Author Archive


On January 23, Brian K. Vidal, President of the ESCC, announced the appointment of Maria G. Centoni as the new Executive Director of the English Speaking Catholic Council. She succeeds Anna Farrow, who unwaveringly dedicated ten years to the rootedness and resilience of the Council. Maria comes to this position intent on honouring and building on the Council’s openness, inclusivity, agility, and rigor. Read the official announcement here.

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Social Isolation & the Lessons of Lockdown

Prior to March 2020, many Canadians were reporting feelings of disconnectedness and loneliness. Following eight months of social distancing measures, unprecedented numbers of Canadians are now experiencing both physical and social isolation from their colleagues, family, and communities. Join us on Thursday, December 3rd as Milton Friesen guides us through the data and explores the possibilities for a way forward. This Zoom event will include a panel discussion involving Vanessa Herrick of Seniors Action Quebec, Talitha Lemoine of Catholic Campus Outreach and Cathie Macaulay of Pastoral Home Care, Archdiocese of Montreal.

Milton Friesen is the General Manager of CitiIQ, an organization which measures the health and well-being of cities. He has served a three-year term as an elected municipal councillor and has spent more than 12 years working in public policy and research projects related to city planning.

This event will take place via Zoom.  Please click here to register.

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Former Executive Director of ESCC named as recipient of Goldbloom Award

The ESCC is delighted that Martin Murphy has been named one of the recipients of the 2019 Sheila & Victor Goldbloom Community Service Awards, an award presented to English-speaking Quebecers who have made a significant contribution to the community. A man of multiple talents and of wide, professional experience, Martin Murphy has been consistent in his willingness and aptitude to be of service to the community. 

After a number of years with CN, Martin shifted to life as an educator and administrator.  As such he served at different times as President of the Provincial Association of Catholic Teachers and of the Association of Directors of English Schools, as well as being a Director of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. He retired in 1994 as Director of Curriculum Services for the Baldwin-Cartier School Board.

After retirement from the education sector, Martin undertook another career. In 1995, after two years as President, Martin was appointed as Executive Director of the English-Speaking Catholic Council and remained in that position until 2012.  During this same period, Martin played a key role in the establishment of two very important community organizations which, in different ways, serve the English-speaking community of Quebec. Between 2000 -2003 Martin was Chairman of the Community Health and Social Services Network and for 5 years, 2002-2007, the President of the Quebec Community Groups Network.

During his tenure as Executive Director of the ESCC, twenty briefs were presented to federal and provincial governments at public consultation hearings.  The subject of these briefs ranged from health & social services to education, from reasonable accommodation to seniors’ living conditions.  Any matter which touched upon the welfare of the English-speaking community in Quebec was a matter to which Martin and the Council would turn their consideration.  Well known for both his attention to detail and his memory for personalities and events, Martin proved time and again to be an invaluable resource and organizer for the community.

Generous with his time and committed, in both word and deed, to the principle of a vital minority-language community, Martin has been the example of disciplined and thoughtful leadership for the English-speaking community of Quebec and is a worthy recipient of the Goldbloom Award.

The other recipients of the 2019 Community Service Awards are Senator Joan Fraser and humorist Josh Freed. Joshua Arless, school commissioner of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, has been chosen for the fifth annual Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award.

Watch the video highlighting Martin!

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ESCC issues statement on Bill 21

On May 13, the ESCC participated in a “People’s Hearing” on the topic of Bill 21 (An Act Respecting the laicity of the State).  Coalition Inclusion, a group that came together in the early spring to oppose the proposed legislation, organized the event in order to give organizations an opportunity to express their opinion of the bill.  Coalition Inclusion was one of the few groups representing the views of people of faith which were included in the six days of hearings held at the National Assembly.  The government wrapped up its hearings last week with many groups and individuals feeling that the hearings have not adequately represented the voices of concern regarding Bill 21.  As they went to testify at the hearings on May 16, the team from Coalition Inclusion were able to bring with them the statements and briefs of those who participated in the “People’s Hearings.” The Council submitted it’s statement at the May 13th alternative hearings and Anna Farrow, Executive Director of the ESCC, spoke before the panel of four: dean of McGill faculty of law Robert Leckey, Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, Québec solidaire MNA Vincent Marisal and lawyer Perri Ravon.  Read more about the alternative hearings in the Montreal Gazette.  

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English-speaking Parishes & Newcomers

Do parishioners who are new in Quebec look to their parishes for support as they adjust to life in Quebec? How can parishes better assist their parishioners as they make a new home in Quebec? 

This is a short, anonymous survey that takes only about 4 minutes to complete and you do not need to be a newcomer to take the survey.  All responses will give both parishes and the ESCC a better understanding of the profile of the parishes and how we can help our communities be vital places of welcome.

Click the photo to be taken to the survey.

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Catholic Community Rally 2018

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Faith & Immigration – Public Lecture

What role do our faith communities play in the integration of new Canadians? What is the attitude of new Canadians to the role of faith in the public square?  In a province which has seen discussions of accommodation and religious symbols dominate the airwaves and political debate these questions seem more pertinent than ever. Join us on October 25th when Ray Pennings, Executive Vice-President and Co-Founder of Cardus, a non-partisan, faith-based Canadian think tank, will speak to the issues of immigration, religious diversity, and public policy at a free, public lecture sponsored by the ESCC.  Mr. Pennings will be drawing on data compiled from a public opinion survey which was implemented by Angus Reid & Cardus.   You can read more about this survey on the Angus Reid website. Mr. Pennings will speak on Thursday, October 25 from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at St. Kevin’s Parish (5600 Côte-des-Neiges Road, Montreal H3T 1Z1).
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Secretariat for Relations with English Speaking Quebecers

Who is Bill Floch?

Well known to the English-speaking community, Bill Floch arrives in his new role as leader of the Secretariat for Relations with English Speaking Quebecers possessing a wealth of experience and knowledge.  Bill began his career in the education field, was for two years the Executive Director of the Townshippers’ Association, and for the last couple of decades has been engaged in various capacities at the Department of Canadian Heritage, primarily as a Policy Researcher and Manager.  His work in policy research has given him both a deep and wide knowledge of the English-speaking community of Quebec and he is particularly well-suited to his new portfolio.  At the press conference at which his appointment was announced, he was quoted as saying, “I’m very optimistic. There are really positive signs of openings and of support for this concept.  It will be a matter figuring out across the sectors and ministries where we can help the most and align with community needs and priorities.”  The ESCC is very pleased to be able to welcome Bill to its 37th AGM and we encourage the community to attend on June 13th at Loyola High School to learn more of the new Secretariat.

Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers

At the tail end of 2017, the Quebec government announced the establishment of a new Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers and that Bill Floch would be heading up the Secretariat.     The announcement, following fast upon that of MNA Kathleen Weil being made Minister for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, was the culmination of a number of years of collaborative work by the Quebec Community Groups Network advocating for just such a governmental instrument for effective representation of the minority language community within the provincial government.  By establishing this Secretariat, the Couillard government is in some ways emulating Ontario`s Ministry of Francophone Affairs which has a staff of 20 and a budget of $5.3 million.  As described by the Secretariat, its goals are as follows:

  1. Ensure liaisons with sectoral, regional and provincial groups that represent English‑speaking Quebecers.
  2. Ensure that the concerns of English-speaking Quebecers are taken into consideration in the development of government policy direction and decisions, and in matters of access to government programmes and their application in conjunction with the concerned ministries and agencies.
  3. Make available relevant statistics to document issues facing English-speaking Quebecers.
  4. Interact with the federal government on issues, agreements, programs or policies that may have a direct or indirect impact on English-speaking Quebecers in collaboration with the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations canadiennes and other ministries and bodies concerned.
  5. Advise the government, ministries and bodies on relations with English-speaking Quebecers regarding the provision of services and issues, agreements, programs and policies that may have a direct or indirect impact on the community.



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Canada Summer Jobs Program – Survey

Has your parish or organization been affected by the newly required attestation for application to the Summer Jobs Program?  If so, the Archdiocese of Montreal wants to know!

In an effort to gain information about the effect of this requirement upon the organizations and parishes within the Archdiocese of Montreal, our colleagues have produced a short survey. The information gathered from this survey will help the Archdiocese as it communicates about this issue with the CCCB, government representatives and the press and also as it decides on its next steps in response to this issue. If your parish or organization has received funding from the CSJ program or if your group has considered applying but has opted not to apply because of the attestation requirement, please take a few minutes to complete the following survey:

Thank you!



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The Changing Face of the Church in Canada

The pews in the churches of Montreal are going to be increasingly populated by newcomers to Canada. That was one of the conclusions of Reginald Bibby’s fascinating lecture given last November at Loyola High School.  In a lively and engaging style Bibby, the most well-known sociologist of religion in Canada, began by giving a short synopsis of the history of Catholics in Canada and then proceeded to paint a picture of the future.  That future has everything to do with immigration.  Why is this?  One part of the answer has to do with how Canada is growing.  In 2016, population growth in Canada was 30% natural increase and 70% immigration.  By 2036, 100% of population growth will be down to immigration. The second part of the equation has to do with a difference in religious commitment between those born in Canada and those born outside of Canada.  On average, immigrants tend to be more religiously committed than the population that was born in Canada. 

Basing his lecture off his most recent books, Canada’s Catholics (2016) and Resilient Gods (2017), Bibby noted that historically Catholics have had an ability to create communities for immigrant populations.  “The dominant policy seems to have been to allow Catholics to establish new parishes where they could initially live out life in the language and culture of their homeland.  Churches thereby retained Catholics in the course of providing them with communities that offered immigrants social, emotional and spiritual support in their new country.” –p.122, Canada’s Catholics.

The Catholic Church in Canada has, on the whole, done a great job in creating healthy and nurturing environments for newcomers to adapt and integrate to their new homeland.  Looking forward, churches will need to keep a number of questions in mind.  Here are five questions which Bibby suggests leaders need to ask:

  1. How can the Church help newcomers adjust to Canada?
  2. How can parishes provide welcoming environments?
  3. To what extent will new parishes be created?
  4. What can be done to ensure that the high levels of commitment and involvement that are characteristic of many immigrants continue?
  5. What can be done by way of superb family ministry to ensure that enthusiasm for the faith continues to characterize the second generation of newcomers?

Important questions, for sure!

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English Speaking Catholic Council
1857 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal
H3H 1J9

Tel: (514) 937-2301, ext. 252 or 256