2013 Annual Report – Military Ordinariate[print_link]
The Military Ordinariate base councils never cease to amaze me as they continue to impress me with their dedication, skills, spirituality and sisterhood. Bishop Donald Theriault (Military Ordinariate) stated it best in the new 2012 eligibility criteria. “The jurisdiction of the Military Ordinariate of Canada is personal rather than territorial.” This statement reflects the full picture of Military Ordinariate members.
The Internet continued to be an invaluable tool in distributing information to members, whether through e-mails, council activity reports or articles to the provincial newsletter, the Maryline. Members regularly used and promoted the national website, The Canadian League and Be League. Several councils maintained closed Facebook groups, where a request is needed to obtain access. These groups have been reported as great lines for communication and support.
Councils tried to incorporate more spirituality into their monthly meetings while also balancing business and social aspects. This has been accomplished by organizing mass, lay-led liturgy of the word before meetings, bible quiz games and special reflections.
Many charities were supported including Catholic Christian Outreach, Martha’s Table (feeds the poor and homeless), Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® (support of women suffering from domestic violence), CNIB, hospices, Coady International Institute, CCODP, Relay for Life, Canadian Cancer Society, MaterCare International, Birthright International and the Heart & Stroke Foundation, as well as various programs such as breakfast programs for schools. Members devoted themselves whenever the need arose.
Shrove Tuesday suppers were a regular event among councils. Good Friday was celebrated in all councils by offering a “poor man’s soup” and buns after mass, with the proceeds going to a wide range of charities. Mother’s Day was celebrated with the presentation of a single flower, usually a rose, to mothers in the parish. Remembrance Day was honoured by designated members who brought wreaths and lit candles at the cenotaph. It was the norm for councils to host receptions following the Necrology Mass of the Knights of Columbus.
Several councils either hosted or attended the World Day of Prayer in their area. Catch the Fire! sessions sparked interest as members attended workshops given by base councils or joined civilian council sessions. It has enriched their understanding of the League and has resulted in more members stepping forward to hold offices on their council.
Members were active in their parishes and communities teaching children’s liturgy, instructing in sacramental and religious education, celebrating liturgy of the word when there was no mass, volunteering as Eucharistic ministers or speakers, attending memorials, hosting receptions, bringing food to the sick and disabled and various other Christian activities.
The following are only highlights of the year as all councils have achieved A+ for their efforts:
One council’s members supported Sleeping Children Around the World by selling angel jewelry made by one member. Members were instrumental in the preparations for Bishop Theriault’s visit on Divine Mercy Sunday, including the certificates and frames for those receiving the sacraments and the hosting of a reception following his blessing of the Statue of Our Lady Star of the Sea that overlooks the ocean. During the summer, two baby quilts were sent to a national pro-life conference held on Prince Edward Island to raise money for MaterCare International.
One council was heavily involved with a Pregnancy Resource Centre and an annual baby bottle fundraising campaign. Members participated in an annual “adopt a grandparent” program with a local nursing home. In December, members each selected the name of a resident and bought a Christmas gift, which was presented to the resident during an event replete with Christmas carols and refreshments.
Another council’s members helped to build a living rosary prayer and meditation garden outside a chapel. Concrete and stained glass stepping stones were placed in the ground in the shape of a rosary. Benches were surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees for a peaceful prayer space. One of the council’s favorite activities was to play bingo with residents of a local retirement home; during specific seasons, the members dressed up and entertained the residents. The council continued to be best known for its unique thrift shop. Blessed to be cooperators with the Protestant Ladies Guild, the very lucrative thrift shop provided the council with finances to support charities, helped to fill the need for good quality merchandise at affordable prices and kept gently used items out of the landfill. Due to the success of the thrift shop, the council was able to provide a $500.00 bursary to a high school graduate pursuing secondary education. It also supported one youth’s mission to Australia with NET Ministries of Canada and another mission to Mexico.
In another council, a prayer shawl ministry was started; some members knit while others crocheted the shawls. The council engaged a speaker from a residence for members and families of the military and the RCMP who need a place to stay while undergoing medical treatment or rehabilitation. A box of stuffed animals was donated to the cause. Members continued cooperating with the Guild by donating baked goods and services for a memorial service held at the Protestant chapel. Members assisted the Guild with coffee breaks during a four day conference for chaplains. An annual pot luck and auction was held with the funds presented to YESS: Youth Empowerment & Support Services.
Finally, in yet another council, baby quilts were delivered for an auction to be held at a national pro-life convention, with the proceeds donated to MaterCare International. The council earned a bronze plaque for raising almost $2,000 for the Relay for Life. Another major event was a baby shower for an organization that provides a supportive environment for young mothers who can continue their education and gain the skills necessary to thrive as individuals and as parents. Members had fun while truckloads of gifts for moms and babies were donated.
The annual provincial convention was held in Greenwood. With this came many new policies and procedures to overcome, however, members’ dedication and stamina rose to the occasion as they delivered a well-organized and enjoyable event.
Annual celebrations continued with civilian and military League members attending a mass to remember all members, spiritual advisors and family members that died in the past year. Flowers were placed in a vase at the altar for each beloved deceased. A donation of $500.00 was made to the Military Family Resource Centre to help needy military families. The council hosted the reception for the chaplains’ annual lessons and carols service, a beautiful ecumenical event.
One council held its fourth annual 40-hour prayer vigil the weekend after Easter, with the focus on prayers for youth. Two members approached a high school pastoral team about a prayer partners ministry. Members designed lovely prayer intention cards for the students to fill out their prayer request; all correspondence from the students remained anonymous. Two hundred prayer petitions were read and prayed over during the vigil. The council hosted a children’s liturgy workshop with 12 participants, including two 13-year-old volunteers. An event called Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose by Mathew Kelly, founder of Dynamic Catholic ministries, was held in Ogdensburg, New York; seven members attended. In November, there was the Royal Military College Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) where members met 17 anxious and wonderful Aboriginal cadets from across the country. Members created a smorgasbord of homemade meals for the event. The ALOY group offered a drumming ceremony as a thank you gift for the council. The students were each presented with a $5.00 Tim Horton’s card. Members stood by the families of two deceased members, by delivering home cooked meals, visiting the sick members and bringing encouragement to all.
The provincial administrative team continued to support councils by reaching out and making itself available. It has forwarded all national communiques and sent provincial memos of encouragement and education. The team has educated councils on using the national website, provincial and national manuals, and the C&B as tools to enhance knowledge. In times of family illnesses, they have taken over a standing committee and performed the duties until the chairperson was able to take over again.
As I prepare my president-elect to take over the responsibilities of this office in 2014, I will carry on my journey as past president and continue to uphold the dignity of this office. I personally have seen the Lord in so many facets of my term―the warmth, love and true Christian values of the provincial council. I use the word “unique” as there is no other word that explains the military existence and the support given as Catholics, especially when a spouse, dad, mother, sister or friend does not come home for dinner at the end of the day because they were taken away way too soon.
It is a special gift that God has bestowed on the military councils to strengthen love and respect “For God and Canada.” It is my utmost honour to serve as a Christian, Catholic and provincial president with the greatest organization on earth. At the beginning of my term, I had set my own individual mandate and I hope and pray I have accomplished those tasks.