Greetings everyone. I hope that this message finds you well, enjoying all the signs of spring and patiently waiting for church life come back to gathering together. As you know we continue to follow BC Ministry of Health and diocesan guidelines before proceeding. As always, we will keep you posted. Even as many of us receive vaccines I urge you to continue to be careful and thoughtful. We love our neighbors as God teaches us by thinking beyond ourselves and always considering others.      I am aware that with this epidemic on our minds it is sometimes challenging to find the emotional and spiritual energy to remember other issues that are ongoing in our lives. I am also convinced that it is part of our Christian journey to pray for that perseverance.      This month marks the 5th Anniversary of the Public Health Emergency in B.C. In the five years since this declaration was made, we have lost over 7,000 British Columbians to an overdose/toxic drug poisoning. 2020 saw a 75% jump in annual drug related death rates.      Substance abuse is a family disease that impacts all. There is group called “Moms Stop the Harm”. This is network of Canadian families impacted by substance use related harms and deaths. We advocate to change failed drug polices and provide peer support to grieving families and those with loved ones who use or have used substances. There are three co-founders, Lorna Thomas and Petra Schultz from Edmonton, Alberta, and Leslie McBain from Pender Island. The network has grown exponentially. We now focus in supporting grieving families and those with family members still struggling. You may have recently heard Leslie McBain interviewed on a W5 television  episode on the Opioid crisis. She shares her story of having lost her son Jordan.    I have become part of this group as I have a family member , our son Joe, who some of you have met and who is in the midst of a life and death struggle with substance abuse disorder. He has been on the streets of Vancouver since leaving our home just over one year ago. We pray daily for miracles, have done everything imaginable to help him. He has tried recovery in several different ways and has had occasional good stretches but not long term.  I have his permission to share his story. Please hold him in your prayers and thoughts. Mom’s Stop the Harm has strong Social Media presence which you can access:  https://www.momsstoptheharm.com/ https://www.facebook.com/MomsStopTheHarm/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGv_jFhHnJQ ( Leslie McBain three minute video) https://www.umbrellasociety.ca/ The Umbrella Society is another extremely helpful organization.      I will be with the BC Chief Coroner of the Province, Lisa Lapointe, and the Provincial Health officer Dr. Bonny Henry on Wednesday, April 15 as the March numbers are announced.  I will be sharing some of our personal story and speaking as a parish priest and as a dad to demonstrate that a huge cross section of our society that is impacted. I also will appeal to churches and to people in all walks of life to destigmatize people and families with substance abuse issues and to continue to bring this conversation into the mainstream. I will send the details of when and where the coverage will be aired but it should be Wednesday at 10AM.       Our wardens and Parish Leadership were very supportive when I shared with them that my story was going to become more public. Our bishop Anna is also supportive and is familiar with Mom’s Stop the Harm. She asked me to write about this for the Diocesan Post in the future as well.      I hope that if any of you need or ask for any support around issues of substance abuse in your own families that God may be able to use my story in supporting you. Please reach out anytime.     I thank each and everyone of you for your support, prayers, and thoughts. Marian and I are doing fine and are so grateful to be part of a caring and supportive parish. We continue to look for creative ways for the church to reach out into the world beyond the walls of our buildings and organizations. God Bless, Lon+  


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