Antigonish, NS – HLI’s first small-town Strategy Weekend on issues affecting life, faith and family was held here May 14-16. It was attended by some 300 Atlantic Canadians of all ages.
Audience participation following each information-packed presentation left no doubt that they felt grave concern about the social and spiritual needs of contemporary Canadian society. A recurring theme throughout the weekend was the pressing need for a return to basic morality.
In the opening seminar, HLI president Fr. Matthew Habiger, OSB, declared, “In Humanae Vitae’s 25th anniversary year, it is more appropriate to give special attention to this truly prophetic document and its companion document Familiaris Consortio.”
He urged his listeners to become familiar with them, and to be open to their total message about well-lived marriages and Christ-centred homes.
In a later session, he focused on true chastity formation as a solution to many current social and spiritual ills.
Using the theme “The Truth Shall Set You Free,” Fr. Joe Hattie of Vancouver, taught about informed conscience.
“We are responsible for what we do, and for what we become as a result of our actions. It is important that we become what we are meant to be,” he said.
He also taught about the philosophy and lifestyle of natural family planning as the basis for a moral life.
Fr. Hattie holds a doctorate from the John Paul Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family in Rome.
Author Michael J. Wrenn continued the theme of basic morality as he touched on theology, dissent, and efforts to undermine the coming Catechism for the Universal Church. Wrenn is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in downtown New York and has lectured on religious education throughout the world.
Dr. William Coulson’s seminars on the self-esteem movement in education and particularly in sex education, disturbed many. A psychologist, researcher and counselor, Dr. Coulson helped develop and promote the widely-used feelings-based “facilitator” approach to group activities. Today he calls it “youth suicide,” and says it should never have been used in schools.
“Expecting children to dope with the great issues of life by using decision-making skills is all wrong. When they want to play in the middle of the street, we simply tell them it’s wrong. We must get back to using the same approach with regard to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, pre-marital sex, and other things we know are spiritually, morally and physically harmful,” he said.
Today, Dr. Coulson says with profound regret, “The self-esteem approach has proven very destructive as an educational tool, harmful to society, and totally inappropriate outside of therapeutic settings.” He now devotes his energies to reversing the movement he helped launch.
His remarks made listeners all the more receptive to a seminar on home schooling, which in Eastern Canada is still a minor growing movement. It was presented by Albertan Terese Ferri, a lawyer, and her psychiatrist husband, Mike, who home-teach their 11 children .
Participants and faculty so clearly regarded the weekend as a resounding success that HLI plans to hole another Strategy Weekend in New Brunswick in the spring of 1994.