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Continued From Home Page 07/01/18

After graduation, Jim did get married and gradually grew open to having a larger family. He and his wife, Maureen, became active at their parish in North Battleford, and Jim served as pro-life chairman for St. Joseph Council 7336.

They eventually had seven children and today have 17 grandchildren and counting. Last year, the McLane family was named the first runner-up for the Knights of Columbus International Family of the Year, and when Jim and Maureen recently celebrated their 40th anniversary on June 17, immense gratitude for his marriage and family was very much on Jim’s mind.

I first learned of the McLanes through their oldest child, Colleen Rouleau, who was my classmate at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C. Colleen and her husband, Louis, were newlyweds when I met them in late 2004. I have fond memories of getting to know them and, after their first daughter was born the following year, hearing about their joys and struggles as new parents. Today, Colleen and Louis live in Edmonton, Alberta, and their own family has grown considerably. Colleen is currently pregnant with their seventh child — Jim and Maureen’s 18th grandchild. Louis, who is trained as a theologian, is a member of Edmonton Council 1184 and has been working as a Knights of Columbus field agent for the past five years.

Not every couple is called or able to have seven children, but all who welcome children as “the supreme gift of marriage” serve as privileged witnesses and participants of God’s generous love (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 50; Humanae Vitae, 9-10). I recently had the chance to talk with the McLanes and the Rouleaus about their experience of parenthood, and what follows are some highlights from those conversations. — Alton J. Pelowski, Editor

MAUREEN MCLANE: In family life, so much can be said about the love and joy that you experience through sacrifice and suffering. I learned from my parents’ example that the sacrifices you make are nothing compared to the beauty and happiness that come from them.

I’m the second child in a family of 13 children, and my parents developed in us a love of Jesus and the Church. They instilled in us the necessity of never missing Mass on Sunday, and they never worked on Sundays, even though they were farming. They also taught us there’s no sex before marriage and that contraception was wrong, and we just accepted it.

JIM MCLANE: I’m the middle child of seven, and I also grew up knowing that going to Mass on Sundays was important and that sex before marriage was wrong. But I just thought that when we got married, we would probably use the pill and that a couple of kids would be a nice family.

When Maureen first told me about natural family planning, I was studying fertility cycles of animals in veterinary school, so it made sense to me. Once we got married and used NFP, I became more open to life. Then, when Colleen was born and I looked into her eyes, I was suddenly open to God’s will much more than before.

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In my Columbia columns for January and April earlier this year, I reflected on Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae and its enduring messages on marriage and the gift of life — messages further discussed throughout this issue. The following month, on May 25, Irish voters repealed the Eighth Amendment to that country’s constitution, which for decades had protected the lives of countless unborn children from abortion.

Providentially, Pope Francis had the courage to place the World Meeting of Families in Ireland next month. He has set the stage for the meeting with the recent publication of his apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad).

There is much to reflect upon in Gaudete et Exsultate. In one section, the pope writes: “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly…. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in (the) world” (101).

No organization knows this better than the Knights of Columbus. We have been “clear, firm and passionate” in our defense of the dignity of every human life.

Our Ultrasound Initiative alone, which has sought to protect the lives of both mother and child by providing more than 950 ultrasound machines to qualified pregnancy resource centers, has already saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

Pope Francis goes on to write in Gaudete et Exsultate, “We often hear it said that … the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian” (102).

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