2013 Annual Report – Newfoundland and Labrador[print_link]
I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all table officers who contributed to the accomplishments of Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Council over the past year and were supportive of me as newly elected president. Thank you also to parish council presidents who took time and care in writing their annual reports. This allows me to incorporate the lived actions of parish councils into the provincial annual report. As I read council reports, it became quite obvious how important the League is to the church in this province. League work is not only rooted in gospel values, but members talked and lived like Jesus as Pope Francis advocates. Hence, there is a great need to pray and focus energies so every parish has a vibrant, flourishing parish council. The church in Newfoundland and Labrador needs the League.
Parish councils had as a high priority the League object “to achieve individual and collective spiritual development” as witnessed by the many prayer services and reflections on the national theme, We Have Seen The Lord!, and the provincial focus on The New Evangelization. Besides formal prayer services and guest speakers on the themes, councils lead their parishes in praying the rosary during October and May, Stations of the Cross during Lent, special Advent celebrations, memorial services for the deceased, days of awareness and reflection, services to honour Our Lady of Good Counsel and prayers for peace in Syria. Study groups were formed to discuss aspects of Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) and selected quotes from Pope Francis’ homilies. Workshops were hosted on the Nicene Creed, the Beatitudes and “Life in the Spirit.” Councils increasingly invited and welcomed parishioners and the community at large to participate in these events.
Members provided active presence in their communities by living out the League’s mission and objects. Members were very involved in activities promoting the sanctity of human life, recognizing that respect for sanctity of life extends to people of all ages, as witnessed by the concern for issues related to abortion, children who are abused and not cared for, euthanasia and medically assisted dying. Members wrote letters to government, attended pro-life demonstrations and walks, and supported pro-life groups financially and in kind. Councils hosted speakers on the topic of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide.
Parish councils gave due attention to the role of women in church and society. There were speakers and discussion groups arranged to reflect on women in the bible, present day women prophets and Pope Francis’ statements on the role of women in the church. Women were encouraged to join pastoral councils and liturgical committees where their voice could be heard, along with participating in liturgical ministries. Concern for women in society was shown by supporting women’s shelters, and writing letters to government about violence against women and the plight of indigenous women in the country. Councils also supported international groups concerned about women’s health and education such as MaterCare International Inc., Marty’s Dream and Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.
Respect for the dignity of all people everywhere was most evident in the support given by members to the elderly. Those no longer able to attend meetings were sent minutes and received home visits, along with cards and baskets of fruit and flowers for special occasions. Many members brought communion to the sick and elderly, especially those living in nursing homes, where often they also lead sing-a-longs or sponsored socials. Councils increasingly advocated for the elderly, showing concern for affordable housing and adequate home and long-term care, helping to prepare wills (including living wills), and focusing on raising awareness of health issues more likely to be experienced by seniors.
Members were very concerned about the need for clean water both at home and abroad. The provincial winter meeting included having a speaker discuss the spirituality of water. Letters were written to the provincial government supporting its moratorium on fracking as there is much evidence to indicate that fracking can cause pollution of water supplies. Parish councils celebrated Earth Day and planted trees to show their concern for the protection of all creation.
Parish councils were very supportive of organizations and groups that provide services to the poor and the vulnerable. These organizations were supported with donations of time and treasure, and members became advocates for those who may not have been able to advocate for themselves. Members asked, “Why do people at home and abroad need to live in poverty?” Monetary donations were made to CMIC, Coady International Institute and CCODP. As a result of Resolution 2013.01, parish councils reported on the many efforts to get to know and start a dialogue with indigenous people in their community. One parish council reported arranging for a speaker from the Metis community to better inform members of the goals of the new Nunavut government.
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Council flourished in many areas, for which members are grateful, however, the council was not without its challenges. Many parish councils are located in small and remote communities where populations are dwindling or residents are getting older, which directly affects membership. Communities are not close enough to consider amalgamation. New and innovative ways have to be considered as these councils are sorely needed in their parishes, many of them without a permanent parish priest. The decrease in membership has had a definite effect on the financial situation of the provincial council, but ways and means are being considered to remedy the situation. Catch the Fire! and S’Mores workshops are viewed positively and hopefully will increase membership, invite leadership and form parish councils where they don’t presently exist. Members have great trust that Our Lady of Good Counsel is looking after them.