2013 Annual Report – National President

June 12, 2014

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It is obvious that members have truly embraced the national theme We Have Seen the Lord! in their prayer, programs and outreach. Banners, days of reflection and paintings provided interpretations of the message from local perspectives.

The national convention in Regina was a resounding success for the 784 registered participants. Invited speakers included missionary Sr. Fay Trombley, Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, artist Louise Tessier, liturgist Fr. Bill Burke, author Kathryn Perry, cancer survivor Anne Chase and World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO) representative Maribeth Stewart. The highlight seemed to be the panel of four honorary life members sharing their stories about how they had seen the Lord!

A letter was sent right after the convention to every member of parliament (MP) stating the League’s strong objection to sex selective abortion especially aimed at the elimination of female children. Two resolutions were adopted:
• Resolution 2013.01 Building Relationships and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples
• Resolution 2013.02 Employment Insurance Benefits for Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers

Archbishop Martin Currie (St. John’s) was thanked for his five years of faith-filled service as national spiritual advisor. Auxiliary Bishop William McGrattan (Toronto) was installed into his term as national spiritual advisor.

Catch the Fire! sessions created excitement across Canada thanks to the efforts of dynamic facilitators. Non-members were welcome to participate and very often they joined at the end of the day!

Thanks to the expertise of National Past President Velma Harasen’s ad hoc committee, a new Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) was adopted to put all bylaws in compliance with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. Work was then begun on an updated National Manual of Policy and Procedure (P&P) so it would align with the new C&B.

A distinct honour and highlight of my year was accompanying the official Canadian party to Rome to attend the installation of Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome. The official party was led by Governor General of Canada David Johnston. I also attended:
• The annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in Mont Gabriel, Quebec.
• The convention of the National Council of Catholic Women followed by the WUCWO North American regional meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accompanied by National President-Elect Barbara Dowding, Velma Harasen and National First Vice-President Mary Nordick
• Significant parish and diocesan anniversaries, as well as conventions in every province in Canada.

The League delegation met with federal government officials twice. In March, resolutions adopted in 2012 were discussed. In November, resolutions adopted in 2013, and the letter objecting to sex selective abortion, were discussed.

Members’ letters made a difference to politicians. The Pornography Hurts postcard campaign to all MPs was devised as a “mail-in plan” spread throughout the whole year. Members continued their anti-trafficking education, support and vigilance by means of letters, discussion and conference participation. The standing committee annual reports note League representations to various conferences on a wide spectrum of issues and concerns.

Positive steps were achieved in establishing the Catholic Women’s League Leadership Foundation, which will come to fruition with time and negotiations. Members visited the sites of Velma’s Dream projects in the Holy Land and were received like heroes! The financial and moral support provided is direly needed for the Christian community there. And so, Velma’s Dream was approved as a temporary National Voluntary Fund for the next three years, time which will be used to build education and awareness of the plight facing Christians in the Holy Land.

In gratitude to Archbishop Currie’s service as national spiritual advisor for the past five years, members heartily supported Marty’s Dream, a project for the construction of a residence for at-risk girls in Ghana. Members also sent assistance to the sites of two Canadian tragedies―the train derailment in Lac Megantic, Quebec and the June floods in the Calgary area. In December, the term expired for the temporary National Voluntary Fund in favour of MaterCare International.

In order to guide councils in efforts to befriend their Aboriginal neighbours, the national executive held two in-depth sessions to discern a path for action. Sr. Eva Solomon guided one session by sharing her stories, songs, prayers, history and reading lists. This helped greatly to deepen understanding of Canada’s indigenous peoples. Since then, several provincial and diocesan councils invited First Nations speakers to share their insights and to help members build bridges of friendship. Several councils in the North reported already living Resolution 2013.01, counting among their membership, women belonging to local First Nations bands.

Executives at all levels reported trying their best to be the presence of Jesus in the world. Members who have passed away were not forgotten; their memory was celebrated with gratitude and joy.

Writing has been a great joy for me, including two articles to WUCWO’s Women’s Voice (“Ecclesial Community: a place to grow our faith” and “The Church in the world as leaven in the dough”), monthly columns in Be League, three messages in The Canadian League magazine, reports, talks and workshops for councils. Pope Francis’ clear teachings on encounter, witness and service really set fire in my heart, soul and mind. How could I keep from singing?

These past two years serving as national president have been an unforgettable privilege. I have truly seen the Lord in so many unexpected places and in so many enthusiastic, prayerful, hopeful, joyful members. 