For centuries the family has been accepted by people of all nations as the foundation of human society. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” is one of the old adages which have defied the ravages of time and is as true today as it was when first spoken. But, unfortunately, the hand that rocks the cradle in our time is not always the “hand” to which the proverb originally referred. And that sad circumstance is probably one of the primary reasons for the crumbling of the family foundation.

One of a number of organizations in Canada dedicated to the defence of life and family is the St. Joseph’s Workers for Life and Family. It was founded by Sister Lucille Durocher a few years ago and is growing daily. Lucille Durocher invited me to be the speaker at their first conference. I am always ready to oblige as it involves a delicious free dinner and a very lively audience.

Apart from the banquet speaker, the performances were both inspiring and informative. The first to take the podium was Dr. William Marra, a professor of philosophy at Fordham University, N.Y. His subject was, “The Vocation of the Christian Family in the Modern World.” Needless to say he expounded on it with the acumen and eloquence of a seasoned professor and fielded questions with the expertise of a baseball catcher.

It was interesting and significant that several of the speakers stressed the importance of home schooling. Carol Sage explained how she found herself almost in conscience bound to home school her daughter because of the child’s almost total ignorance of her religion and other subjects. Chris Corkery, a lawyer, spoke on “The Right of the Family and Home Schooling.” He explained the old principle that the parents are the main educators of their children –not the state – and therefore have the right to home school their children.

The talk which touched hearts more than any was delivered by Anne McNeely, who looks as if she is in her late twenties but is the mother of eleven children. Ten are already born (the eldest is 18) and the eleventh is obviously knocking on the door and demanding to see the light of day.

She had the audience laughing and crying as she entertained us with anecdotes of the joys and challenges of raising so many children in the modern world.

One of the challenges being the scathing remarks of other women such as, “You have seven kids and you’re going to have another. Are you crazy?” And now it is, “You have ten and you are going to have another!” But Anne is far from “crazy.” It was really most heartening and encouraging to see and hear this young woman so full of gratitude to God and her husband. I asked her if her husband was at the conference and she said, “No, he’s at home looking after the kids.”

I was very pleased to see Ted Byfield’s name on the list of speakers. I have often read his articles in Western Report which he founded. Ted is an Anglican and the title of his talk was “A plea from an Anglican to Roman Catholics – Don’t let us down.” It was a fascinating talk, interspersed with humour, which challenged us Catholics to stand up and be counted on such issues as the family and life. I sat at the same table with Ted and his wife for dinner and I enjoyed his scintillating conversation.

Certainly the most hopeful talk was given by Mrs. Batty Steel. Betty is very well known in pro-life and family circles as the authoress of at least two, outstanding books – The Feminist Takeover and Together Again.

“The tide is turning against feminism. The movement has gone far beyond its original aim: achieving equality for women. Instead, it has put up dividing walls between men and women, love and sex, mothers and children.”

In her book she argues that men and women are again drawing towards one another, seeking new understanding and reconciliation. She says that men and women today are admitting that they are looking for love and sex that spring from friendship, a slow growth of trust and an affinity of the spirit – which together can lead to a lifetime commitment. Meanwhile, mothers are realizing that motherhood-on-the-run is a shabby excuse for the real thing; that one hour or so a day of “quality time” with their children is not enough and is shortchanging the next generation.

Thanks to Sr. Lucille and Brad Hamilton for organizing such an inspiring conference.