2014 Annual Report – New Brunswick
New Brunswick Provincial Council President
2014 Annual Report
New Brunswick Provincial Council represents a small but mighty 47 parish councils with membership of just over 2,200 members. Membership declined and statistics reflect that the biggest issue was the loss of members due to non-renewals. Facing this reality was a major focus. A letter was sent to the four local bishops with the hope of meetings and/or discussions on ways to increase and develop the participation and support of the clergy in parish councils. A prayer card was being developed that would deliver information to parishes with and without parish councils.
The province was plagued with the migration of young and not so young people moving “out west” for much needed employment. Often one parent had to travel back and forth between work in Alberta and home in New Brunswick. This migration affects families and their lifestyle and is a major concern as members watch their children and grandchildren, friends and neighbours, suffer as a result of this difficult lifestyle. Members were asked to help these single parents and their families and to make this a priority in their councils.
Members witnessed to the theme We Have Seen the Lord! as they continued in their service “For God and Canada.” Reports received from the provincial executive reflected the work of members. The provincial chairperson of organization expressed excitement about workshops planned for fall 2015. Awards and service pins were presented to members to show their appreciation. This played a huge role in maintaining membership. The provincial life member liaison kept members informed and provided support. There were 25 life members, which included new life members Hazel Robichaud and Marie Rackley. Sadly, two life members were lost, Anna Downing and Rejeanne Beaulieu.
The provincial chairperson of spiritual development wrote that some councils began meetings by reciting the League Prayer and other councils recited the rosary before their meetings. Installation of new members took place for some councils on the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Members gathered at funeral homes for prayers for deceased members, offered masses and formed honour guards. Special devotional prayers were said at meetings for the sick and shut-ins. Members assisted in preparing retreats. A prayer line was established where an entire parish was notified in the church bulletin to request prayers. Members attended workshops, conventions and forums on faith development and participated in bible studies such as The Bible Timeline and Rediscover Catholicism. Members were involved as catechism teachers, Rites of Christian Initiation program coordinators and family faith development coordinators. Some members were on the Femmes en Église committee attending workshops and conventions.
The provincial chairperson of resolutions reminded members that a provincial resolution on the topic of women living in poverty was submitted to the national resolutions committee but was returned as the topic fell under provincial jurisdiction. Despite this decision, women living in poverty continued to be a deep concern and councils wrote letters to their provincially elected politicians. The resolution and other information was sent to the premier and ministers with a request for an appointment to discuss the issue of poverty. The premier responded that he was unable to meet at that time.
The provincial chairperson of legislation noted she was dismayed to find that the new government, in a vote of 84-20, had removed the regulation requiring two doctors to certify that an abortion was medically necessary. A follow-up letter-writing campaign was planned.
The provincial chairperson of community life noted in her report that she saw the Lord working in members as they ran for the cure in support of breast cancer; canvassed for the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation; taught people with disabilities how to cook and provide for themselves in order to become more self-efficient; helped mentally challenged people who received no government funding; said daily prayers and sent letters to federally and provincially elected politicians on the topics of human trafficking, pornography and euthanasia; attended right to life events held in their community; and supported Birthright International.
The provincial chairperson of Christian family life noted members’ concerns about families as they continued to believe that marriage and family was a very important segment of society. They joined together for a common cause to keep Sunday as God’s spoken day of rest. Cards were sent to newly married couples, and gifts were given for baptized babies and children making their first communion and confirmation. In addition, members supported both marriage and families by donating their time to the New Brunswick Right to Life Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, nursing homes, hospital auxiliaries and Girl Guides of Canada.
The provincial chairperson of education and health wrote that parish councils studied legislation and reports on current health and education issues such as euthanasia, abortion, sex selection, suicide prevention, bullying, mental health issues and managing stress. They invited speakers on health-related issues, studied the position of the church on health-related issues, and used resolutions to inform members on current health issues. One member wrote and launched her first book, titled Living autism day•by•day.
Diocesan presidents reported using a different format for fall meetings, voicing concerns about membership, experiencing the feeling of family in community and praying for the League so that it could continue to thrive and advocate for social justice. Each president worked as best she could to sustain and maintain the important role of women.
Finally, the provincial council had the honour to host members from across Canada at the 95th annual national convention in Fredericton. Feedback was very positive and members were happy to be part of this event. The details and planning resulted in successful and spiritual meetings, liturgies and events.
The provincial council was delighted to be represented at the national level. Life Member Anne Marie Gorman was elected as first vice president and appointed as chairperson of spiritual development. Life Member Marie Rackley accepted appointment as a sub-committee chairperson for spiritual development in the role of women in the church and lay ministries.
I pray that Our Lady of Good Counsel continues to watch over and guide the work “For God and Canada,” and that Our Lady guides the provincial council in ways to rejuvenate the League.