A first-ever Hispanic family conference in Toronto is said to be heralding a greater awareness of, and participation in, family and life issues among Canada’s Hispanic community.

Jornada de la Familia (A Day of the Family), held at St. Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church in North York Nov. 23-25, attracted some 100 people to hear several presenters, including keynote speaker Father Miguel Fuentes of Argentina. Fuentes is with the Word Incarnate order of priests, which sponsored the conference.

“He talked about how to defend the family from the bombardment of attacks against it,” said conference spokesman John McCash. “He said the family is the centre of a strong economy, and the place where truth is learned. He said we have to defend the family.”

McCash added that the conference looked at family-related issues on a broad, worldwide basis, with special emphasis on particular trouble spots. It also told participants about how they can be witnesses and positive influences in their everyday lives.

The inter-denominational conference was marked by question-and-answer sessions between speakers and attendees, as well as worship and a common meal. The event was an outgrowth of bi-weekly catechism and formation sessions that are held at St. Augustine of Canterbury Church. Sometimes, those sessions touch on life and family issues. McCash, with his wife Dinorah, occasionally serves as a speaker.

“The family consists of a man, his wife and children. That is the only definition of family,” said McCash. “Attacks from homosexuality and abortion have weakened the moral fibre and affected the economy as well.”

He noted that much of the blame for Argentina’s current economic crisis stems from its relatively low population – an after-effect of North American-spawned birth and population control programs that took hold in government circles.

“Twenty years ago, Argentina had an economy as strong as that of Canada’s,” said McCash. “Now, it has something like 39 million people with a declining population. It is not doing too well economically. It needs about 100 million people to have a booming economy.”

He said while the bi-weekly catechism and formation sessions will continue at St. Augustine’s, it is hoped that there will be another Hispanic family conference later this year.