Conscience, spoke with confidants and said a few prayers. I felt uncertain about making the commitment but was drawn to their mission, “to share Catholic social teaching and form Catholic leaders rooted in its truth and beauty.” It seems important, especially now!

It’s frequently said that Catholic social teaching is the world’s best-kept secret. This was the case for me. A few years ago, Matthew gave a presentation, on Catholic social teaching, at St. Peter’s Parish in Toronto. I was hooked! The opportunity to join the Catholic Conscience board came many months after that. For the time between the presentation and now and especially during the past few months, I thought a lot about what it means to be a leader. Not everyone has the gift or call to lead. We’ve all seen examples of that! Good leaders have clear visions and goals and they also need great support that offers information, perspective and inspiration and the right formation. This is where Catholic Conscience comes in.

In Fratteli Tutti, Pope Francis appealed “for a renewed appreciation of politics as a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, in as much as it seeks the common good.”

What’s wonderful about this appeal is how it declares the ideal form of politics to be “seeking forms of social friendship that include everyone,” a view that opens many ways to be leaders in the political arena.

For me, my way will be in supporting Catholic Conscience behind the scenes, listening to and sharing ideas and knowledge, and upholding the vision that every Catholic becomes a leader willing and ready to transform communities through Gospel values.

Upcoming Events

JOIN US WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20 FROM 7-8 PM EST AND LEARN HOW TO VOTE LIKE A CATHOLIC

“If you vote for a certain political party, you’ll go to hell.”
“I can’t vote because there’s no truly Catholic option.”

These are just two common myths about voting as a Catholic. What does the Church teach us about our responsibility to vote? And how do we discern our consciences and choose who to vote for? In this webinar, we interview Catholic author and theologian Dr. Brett Salkeld on how to truly vote like a Catholic.

Click here to RSVP—get your free tickets soon as space is limited!

Meet our guest:
 
Brett Salkeld is Archdiocesan Theologian for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina, where he is responsible for deacon formation. Brett is the author of Can Catholics and Evangelicals Agree about Purgatory and the Last Judgment? and How Far Can We Go? A Catholic Guide to Sex and Dating (with Leah Perrault). He is currently working on a book for Catholic teachers tentatively titled Making Every Class Catholic. Brett is a sought-after speaker on many topics related to the Catholic faith. He also serves the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as a member of the Roman Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue in Canada. His weekly podcast with Deacon Eric Gurash is called Thinking Faith! Brett has a large back catalogue of blog posts at both Vox Nova and sAsk-a-theologian. Brett was baptized in St. Wenceslaus Parish in Gerald, Saskatchewan, where he grew up. He now lives with his wife Flannery and their six children in Regina.


JOIN US WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13 FROM 7-8 PM EST AND LEARN ABOUT THE ENORMOUS IMPACT YOU CAN MAKE BY PURCHASING A PARTY MEMBERSHIP AND VOTING IN A LOCAL CANDIDATE NOMINATION

Only 4% of Canadians are members of political parties. That’s only four out of every 100 of us. That tiny number enjoy a special privilege: voting in political party nominations and selecting who will represent their party in each general election. Many of these nominated candidates eventually become our elected representatives. It matters who represents us. That’s why it’s so important Catholics purchase party memberships and vote in nominations.
 
Hear from former and current Catholic candidates from different parties about why nominations matter, and how you can get involved and pick your politicians.
 
Featuring a special introduction from Neil MacCarthy, Director of Public Relations & Communications at the Archdiocese of Toronto.
 
RSVP for webinar link and login details.

Click here to RSVP—get your tickets soon as space is limited!

Works of Mercy In Out Community

IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING, CATHOLIC AGENCIES ARE READY TO HELP

At the centre of our faith are the spiritual and corporal works of mercy—every Catholic is called to love and serve their neighbours-in-need. Sometimes we too need the support of these works of mercy. If you or someone you know is struggling this winter season, Catholic agencies in Toronto can help. The Archdiocese of Toronto has provided links to a variety of services available in the GTA. You can refer these services to those in your life who might need them. Consider donating to some of these agencies at a time when the need in our city is growing.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Conscience Conversations

CONSCIENCE CONVERSATION: 2020—A YEAR IN CIVIC EVANGELIZATION

Despite the strange circumstances of the pandemic, 2020 was an energetic year in the Catholic Conscience apostolate. Read more from Brendan and Matt’s Conscience Conversation:

I am still digesting the Pope’s articulation of the idea of political love. Both you and I, Matt, have always taken the Pope’s concept of “politics as one of the highest forms of charity when ordered to the common good” as a real call-to-action in this work. But the way he expanded on this core idea to articulate a principle of political love. In arguing convincingly that those in politics–especially those who call themselves disciples of Christ!–must exercise a tender love for others, he asks bold questions for those whose vocation brings them into the realm of political and civic life: “How much love did I put into my work?” “What did I do for the progress of our people?” “What mark did I leave on the life of society?” “What real bonds did I create?” “What positive forces did I unleash?” “How much social peace did I sow?” “What good did I achieve in the position that was entrusted to me?”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Serving Your Community

HELP THE HOMELESS AND VULNERABLE THIS WINTER IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF TORONTO

The Archdiocese of Toronto keeps a page on its website where volunteer opportunities with Catholic organizations are shared. You can click the link below and see the full page, but we wanted to share a request for certain items from the Good Shepherd. This organization serves homeless people in downtown Toronto and it remains a critical service in COVID-19. Here’s how you can help:

The Good Shepherd,” as it is affectionately called, is well known on the streets of Toronto. It’s a place to get a meal, clean clothes, a safe, clean bed for the night. It’s a place to go when you need someone to listen, someone to help. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Good Shepherd remains an “essential” service and is open to care for the homeless. At this time, 700 bagged lunches are served daily. If you are able to support their important work, here is a list of items most in need – they can be dropped off at 412 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON or call (416) 869-3619 for more information: 

  • Hospital Grade Disinfectant
  • Surgical Face Masks
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Cheese Slices
  • Deli Meat (i.e. Ham, Bologna, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Juice Boxes
  • Chips
  • Individually Wrapped Cookies
  • Granola Bars
  • Sliced Bread
  • Bread Rolls (i.e. Sub Buns, Hamburger Buns, etc.)
  • Paper Lunch Bags
  • Ziplock Sandwich Bags

From The Holy Father

POPE FRANCIS DECLARES THE YEAR OF SAINT JOSEPH—FOSTER FATHER OF OUR SAVIOUR, GUARDIAN OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, AND PATRON SAINT OF WORKERS AND CANADA

Devotees of Saint Joseph were overjoyed at the news Pope Francis is declaring 2021 the Year of Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph is part of Catholic Conscience’s Board of Patron Saints—as patron of families, workers, Canada, and guardian of the Universal Church, his support and guidance touches on all aspects of our apostolate. In our ministry, we work to inspire well-formed Catholic civic and political leadership among the laity—the “ordinary people”, often “overlooked”, who Pope Francis so honours in his apostolic letter announcing the Year of Saint Joseph:

My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They understood that no one is saved alone… How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all”. Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL APOSTOLIC LETTER

Prayer

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER TO SAINT JOSEPH FOR THE GRACE OF CONVERSION

Pope Francis wrote this prayer as part of his apostolic letter announcing the Year of Saint Joseph. In the words of the Holy Father, “We need only ask Saint Joseph for the grace of graces: our conversion.”

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.

Lord, where there is darkness, let me bring your light

June 2020 Common Good Catholic (Newsletter)

Thinking of St. Francis, and asking God to make us instruments of His peace

Dear friends,

I’m sure we all wondered what further chaos and discord 2020 could bring. And of course, 2020 did not disappoint us. The death of George Floyd in the United States and other people of colour across North America has sparked painful social upheaval. We have seen both peaceful protests and deadly riots in our cities. And everywhere, we see pain and anguish—the pain of those of our neighbours who feel racism’s heavy burden and sharp sting; the pain of family members who have lost loved ones; the pain of those whose lives have been injured in these riots, people who were already suffering as a result of coronavirus. These issues provoke powerful emotions and senses of injustice. Amidst such upheaval, what are Catholic citizens called to do?

For us, the Prayer of Saint Francis comes to mind. Those beautiful words that are so hard to live: Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is offence, let me bring pardon. Where there is discord, let me bring union. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring your light. How do we stand amidst pain, anger, and injustice, and live those words? Amid these tense and polarized issues, it is easy to see those we disagree with as inhuman monsters. God does not see them that way. He sees them as unique, irreplaceable, precious children, imbued with a dignity that comes from Him.

How do we respect the dignity of those we disagree with? It starts by listening more than talking. Hearing the suffering of others and treating it like the suffering of a dear family member. And then acting—addressing the suffering in a constructive, empowering way. Refusing to harm others in the process. Seeking a peace rooted in justice—the exact kind of peace we are called to create, in building the Kingdom of God.

May the Lord make you an instrument of his peace. We need those instruments now like never before.

With love,
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven

WORKS OF MERCY IN OUR COMMUNITY

SUPPORT AWARD-WINNING CATHOLIC JOURNALISM: DONATE TO THE CATHOLIC REGISTER
 
Journalism is essential in a democracy like ours. Journalists bring us essential information about our culture, politics, and economies which help us discern the truth and determine our actions as citizens—how we vote, how we serve, and more. Journalism has been especially critical during COVID-19, so Canadians have access to the most up-to-date information for keeping themselves and their families safe. We are blessed in Canada to have access to high-quality Catholic journalism, in particular from the Catholic Register. We are especially blessed because that journalism is free—unlike many other media sites, the Register does not charge readers for its news.
 
The Register has delivered faith-based journalism for over 125 years. Let’s help them continue for another 125. Please consider a donation in support of the mission of Catholic journalism. Click here to read the Catholic Register—and be sure to bookmark it on your browser! It’s always a great source of Catholic news. And click here to make a donation.

CONSCIENCE CONVERSATIONS

CONSCIENCE CONVERSATION: What is subsidiarity? Understanding one of “the most constant… directives of the Church’s social doctrine

Many Catholics understand Catholic ideas of the common good and solidarity. But what about the third essential pillar of that triad, subsidiarity? Subsidiarity is the principle that social decisions should always be pushed to the lowest level that they can be responsibly left to. In their latest Conscience Conversation, Matt and Brendan explore the idea of subsidiarity and how it informs Catholic thinking on political and communal life.

“Properly applied, subsidiarity is a critical tool for preserving individual and social freedom, which itself is one of the fundamental values of the Church’s social teaching.  The idea is that each of us should retain the maximum responsible amount of control over our own lives, so that we can put the unique gifts God has entrusted to us to work in seeking our own proper paths back to God. Government should not do things that can responsibly be left to us to do for ourselves, or left to our families or our communities; to ethical and responsible private initiatives such as business, civil society organizations, the press, schools, or the church; or to more-localized levels of government… this enables each of us to maximize our opportunities for learning and growth. It also ensures that policies reflect of the legitimate and particular needs and concerns of local communities, respecting that it is most often these local communities that best understand their needs.”

Read the rest of the conversation by clicking here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

THURSDAY, JUNE 11
End of Life Issues: Legal and Ethical Considerations – 2020 Update
 
Our friends at the Thomas More Lawyers Guild of Toronto are organizing an event looking at proposed amendments to Canada’s euthanasia law and its implications for Catholic lawyers and society at large. Details below:
 
The Guild, in collaboration with the Newman Centre Catholic Mission (U of T), is co-sponsoring a program on the proposed amendments to the euthanasia law in Canada.  The Law Society of Ontario has accredited the program with two (2) CPD Professionalism hours.
 
On February 24th, 2020, the federal government introduced Bill C-7 – An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). The law in Canada is evolving rapidly towards a “euthanasia on demand” regime. As Catholic lawyers, this program will assist us in responding to the evolving areas of euthanasia, assisted suicide and assisted death in Canada through a renewed understanding of the key dimensions of a Catholic vision of care for the seriously ill and dying. The principles that guide Catholics through medical treatment and pain control decisions will be examined, including the role of wills, powers of attorney and other advanced directives (such as living wills) and legal safeguards. The importance of spiritual preparation for death and accompanying the seriously ill and dying will also be considered.
 
We hope you will join us for this important webinar on Thursday, June 11th from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.  You can register by simply clicking here.
 
There is no charge for this CPD program.  Donations are gratefully accepted.  Funds will be used to defray the costs of the webinar and net proceeds will be shared equally between the Guild and the Newman Centre Catholic Mission. 

SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY

PAN-CANADIAN VOLUNTEER MATCHING PROGRAM: Use this tool to find volunteer opportunities that match your skills and passions, right where you live
 
Community leaders like you are needed like never before. Many of us remain in lockdown, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative and critical ways to volunteer and serve our neighbours from home! This is a great tool created by Volunteer Canada to help identify volunteer opportunities that fit your interests and skill sets where you live. You can find volunteer opportunities based on your location, how you want to serve, who you want to serve, what causes you want to serve, what skills you want to develop, and more. Follow God’s call to lead your community: click here to use the tool.

FROM THE HOLY FATHER

Photo of Pope Francis

FROM THE HOLY FATHER: The Pope’s message to the English-speaking world about racism and street violence
 
As always, Pope Francis is a model for all of us when it comes to engaging in the public square with our faith and values in mind. In his General Audience of June 3, the Holy Father addressed the scourge of racism and the sometimes-violent street demonstrations that are taking place across the English-speaking world:
 
“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life… “At the same time, we have to recognize that ‘the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost’.”
 
Watch the Pope’s entire message by clicking here.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING: Should Canada have a four-day work week?

With so many Canadians working from home and facing the challenges that come from working indoors for so much of their days, many have begun to consider the merits of implementing a four-day work week. Finding the balance between work and life-giving leisure is an important theme in Catholic social teaching, and its analysis of the role of employment in society. “When the organization of work takes the family hostage or blocks its progress, then we can be certain society has begun working against itself,” Pope Francis has said. Many of us are addicted to work, with harmful side effects for our families and communities. Catholic social teaching places great emphasis on the dignity imparted by work which supports the common good, but also cautions against work that undermines a balance with other essential parts of life like family and prayer. This segment of TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin brings together experts to discuss the advantages and challenges of a four-day work week.

Click here to watch the full panel.

PRAYER

THE PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS
 
Pray for all of those who live burdened by the injustice of racism, and those whose lives have been harmed by the social upheaval across North America. Keep them all in your hearts.
 
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

The greatest act of solidarity in the history of the world?

May 2020 Common Good Catholic (Newsletter)

Coming closer to God, our Christian community, and to the Canadians we serve – even as we remain apart Dear friends,

We hope you and your families are safe and healthy as we continue our lockdown in the face of coronavirus. This has been a strange time for all of us. It’s been defined by so much fear—for our own health, the health of our loved ones, and the health of our wider society. And of course, for so many, those fears have been cruelly realized. Too many have died from this terrible disease and too many loved ones have been lost. We pray for all of those who have suffered loss at this time.

At the same time, we remain hopeful for the future of Canada and our fellow Canadians because we’re seeing extraordinary solidarity within our communities. Beyond this, so many are growing closer to God in this time. We hear from so many friends and family that there is more praying, more spiritual thinking, more striving to understand God’s purposes for us. And of course, even as we are isolating, we continue to serve our neighbours—donating our time and money, offering hot meals, comforting the sick and afflicted, and more. We at Catholic Conscience continue our program planning for 2020. We’re excited to bring you new programs and events once this crisis passes—all aimed at our mission of forming Common Good Catholics rooted in Catholic social teaching, to serve Canadians in politics and civic life.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the Common Good Catholic, rich with stories of hope and Christian love in dangerous times. May they remind you that even as we remain physically isolated from one another, our collective love for neighbour has never been stronger. We hope you find your own way to express that love through concrete acts of service. Read below for just some ways you can give of yourself!

With love,
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven

WORKS OF MERCY IN OUR COMMUNITY

HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE AT A GREATER RISK OF COVID-19. LUCKILY, THERE’S A GOOD SHEPHERD.
 
On the streets of Toronto, Good Shepherd Ministries is a comforting name. A Catholic agency, the Good Shepherd provides hot meals, clean clothes, a clean bed, and more for homeless people living in Toronto. Good Shepherd brings together volunteers, donors, religious, and others to bring dignity and love to those living on the streets. In the words of their Executive Director, Brother David Lynch, “Homelessness isn’t my problem. It isn’t your problem. It isn’t the government’s problem. It isn’t the faith community’s problem. Homelessness is our problem. Only when we work together can we make a difference.” Let’s work together with them, now when our neighbours need us more than ever before.
 
Read more about Good Shepherd Ministries on the Archdiocese of Toronto’s blog by clicking here. And click here to donate to Good Shepherd Ministries and support their work during COVID-19—let’s stand with the most vulnerable among us and see Christ in every person!

CONSCIENCE CONVERSATIONS

CONSCIENCE CONVERSATION: The greatest act of solidarity in the history of the world

In this edition of our Conscience Conversations, Matt and Brendan reflect on the everyday heroism and holiness of ordinary people in the time of COVID-19— “A holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence.”

“In this moment of agony I can’t help but see God’s reflection in all those around me and across the country, Christian and irreligious alike. I see it in every kindness and small act of service. And I see how these little actions, compelled by the Holy Spirit, are together moving mountains of holiness in the world. An enormous plurality of humanity is locked indoors together. Is this the greatest single act of solidarity in the history of the world? Billions of people huddled inside, to prevent the transmission of a virus which destroys the life of the most vulnerable among us? I can’t help but see the holiness in that. I can’t help but drink up its implications.”

Read the full conversation by clicking here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

GLOBAL CATHOLIC CLIMATE MOVEMENT: #LiveLaudatoSi Learning Webinar on Women of Faith & Ecoleaders
 
Our friends at Global Catholic Climate Movement are hosting a webinar with two women of faith leading the way in building an integral human ecology and sustainable future for the world. This webinar is a part of Laudato Si Week, an excellent time to reflect on the crisis of climate change and how we can collectively build an economy and culture which promotes the full, authentic development of the human person, closely connected to God’s creation, as Pope Francis called for in his ground-breaking Laudato Si exhortation.
 
Click here to RSVP!

SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY

Join the COVID-19 Volunteer Response Team

Volunteer Toronto—Canada’s largest volunteer centre, connecting volunteers to the organizations that need them—has been organizing a special volunteer response team for COVID-19. They periodically send email updates to subscribers, sharing volunteer roles to help play a part in serving those most affected by the crisis. Sign-up if you’re still looking for ways to help your community get through this struggle.

Click here to sign-up.

FROM THE HOLY FATHER

Photo of Pope Francis
FROM THE HOLY FATHER: Pope Francis says pandemic can be a “place of conversion”
 
In a rare English-language interview for The Tablet in April, Pope Francis reflected on the coronavirus crisis and the personal and societal changes he hopes to see after the crisis ends:
 
“You ask me about conversion. Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity: the opportunity to move out from the danger. Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption (Laudato Si’, 191) and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world. We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion.

“Yes, I see early signs of an economy that is less liquid, more human. But let us not lose our memory once all this is past, let us not file it away and go back to where we were. This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it. We have lost the contemplative dimension; we have to get it back at this time.

“And speaking of contemplation, I’d like to dwell on one point. This is the moment to see the poor. Jesus says we will have the poor with us always, and it’s true. They are a reality we cannot deny. But the poor are hidden, because poverty is bashful.”

 
Click here to read the full interview.
Join Pope Francis for daily Mass online
 
The COVID-19 crisis has brought a new and special closeness between the Pope and the global Catholic community, no matter where we live. Since the start of the pandemic and the closure of public Masses around the world, Pope Francis has begun to livestream his daily Masses from Santa Marta chapel in Vatican City. After the live stream, a video of the Mass is posted on the Vatican News website.

Click here to watch recent Masses and the latest Mass with Pope Francis—join him in praying for all of us affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING: Cardinal Collins’ reflection for Catholic Education Week

In the parish, the home, and the school, we are blessed in Ontario to enjoy world-class Catholic education across our province. This education grounds us in our faith, our Gospel values, and it’s where the mission of forming Common Good Catholics begins—for the good of us all. We greatly enjoyed last week’s reflection on Catholic education by Cardinal Thomas Collins, as Ontarians celebrated Catholic Education Week.

“That’s what Catholic education is all about: It lifts us beyond ourselves, and sends us out to serve our neighbour, and in doing that, to serve our Lord God.”

Watch the full reflection by clicking here.

To learn more about Catholic education in our province, follow Catholic Education in Ontario on Facebook by clicking here.

PRAYER

THE PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS
 
Pray for all of those who live burdened by the injustice of racism, and those whose lives have been harmed by the social upheaval across North America. Keep them all in your hearts.
 
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

At the end of April, our Holy Father wrote and shared two new prayers with the Catholic faithful, both aimed at bringing a swift end to the coronavirus crisis. Please join the Catholic community all around the world in praying these words with our Pope.

First Prayer to Our Lady

O Mary,
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
Amen.

We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

The second Prayer

“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.

Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

THE PRAYER OF SAINT FRANCIS
 
Pray for all of those who live burdened by the injustice of racism, and those whose lives have been harmed by the social upheaval across North America. Keep them all in your hearts.
 
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

Catholic Conscience’s E-Newsletter

April 2020 Common Good Catholic (Newsletter)

Living with Christian hope during the worst pandemic of our lives

 Dear friends,

These are strange and unsettling times. Every day we read and hear fresh news about the COVID-19 pandemic, provoking anxiety and fear. For myself, times like these make me especially thankful for the gift of faith. One of my favourite lines from Scripture is Luke 22:42, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.” We trust God will lead us through this trial and closer to Him. In these strange times, our Pope’s pastoral mastery is a constant comfort. I’m sure many of you participated in the global rosary the Holy Father led on March 19. Pope Francis once described the church as a battlefield hospital: “The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity.” The Church as healer, as hospital for the wounded, is a vision that has never felt more relevant than now.

Here at Catholic Conscience, all of you—and all Canadians—are in our prayers. This is the first edition of our new monthly e-newsletter, jam-packed with the latest updates on Catholic citizenship and the work of our community in the world. We hope it comforts you and fills you with Christian hope in these dark times. We just completed Catholic Conscience’s strategic planning process, with many new programs and events to come. But for now, like you, we await the passing of this trial. We stand with you—together in solidarity!

With love,
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven

WORKS OF MERCY IN OUR COMMUNITY

SOCIETY OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL CONTINUES SERVING THE POOR AMIDST CORONAVIRUS

For Catholics, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a household name—many parishes have a Vincentian conference dedicated to serving Christ by serving our most vulnerable neighbours. The primary method of Vincentian service is person-to-person contact: building community and relationship by visiting vulnerable neighbours in their homes, providing food vouchers, clothing vouchers, and other supports. With the COVID-19 pandemic those home visits have been suspended, but Vincentians continue to serve. One Toronto conference is mailing community members food vouchers. The Greater Toronto Central Council, which oversees all Vincentian conferences in the GTA, continues their special works serving many of those most vulnerable to COVID-19: the elderly, the sick, those living with disabilities, addictions, and other challenges.

We must work together as a community to protect and uplift those people Christ loved most—the most vulnerable are those he most identified with. Consider a donation to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Greater Toronto Central Council to support their work in this difficult time.

Click here to see their website.
Click here to donate.

CONSCIENCE CONVERSATIONS

Serving in the “field hospital” with prayer and quiet service

Pope Francis once described the Church as a “field hospital” for healing wounds. That mission has never felt more apt in the era of the coronavirus pandemic. Matt and Brendan discuss what it means to love and serve our neighbour in this crisis, and how Catholic citizens must rise to this moment. In the words of Pope Francis: “Prayer and quiet service—these are our victorious weapons.”

Read the full conversation by clicking here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Spiritual Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic
 
Usually we will use this section to highlight upcoming events and initiatives you can participate in—but of course, all events are currently on-hold. That has included a suspension of public Masses. How can we stay connected to the life of the Church and our life as Christians, even as we remain indoors and physically distant from each other? The Archdiocese of Toronto has compiled these excellent spiritual resources for this moment, including instructions on how to receive a Spiritual Communion—click here and learn more.
 
We may not be praying together in church, but we are all praying together in spirit!

SERVING YOUR COMMUNITY

FRIENDLY NEIGHBOUR HOTLINE: To help vulnerable seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic

University Health Network’s OpenLab in Toronto is helping vulnerable seniors—the group most at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic—by mobilizing volunteers to deliver groceries and other household essentials. The service gives priority to seniors living in low-income housing. Since this initiative was first announced on March 13, 2020, close to 600 volunteers have stepped forward to offer assistance to the thousands of seniors living in low-income housing across the city. Together, they operate the Friendly Neighbour Hotline, a single phone number seniors living in low-income housing in Toronto can call, connected to a network of volunteers throughout the city who can help with picking up groceries and household essentials during this difficult time.

If you’re looking for a way to support your vulnerable neighbours in Toronto during this crisis, this is a great way to do it!

Click here to learn more and become a volunteer.

FROM THE HOLY FATHER

Photo of Pope Francis

FROM THE HOLY FATHER: The Pope’s special Easter Message for social movements
 
“Our civilization—so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few—needs to downshift, take stock and renew itself.” These are just some of the extraordinary words of Pope Francis in a special letter addressed to social movements around the world—inspiring words as the Pope calls on organizations like ours to continue our work building a more just and humane world.
 
“I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the center.”
 
Click here to read more excerpts from this beautiful letter.

Join Pope Francis for daily Mass online
 
The COVID-19 crisis has brought a new and special closeness between the Pope and the global Catholic community, no matter where we live. Since the start of the pandemic and the closure of public Masses around the world, Pope Francis has begun to livestream his daily Masses from Santa Marta chapel in Vatican City. After the live stream, a video of the Mass is posted on the Vatican News website.

Click here to watch recent Masses and the latest Mass with Pope Francis—join him in praying for all of us affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Revolution of the Heart, the Dorothy Day Story

A new documentary on the life and Christian witness of Dorothy Day—the legendary American Catholic convert and political activist—is bringing new light and attention to the example of this extraordinary woman. Though American, Dorothy’s personal and public commitment to Catholic social teaching—in her own life and in her political activism—is legendary. She is a shining example of what it means to be an active Catholic citizen.

Through Dorothy Day’s journey from young, communist journalist, to her awakening as co-founder of The Catholic Worker newspaper and “houses of hospitality,” sheltering and feeding New York City’s homeless during the Great Depression, emerges a portrait of a selfless woman who followed her heart to better the lives of those less fortunate.

You can watch the entire documentary for free via PBS by clicking here.

PRAYER

POPE FRANCIS’ PRAYER TO MARY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Effective Participation in Political Parties (Panel Discussion)

Catholic Conscience and the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto are presenting a panel discussion on effective participation in politics and political parties.

Panelists include:

  • Jo-Ann Davis, former TCDSB chair and 2018 Liberal MPP Candidate for University-Rosedale
  • Brendan Steven, former speechwriter for Conservative Finance Minister Joe Oliver
  • Dave Szollosy, former president OECTA, and 2018 NDP MPP candidate for York Simcoe
  • Nick Wright, member of the Governing Board of the Law Society of Ontario and 2014, 2015 Green Party candidate
  • Moderator: Matthew Marquardt, Executive Director Catholic Conscience
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