Parish priest and youth go on the front foot with euthanasia talks

Our society believes in myths about euthanasia. St Felix de Valois Parish in Bankstown is offering a counter-cultural and fact-based series of talks on this issue of fundamental importance to who we are as a state and as a people

Reading Time: 3 minutes
A woman holds up a sign during a rally against assisted suicide in 2016 in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: CNS, Art Babych

With Independent MP Alex Greenwich declaring that he will introduce a euthanasia and assisted suicide bill into NSW parliament later this year, St Felix at Bankstown are holding a series of talks about the moral aspects of end of life care.

Most Australians have no idea palliative care makes euthanasia redundant and most have no idea that palliative care is massively underfunded by health authorities. Most assume that if they face terminal illness they will receive palliative care when in fact there is a significant risk they will miss out on it.

Assistant priest Father Ronnie Maree, and the parish youth, decided to be proactive and hold information sessions before a bill came out, rather than trying to run an education series while a political battle was happening.

Titled Euthanasia, Dying and Dignity of the Human Person,  the talks delve into the theological, medical and political perspectives of euthanasia.

A woman sits at the bedside of her mother in 2016 in a hospice serving terminally ill individuals. Photo: CNS, Lisa Johnston, St Louis Review

Experts and leading Catholic Weekly columnist to talk

Two remaining talks are being held over the next two weeks at the parish.

The first next Thursday night, will delve into the medical aspect of euthanasia featuring a panel of palliative care doctors, nurses, carers and specialists who will discuss the ministry of palliative care, bedside care of the dying as well as decisions faced by patients and their families at the end of life.

The final talk on Thursday, 13 May, to be given by popular Catholic Weekly columnist Monica Doumit will look at the political and legal aspects of dying with dignity.

A German photo illustration shows tools used in euthanasia. Photo: CNS, Norbert Fellechner, www.imago via Reuters

Vital issue, numerous dimensions

She will discuss how euthanasia has already changed cultures and societies as well as fighting in the public square and having conversations at home, a “not to be missed opportunity”.

“These talks are a wonderful initiative, and I am grateful to Father Ronnie and St Felix Youth for organising them,” she said.

“There is so much depth to the issue of euthanasia: our approach to suffering and death, the great work of doctors and nurses who work in end-of-life and palliative care, and the risk to the vulnerable that is evident in places that have enacted these lethal laws.

Nurses provide care to a patient in the palliative care section of a hospital. The issue is looming in the NSW Parliament with Independent MP Alex Greenwich declaring that he will introduce a euthanasia and assisted suicide bill into NSW parliament later this year. Photo: CNS, Philippe Wojazer, Reuters

Be there to be informed

“The three-week series will give attendees a multi-disciplinary look at the complexities around euthanasia, and help them to understand and articulate the beauty of the Church’s position that every life is valuable.

“The talks will also provide key information about how people can get involved in the upcoming euthanasia debate in NSW, so they’re not to be missed.”

The talks are being held in the St Felix Hall and start at 7.30pm. For more details contact the parish.

Also contributing to this story were Catholic Weekly staff writers.

Related