2012 Annual Report — Spiritual Development
National Chairperson of Spiritual Development
Reports submitted by all provincial councils attested that “Spiritual growth is the very heart of the League and the essence of its existence.” (Executive Handbook SD-27)
Spiritual growth of members
Councils’ meetings had a spiritual component; some strove to meet the one third guidelines of one third spiritual, business and social components. Some councils had mass or lay-led liturgy before the meeting. To encourage participation of members some councils had groups compose and lead prayer, while others used existing prayer resources; both were effective in engaging members actively and prayerfully. Some councils organized prayer at meetings around the liturgical year or focussed on feast days. Councils used resources such as the Ceremonies Booklet, CWL Prays, The Beatitudes, convention liturgy booklets and Prayers and Workshops for Women of Peace and Hope. The rosary remained a popular devotion especially in May and October, and took many forms: living rosary; rosary for peace, social justice or healing; garden rosary or rosary rally to honour the 95th anniversary the apparition at Fatima. Retreats, especially in Advent, were popular. The Way of the Cross was a popular devotion in Lent and many forms were used, e.g. Mary’s Way of the Cross and Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) Solidarity Way of the Cross. Many participated in Good Friday walks. Members went on pilgrimages to shrines such as St. Anne de Beaupré and Our Lady of Sorrows (Portland). Councils found ways to celebrate Canada’s newest saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, be it through prayers, talks, reports from those privileged to attend the canonization or diocesan celebrations. Other activities were May crowning of Mary, Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, lectio divina, Liturgy of the Hours, adoration and holy hours. Prayer partners were an important part of many councils. Of course, councils celebrated the feast of the League’s patroness, Our Lady of Good Counsel.
Some different ideas were the following. Ontario councils observed the Year of Faith by having all councils use the Nicene Creed at meetings. One council in British Columbia held a garden mass in August at a member’s home and garden. Some councils in Newfoundland and Labrador held a prayer service for missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. The northern Archdiocese of Keewatin-The Pas in Manitoba suggested taking prayer walks in the bush and communicating with God while berry picking, stirring pudding and taking long bus rides.
Study of Catholic teachings
Members studied the Catechism of the Catholic Church, papal documents (encyclicals, Caritas in Veritate, publications relating to the Year of Faith and the new evangelization), Vatican II documents and the new mass parts. Many took part in bible studies and attended workshops such as one on Catholic social teaching. Catholic websites and publications (e.g. Living with Christ, The Word Among Us, Together We Pray: A Prayer Book for Families, Catholic Digest) were sources for study. Other programs and resources mentioned were videos and books by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series, Alpha Course, Catholicism 201, ARISE Together in Christ, Word on Fire DVDs, Little Rock Scripture Study and Theology of the Body presentations. Members also participated in diocesan programs on lay formation and had talks by parish priests and local faith presenters. Members used material that emphasized women’s perspectives, e.g. Catholic Women’s Devotional Bible.
Role of women in the church
Mary as a role model was a popular topic. Women were encouraged to take leadership roles and many did so serving as parish and diocesan staff, on pastoral and diocesan councils, and on parish and diocesan committees often as chairpersons. Members were active participants in all aspects of parish life.
Evangelization and mission outreach
Members and councils supported Catholic Missions In Canada and Esk-Omi Missions through donations and prayers. Many supported diocesan Aboriginal ministries. Councils tried to raise awareness of mission needs through speakers, especially ones who were actively engaged in missions. Some members volunteered for mission outreach in their dioceses. Councils were involved in twinning of parishes with northern missions.
Members were active in every possible ministry in the church, often as leaders and educators as well as participants. They especially provided ministry to the bereaved at funerals through assisting in the liturgy, providing hospitality and, in the case of deceased members, forming an honour guard.
Ecumenism and interfaith endeavours
Members were active participants in World Day of Prayer and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity events, sometimes taking responsibility for organizing and hosting. Advent and Lent provided opportunities for interdenominational services and programs such as study groups, Stations of the Cross, Good Friday walks, and candlelight and carol services. In some communities, members of different churches united to fundraise and provide for community needs. Members participated in interfaith events such as the Holocaust remembrance services and Interfaith Café. Ecumenical bible studies were popular and many councils participated in the Fellowship of the Least Coin. A few members were part of ecumenical dialogues in their dioceses. One member served as the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops appointed representative on the Women’s Inter-Church Council,
Challenges and concerns
The following challenges and concerns were noted in the annual reports: getting people to commit and follow through on commitments; getting people to take leadership and to take ownership for spiritual programs rather than expecting to have “Father do it”; maintaining enthusiasm especially when a good spiritual program was planned and few came and problems with reporting names for the Book of Life. Many councils expressed appreciation for the Prayers and Workshops for Women of Peace and Hope and some asked whether another book could be developed for the current theme.
Three communiqués were issued in 2012 and seven articles were published in The Canadian League on matters relating to spiritual development. Liturgies were prepared for all executive meetings and the annual national convention including the preparation of prayers of the faithful for mass. The convention liturgies booklet was prepared and distributed and a binder of resource material gathered. Information and promotional materials were disseminated on Ignatian prayer, Stations of the Cross, World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations Day of Prayer Service, Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada World Day of Prayer, Catholic Biblical Association of Canada and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Additional information was forwarded to members as requested.