2009 Annual Report – National President

February 04, 2014

National President
Danielle McNeil-Hessian
2009 Annual Report

The Catholic Women’s League of Canada has served the church and the country for 89 years. There are very few organizations that have enjoyed the longevity of the League. The League like our great country, Canada, survived the Great Depression, the Second World War, various severe weather conditions such as draughts in Saskatchewan, an ice storm in Quebec, Hurricane Juan in Nova Scotia and avalanches in British Columbia. In spite of the challenges faced by members, the sisterhood kept its members strong through personal, provincial and national tragedies. Members across the country also experienced challenges that led to great joy such as Newfoundland becoming the tenth province to join confederation and the church implementing the results of Vatican II. Across the country members celebrated differences yet spoke with one voice against issues such as the campaign to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide that was introduced into Parliament in 2005, a campaign that continued into 2009.

The question was often asked, what is the secret of success of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada? The answer, of course, was a simple one – the dedicated members at the parish level who were rooted in gospel values and who had accepted the call to holiness through service to the people of God. The national executive and the national office staff were dedicated and committed to serving the needs of members by creating resources and bringing to life the direction of parish councils.

History reflects that the League was created out of a need for social justice at a time when immigrants were flocking to Canada, mostly Christians from Europe . Members of the day provided compassion, food, shelter and friendship to the new Canadians. This work continued into 2009, not necessarily with immigrants, but also with others within the local and global communities. The activities of 2009 serve as a new part of the League’s story.

The annual reports contained in this convention booklet not only serve as a means of providing accountability to the members but also as a celebration of the activities of members across the country.

The reports of the standing committee chairpersons and the provincial presidents chronicle many of the activities that go on in councils large and small across this great land of ours.

You will see the evidence that demonstrates the good works done by members “For God and Canada ” – awards, anniversaries, years of service and celebrations of the sisterhood that enabled members to establish lifelong friendships.

Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year for Priests which began with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The Year for Priests was celebrated throughout the country in many different ways by councils including a calendar to pray daily for a certain priest, masses, dinners, luncheons, special services and celebrations. The League acknowledged the valuable contributions of spiritual advisors and letters of appreciation were sent to them.

In August 2008, members of the national executive were charged with working together to provide prayers and workshops that could be used by all parish councils. The impetus for the project was the theme Women of Peace and Hope. Plans were made to compile the results of their labour in a book made especially for the members, to be distributed at the 2010 annual national convention in Ottawa.

Members continued to contribute to the national voluntary funds and this year, I am proud to say, national executive members were able to travel with teams from the Coady International Institute and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace as a means of reporting some of the life moments of people in the developing world. They planned to continue to share their journey through The Canadian League and at the 2010 annual national convention.

Our sisters in the provincial council of the Military Ordinariate continued to remind all members to pray for those Canadians who serve in Afghanistan and other foreign lands. The custom of wearing red on Friday was a visible support for Canadian troops risking their lives to offer hope and stability to the people of Afghanistan.

The theme, Women of Peace and Hope, proved to be a source of inspiration for guest speakers and workshop presentations. Members raised their own awareness and that of others within their community, in particular, regarding palliative and hospice care. The activities undertaken by councils led to much support for palliative care financially and through increased volunteer work.

The League fell short of the goal to increase membership by 10% over two years. Councils did however attract new members and new councils were established, both reasons to celebrate. Councils at the parish, diocesan, provincial and national levels continued to examine ways to encourage members to take on leadership roles. Supporting and encouraging potential leaders would continue to be among the priorities of the national executive.

On the Thanksgiving weekend I was honored to visit the diocesan council in Whitehorse. Though small in numbers, the women demonstrated a very strong sense of sisterhood of sharing and caring for each other and the people of God. I was privileged to stay with the diocesan president and to visit the home of an artist who shared her work with us. It was a beautiful painting that she was providing for a pro-life campaign to encourage expectant mothers to choose life. This work of art moved me to tears and will be a great motivator in the campaign to choose life.

In December I accompanied the delegation to Parliament Hill where it met with a record five cabinet ministers regarding resolutions. The reception the delegation received speaks to the high esteem members of government have for the League.

The church in Canada continued to experience overwhelming challenges. Members stayed the course committed to the motto “For God and Canada ”. Once again, I am confident that with God’s help and the commitment of the members of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada in 2010, it will endure long into the future.