Sharing our Caring results in a rich morning of reflection and dialogue on end-of-life issues

Close to 100 people gathered at St. Basil Parish on Rex Ave, Ottawa, on Sat., Nov. 5th for a morning of rich reflection and dialogue on end-of-life issues. The session was hosted by Marie West and the pastoral care team members from the parish. Participants noted the timely nature of this discussion in light of Bill C-407, a bill requesting the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada, being recently introduced into parliament. People who work in pastoral care across the diocese engaged in dynamic, passionate, and deeply compassionate dialogue about end-of-life issues.

  Dr.John Scott Dr. François Poitras

Dr. John Scott, a pioneer of palliative care in Canada, and Dr. François Poitras, moral theologian, provided rich and helpful input.

Facilitated by Carol Kuzmochka, diocesan co-ordinator of adult faith development for the English sector of the archdiocese, this session drew on the recently completed DVD In Support of Life that helps to raise the issues from a catholic perspective. Archbishop Gervais is featured in this DVD. Two resource persons, physician Dr. John Scott, a pioneer of palliative care in Canada, and Dr. François Poitras, a moral theologian, helped the discussion tremendously by adding their perspectives about important issues in this regard. These resource persons challenged participants to be aware of how we may fall into language and a perspective of 'technocracy that leads to the diminishment of life and an inability to embrace the dying process as a deeply significant part of living, rich and full of life and faith. The way in which our great Pope John Paul II lived his final days was used as a prime example of honouring and utilizing the contributions of modern science while, and at the same time, respecting the mystery of life and death. The resource persons challenged participants to engage end-of-life issues firmly grounded in the teachings of faith, and filled with compassion. Each of them pointed out that legalized euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would tragically diminish the sanctity of life in our country.

Participants engaged in very significant dialogue and reflection about these issues, bringing to the fore many of the pressing questions that arise with this debate. Many involved in

pastoral care reflected on the great privilege of their ministry and the holiness of the journey with those who are ill and dying. It is sacred ground that needs to be honored and protected. The need for good palliative care and a commitment to being with was emphasized as the way to support the life of the dying. People need to be aware of the many good resources available to them in our community.

A project called In Support of Life has been launched in parishes across our diocese to help people engage in important dialogue and reflection about the needs of the dying and those who care for them. Contact Carol Kuzmochka, 738-5025 (x251), ckuzmochka@ecclesia- for further information.

Sharing our Caring has become an annual gathering of formation and networking for all engaged in pastoral care in the diocese.