Family Life Tips and Tools

Adopt-A-Seminarian Program

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God calls every person to a personal vocation of holiness and evangelization. Whether we are called to the priesthood, religious, married, or single life, our vocation is a lifelong journey of faith in service to God and each other. Our gifts and talents are meant to be shared with our parish family and extended community. Every Catholic is called to contribute to the life of the Church and shares the responsibility of promoting and nurturing vocations.

Seminarians represent the future of the Church. They are dedicated to serving the Lord and his flock, but their path is not easy. These aspiring priests are undeterred by the arduous studies and lifetime commitment to self-sacrifice and humble devotion. Their journey involves up to eight years of seminary formation and one year of pastoral internship, along with considerable prayer, dedication, and hard work.

St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton forms these devout men into masters of scripture, liturgy, and holistic ministry through an intense program of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation. It offers more than degrees in philosophy and theology. It prepares seminarians for ordination to the priesthood and a life of ministry in parishes where they will serve as shepherds of God’s people.

Times of prayer, papers, exams, community activities, pastoral activities and everything else that makes up seminary life adds up very quickly...the monthly cards I received from the CWL were a constant reminder of the future ministry I was preparing for and, in times of difficulty or doubt, a great source of encouragement to persevere.
Fr. Santiago Torres
All Saints Parish, Lethbridge


With the priest shortage, this long-standing initiative of Calgary Diocesan Council is a tangible way to promote vocations and encourage more men to answer the call. The objective is to connect every seminarian in the Diocese of Calgary with a CWL council that will provide prayerful support and encouragement during his vocational formation.

The program gets members involved by inviting councils to “adopt” a seminarian. It is a grace-filled way to support vocations and contribute to the vitality of the Church, while taking an active role in the League’s Faith Ministry.


Several councils have already adopted seminarians and are building valued relationships. As more men will likely begin their formation this fall, our goal is to ensure that all are adopted by late October. Every seminarian deserves the support and every council is invited to experience the joy of “Walking Together” with them on their priestly journey.

Adopting councils will be randomly matched with a seminarian for the duration of his formation. If there are more councils than seminarians, two may be asked to partner or will be put on a waiting list.

All councils are asked to pray for seminarians at their meetings. Non-adopting councils can still support them by mailing Christmas and Easter cards to St. Joseph’s Seminary. This would be a fun and rewarding group activity!

The mutual benefits exceed the commitment. The program gives future priests a spiritual and emotional boost during their studies and enhances members’ spiritual growth.

To participate, councils must have members’ support and commit to the entire formation period. Adoption is a pledge to uplift seminarians by writing monthly letters of encouragement and reminders that members are praying for them.


Assign a program coordinator to engage and update members, organize a letter-writing schedule, and remind writers of their designated month. Ideally, letters should be mailed by a consistent date, such as the 1st of each month.

Program coordinators are the official liaison with seminarians and should be the only person to correspond by email. The direct connection helps to obtain mailing address changes during seminary breaks, etc. and inform writers for prompt letter delivery.

Adding the program to meeting agendas is an effective way to pray for seminarians and update members on their well-being and formation progress.

Sending info and photos on council activities creates insight on the CWL and helps build relationships. Both bode well for future spiritual advisors!


Postage stamps are the only actual costs, though members often supply stamps and greeting cards. Monetary gifts are optional, based on each council’s funds. Some include the program in their budget and send Mass cards, greeting cards, and cheques of up to $100 on special occasions like birthdays, Easter, and Christmas. Members are welcome to include personal gift cards with their letters, such as Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Walmart, etc.


Watch the Diocesan website for announcements about new seminarians starting their formation this fall. To learn more or sign up for the program, contact Dr. Rose Geonzon, Christian Family Life Chair.

Respectfully submitted,
Diane Miedema, Diocesan Treasurer
(St. Ambrose CWL, Coaldale)



Respect Life Display Banners

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The Calgary Pro-Life Assn. Board of Directors is pleased to launch the beautiful traveling Respect Life Display Banner Program featuring pictorial pro-life messages. With a plan to share high-quality display banners specifically designed to educate, inspire and inform about respect for life from conception until natural death, the organization has a continued mission to build a culture of life. Calgary Pro-Life Assn. focuses on the educational aspects of protecting and promoting respect for every human life from conception, through childhood, through adolescence, and through adulthood and old age, until death. Our programs encourage students in grade school to respect themselves, their families, teachers, elders, the community, and their classmates. Now, we have an opportunity to share positive, life-affirming messages with the greater community through large, but silent, display banners that show and tell about what it really means to be pro-life in our time. Our photos can safely be shown to any person of any age to celebrate the sanctity of each unique human life from the beginning until natural death.

A number Pro-life display banners are now available to be used for pro-life awareness and education in your school, or church during special events, sacramental preparation, at pro-life weekend services, etc.

To receive a Respect Life Display Banner package, and to learn more about the project, please email or call (403) 243-0691 today.


Christian Family Life - Fall 2020 Memo

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DATE: October 9, 2020
FROM: Pat Deppiesse, national chairperson of Christian family life
TO: Parish chairpersons of Christian family life

Greetings dear sisters in the League! I do hope you are enjoying the beautiful late summer that we are now experiencing. The children are all back to school, and we are all praying they stay safe during this terrible pandemic. Many of us have had a lovely summer off and are hopefully enthusiastically embracing getting back to League work, particularly that of the Christian family life standing committee. Like myself, some of you may be in the third year of your term—we are all in this together! Stay safe, healthy and calm!

As pointed out in the Christian Family Life Study Kit which can be found on the national website under 600 Series: Manuals, “When we think of part (c) of the standing committee, called ‘ministry to,’ we should really consider it as our call from Jesus to walk beside, to interact with the other person. ‘So that they may be one, as we are one’ (John 16:22). We should ask ourselves, what can we do as a CWL council; indeed, what can I do as a person, to make another's way easier? Our mission is to enable other people, to help them stand on their own as one who is graciously loved by God. Recalling the words of Jesus, (Matt 25:40) ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”

Read entire memo

Autumn Activities

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16 ways to celebrate All Saints' Day with your family
Here are 16 great ideas for how you and your family can celebrate this feast day in your own Catholic home. Note that some of these activities might not be ideal during COVID-19 season, nevertheless, can be done safely within your family this year. Read more 

7 ways to celebrate All Souls Day as a family
All Souls Day is a time for families to reflect on those loved ones who are no longer with us. Make this day a special day for the whole family, past and present. Aleteia shares some activities that are both spiritual and sometimes joyful, to share as a whole family on this special day. Read more 

Here is a wonderful opportunity to tie in our Catholic Faith in the carving of pumpkins this month. As shared in Catholic Cuisine, many children look forward to choosing a pumpkin and carving their "Saint-O-Lantern! Check out these inspiring Saint-O-Lanterns

You and your family may also enjoy their recipes for Liturgical Seasons & Feast Days throughout the year.



Support Your Kids' Faith

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Danielle Bean says: "You can say all you want to your kids about the importance of having a prayer life, going to Mass, and receiving the sacraments, but if you are not doing those things, none of what you say matters."

Here are some ideas and resources to help you shape your kids' faith lives. Read show snippets / Listen to podcast


Catholic Podcasts on Catholic Marriage & Family

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If you are looking for some good podcasts on marriage and parenting, check out these projects: 

  • Messy Family Podcast with Mike & Alicia Hernon. "Our mission is to empower parents, strengthen marriage and bring families to Christ. This is done through our podcast, short videos, downloadable resources and live events. We have found that families are hungry for these resources and we are here to help. Marriage and family is where the rubber hits the road with faith and values in our society, and the best thing we can do to help our world is to renew and strengthen marriage and family life.Listen on Apple Podcasts 
  • The Dad Project Podcast: "At The Dad Project, we find experienced dads who have had success in raising kids. We ask them to give short talks, sharing what has worked for them and what hasn't. Our goal is to help men everywhere become the dads they were meant to be. And our hope is to change the world for the better, one dad at a time." Listen on Apple Podcasts
  • Abiding Together Podcast: "Abiding Together is a weekly podcast hosted by Michelle Benzinger, Sr. Miriam James Heidland, and Heather Khym, providing a place of connection, rest and encouragement for people who are on the journey of living out their passion and purpose in Jesus Christ." Listen on Apple Podcasts
  • Coffee & Pearls Podcast: "Join Sterling Jaquith for 15 minutes of wisdom for Catholic moms about spirituality, marriage, motherhood, health, finances, homemaking and recharging!" Listen on Apple Podcas


Personal Directive

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Sudden injury (such as concussion) or illness could abruptly take away your capacity to make decisions. That can happen to people of any age or stage of life. If it happened to you, would your family know your healthcare wishes? Who would speak on your behalf? Would their decisions reflect your wishes, beliefs and values?

Every adult Albertan (18 years of age or older) should have:

A personal directive is a legal document that specifies whom you have chosen to make personal, non-financial decisions on your behalf should you lose the mental capacity to make them due to illness or injury. It ensures that the person you choose is legally entitled to make personal decisions for you if you lose capacity. It gives you control over your future personal matters and brings peace of mind to you and your loved ones.

Preparing it prompts you to:

  • think about your values and healthcare wishes,
  • discuss them with your family,
  • choose a trusted person (or persons) to speak on your behalf,
  • and document a plan that reflects your goals.

You and your family can feel confident knowing that decisions made on your behalf will reflect your wishes.

The documents below are based on the Personal Directives Act in Alberta and are provided for information and guidance only. They are intended to foster open dialogue about crisis and end-of-life decisions with your spouse, parents, children or other close contacts. They are not a substitute for legal advice. Please consult a lawyer to create a customized Personal Directive, Enduring Power of Attorney agreement, and Will.

  • Personal Directive Overview - This is intended for education and guidance only, as we cannot guarantee the completeness, accuracy or reliability of the information in relation to individual needs.
  • "Catholic-Focused" Personal Directive Form - This document is an example of what you might develop. It shows the directive’s structure and type of instructions that could be included to reflect your beliefs and values. It is in Word, so you can edit it to suit your own wishes.

Planning for your future is a wise ‘peace of mind’ investment. A Personal Directive, Enduring Power of Attorney agreement, and Will can all help to reduce stress during times of crisis or grief. They can save time and money; and will help to ensure that your wishes are respected and followed.


Parish Christian Family Life memo Fall 2019

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DATE: September 30, 2019
FROM: Pat Deppiesse, national chairperson of Christian family life
TO: Parish chairpersons of Christian family life
CC: Parish presidents, provincial presidents, diocesan presidents, life members (upon request)
ENCL: Annulments Today, Merciful and Just booklet

Congratulations and welcome to new chairpersons of Christian family life. Thank you for saying, “Yes!” A lot of helpful information exists in the Executive Handbook, the pro-life brochure and communiqués from national, provincial and diocesan council executives. Do not be overwhelmed!

Embrace what can be handled at the parish level and try to inform members of what is happening around the country. Introduce members to something new and important to you. I thank those moving on from this position after serving two (or maybe more) wonderful years! I know you have grown in knowledge and wisdom. Please share all the material you have gathered with the new chairpersons.

The annual report, a compilation of work performed by members throughout Canada, is on the national website under “To Inform.” I want to share some good ideas from annual reporting based on the Christian family life portfolio and hope to give new ideas for the upcoming year.

It is an exciting time in the League as we look forward to the results of the strategic planning initiative. You may hear more about the results thus far through presentations made in the diocesan councils. Please be assured all the good work accomplished in parish councils will continue. It is the structure that will change, with the headings of faith, service and social justice. Remember, this is a five-year initiative—so please be patient!

Marriage and Family
Diocesan websites have lists of Catholic counsellors to support clients who want to adhere to the church’s teachings on life, marriage and family. Watch local Catholic newspapers for upcoming marriage and family workshops. Especially try to attend a presentation on “Theology of the Body.”

Sanctity of Life
Abortion is available in Canada until the time of birth. Following what I thought was a very successful presentation to the provincial government, one member of the legislative assembly stood and asked why were we not talking about abortion! Only resolutions adopted that year were presented. The delegation’s answer was, “Of course we would be pleased to discuss abortion, as members believe in life from conception to natural death!”

At the 99th annual national convention in August in Calgary, the national council adopted Resolution 2019.01 Canada to Honour its Commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. I urge every parish council to read the resolution and support the action plan.

While not feasible for most of us to attend the March for Life in Ottawa this May, I suggest all councils organize a bus and attend the March for Life in a provincial capital. The more people participating, the more attention brought to life issues and thus more media coverage.

Members are encouraged to obtain LifeCanada’s Dying Healed program brochure, Make Time for Life. Its purpose is to give volunteers confidence that being at the bedside of a lonely or dying person is an invaluable service. Workshops include important pastoral and practical aspects of what to say, how to listen and how to be with people who suffer illness, disability and loneliness.

Ministry to Youth
A few parish councils reported having a Catholic Girl’s League. This is a wonderful way to work with youth in the parish. I encourage investigating and participating in this initiative—these girls are future League members! Because these are parish-based group, this initiative requires the pastor’s approval, diocesan insurance coverage and Royal Canadian Mounted Police security checks for all involved.

May I suggest councils get involved with shelters for high-risk youth?

Ministry to Disabled/Seniors/Widowed
Is your parish user-friendly for those with wheelchairs? Members are encouraged to volunteer at local nursing homes in the activity department, to invite seniors to League events and to drive seniors to appointments and shopping excursions. Consider sponsoring a grief and bereavement workshop.

Ministry to Separated and Divorced
In the spring issue of The Canadian League, a Christian family life article had information about how, when some marriages just cannot be saved, the church offers help through the annulment process. To assist with this initiative, included in this mailing is the Annulments Today, Merciful and Just booklet. Canon Law is consistent throughout Canada. I recommend parish councils order copies through the national website and make them available in the parish vestibule. Request the pastor host an informal presentation on the annulment process, inviting someone from the local marriage tribunal to speak.

Does your child or grandchild have an interest in exploring what religious life is about? Why not ask them?
Members are encouraged to discuss vocations with their children and invite priests and religious into their

Please make every effort to complete the annual survey. Share all your good works—this is so important!
I look forward to reading the results! Remember to “print” before you “submit”!

May God bless you as you continue your work “For God and Canada.”
Blessings to all.

Download pdf copy




Parish Christian Family Life memo Fall 2018

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Dear parish council Christian family life chairpersons,

Fondest greetings as I embark on a new journey in The Catholic Women’s League of Canada at the national level! Unable to attend the national convention due to a planned trip to Spain, I returned to find a lovely email greeting from National President Anne-Marie Gorman informing me of my election as standing committee chairperson, and the gift of Christian family life standing committee chairperson. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, pleased and terrified! To be at the national table is an awesome responsibility and one with which I will certainly need the help of the Holy Spirit!

Some of you are new to this position, and many are in their second or even more years in some cases! I look forward to working with you. I encourage you to read the Executive Handbook available on the national website Communiqués from past national and provincial standing committee chairpersons may “speak to you”, revealing something that you would like to make a personal goal for your term. I sent an email to the Catholic Organization for Life and Family requesting a package of their wonderful pamphlets. This is another great resource that may be ordered for a donation or downloaded online at Consider having sub-committee chairpersons. This will not only train members, but may bring forward some new enthusiasm, good ideas and help! Don’t try to “do it all” on your own. Remember Saint Mother Teresa said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

I have reviewed the 19-page tabulated 2017 annual reports and am struck by how much amazing and absolutely wonderful work in each of the initiatives under this committee is being done in parish councils across the country. You are to be applauded and thanked for the generosity of time and financial aid to help the many issues raised under the Christian family life (CFL) standing committee. Unfortunately, of the 1,200 parish councils across the country, CFL only received reports from 666 or 55.5%. I can only assume that the reported work was also being done in the other half of the councils. I encourage you to ensure your good works are recorded next time.

Giving much thought about what my priorities will be for the two-year term, my personal theme will be “How can we help….” and “How can we serve….”. I would like to explore several initiatives, and seek your help to do this. I would like to investigate present actions and those we may wish to initiate to help with issues like domestic abuse, annulment procedures, abortion and its aftereffects, and unplanned pregnancy support.

What is in place in your parish, diocese or province? How are you already involved in helping these injured people? I hope to talk about these subjects in future communiqués and articles and would appreciate hearing about parish council activities regarding these subjects and/or what you might like me to investigate further.
Please feel free to contact me by phone or by e-mail to share your thoughts.

Ministry to Youth
The Prime Minister’s Youth Council is an advisory board created in 2016. Up to 30 Canadian youth aged 16 to 24 comprise the non-partisan board. They advise the prime minister on education, economy, climate change and other issues affecting youth. The call for applications is currently underway with a deadline of November 30, 2018. For more information visit

Please pray for the Synod on Young People focused on the theme of Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment taking place October 28, 2018, in Rome. Watch for the results of the synod.

Sanctity of Life
The Petition of One Million 2019, a project initiated by Ontario Alliance for Life, calls upon the federal government to enact legislation granting full legal protection to an unborn child from the beginning of its biological development as a human being, the same protection granted to any other human being. The petition will be presented to the federal government in 2019. Encourage members to visit for more information or to obtain a copy. If you have signed it, thank you.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has an excellent new DVD entitled Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death, which asks the question, “Should we be giving medical professionals the legal right to end the life of another human being?” Visit for more information or to purchase a copy. Consider sharing it with family, council members and parishioners.

I am attending Life Canada’s upcoming conference and gala, September 29, 2018 in Vancouver entitled Science, Darwinism and the Human Person. Guest speakers include: John G. West, PhD, vice-president of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and associate director of the institute’s Center for Science and Culture; and Camille Pauley, co-founder and president of Healing the Culture, a non-profit organization that evangelizes and converts people to be deeply, authentically and permanently pro-life.

I look forward to meeting you at conventions, and certainly through correspondence. I also look forward to meeting provincial Christian family life chairpersons and reviewing their communiqués to keep up to date with what is happening in each province. Best wishes to you in proclaiming the ideals of the Catholic church through this standing committee. Please be sure to give a short report at each meeting to inform members of the issues and inspire involvement. Contact me if there is anything I can help you with. I will keep you in my prayers and ask you to keep me in yours! Have a beautiful fall and a happy return to the joy of working “For God and Canada” through The Catholic Women’s League of Canada.

Pat Deppiesse, national chairperson of Christian family life

October 5, 2018