2014 Annual Report – Spiritual Development

September 02, 2015

Anne-Marie Gorman
National 1st Vice-President and Chairperson of Spiritual Development
2014 Annual Report

Sub-committee Chairpersons: Judy Look, Theresa McGuire and Marie Rackley

Spiritual growth of members
Councils throughout Canada understood the League’s main focus on spirituality and used or developed reflections and intercessions with the theme, We Have Seen the Lord! constantly in mind. Many provincial councils noted using one third of their time for spirituality at meetings with mass, League prayer, intercessions, the rosary, seasonally-appropriate prayers, music, scripture reflections, prayer services, audio-visual media and visual displays to complement spiritual themes. They also organized and participated in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, stations of the cross, novenas, candlelight vigils for living and deceased members, focused prayer, litanies, retreats and pilgrimages, both local and abroad. The Rosary for Peace initiative was embraced in all provinces. Also, guest speakers added a special element to spirituality. One topic presented was Jesus’ statement, “Who do you say that I am?”

Prayer partnering continued to be a way to keep women connected. Whether individually or communally, prayer focused members’ minds and hearts on why Jesus lived and died for them and what members’ individual roles are in their own spiritual growth. (See “Resources” at conclusion of report.)

Study of Catholic teachings
Members took part in adult faith formation, bible study, seminars and university courses. They followed Pope Francis online, subscribed to Catholic media and studied lives of the saints, especially newly canonized ones. There was a thirst for knowledge of the Catholic faith that was heavily supported by the programs and books listed in the “Resource” section of this report.

Role of women in the church
Members were active in their parishes, taking on roles mainly in lay ministries, an essential part of parish life. However, some provincial councils reported that members were also active at the diocesan level on boards and on regional pastoral councils. Pope Francis has encouraged women to take on more responsibilities in the church both professionally and in the public sphere. One provincial council noted serving on national and regional interfaith dialogue committees. The importance of mentoring younger women in the church to take on leadership roles was duly noted.

Evangelization and mission assistance
When members were visible in their parishes and larger communities living the lives they are called to live by the life of Jesus, they became examples of evangelization, as evidenced by the extensive outreach activities listed in the community life standing committee report. Members bring people to God by example. “Keep Christ in Christmas” was an important visual evangelical tool. One provincial council supported a radio ministry.

Members noted donations to Catholic Missions In Canada. Two provincial councils studied the role of northern missions in Canada―one supported missions in the Archdiocese of Keewatin-The Pas and the other supported Esk-Omi Missions. Councils assisted St. Francis Xavier Mission by sending socks and mittens. Many other out-of-country mission assistance programs were supported and are reported under developing countries in the community life standing committee report.

Lay ministries
All ministries in the church were served by members―lectors, Eucharistic ministers, art and environment, sacristans, hospitality, ushers, catechists, collection/finance, music, prayer lines and pastoral councils, to name some. Women often also organized the people in these ministries for the smooth running of parishes.

Ecumenism and interfaith endeavours
Throughout Canada, members participated in World Day of Prayer, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and interfaith prayer breakfasts, prayer shawl ministries, pro-life activities and bible study. A diversity of activities was noted as one provincial council provided a church for the installation of an Anglican bishop, while in another, services were held to mark the 50th anniversary of Unitatis Redintegratio (the Decree on Ecumenism). One provincial council reported members’ study of other religions and celebrating with other Christian communities. (Programs are listed in the “Resource” section.)

Activity of provincial chairpersons
Provincial chairpersons of spiritual development prepared prayer services booklets for executive/administrative committee meetings, articles for provincial newsletters, and monthly newsletters containing prayers, liturgical dates, feast days, spiritual reflections and Catholic resources. They developed spiritual programs for conventions and a potential reporting system for the Book of Life. They reviewed spiritual development resolutions for potential archiving, provincial guidelines and the National Manual of Policy and Procedure. Provincial chairpersons were participants on provincial and national resolutions committees and read and learned more about the Catholic faith and how to assist at celebrations. They also surveyed members’ needs. Books of life for provincial conventions and archives were compiled, installation ceremonies for new executives at conventions were coordinated, and annual reports were completed. Provincial chairpersons kept uppermost in members’ minds and hearts that they were “rooted in gospel values” in the theme We Have Seen the Lord!

Some of the resources used by provincial councils
Provinces are noted where applicable, in parentheses, for contact information or inquiry.

CWL Prays
• Websites of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations and the Vatican
Shorter Christian Prayer (for Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the universal church)
• Bibles and the Catechism of the Catholic Church
• Spiritual advisors at parish, diocesan and provincial levels
Catholicdigest, Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart newsletter, Marian Helper magazine, St. Anthony Messenger magazine, Quid Novum weekly bulletin, Novalis’s Living with Christ, The Word Among Us magazine, CWL Day of Peace & Hope Activities Kit, and prayer book of regional pastoral council (Alberta Mackenzie)
• DVDs
• A guide for planting a “Mary’s Garden” with prayers (Alberta Mackenzie)
• A festival of life sponsored by a ministerial association (Alberta Mackenzie)
• “The face of Jesus in everyone” and a “prayer for children and grandchildren” (Alberta Mackenzie)
• A “weekend of grace for women” and “transformation” (Nova Scotia)
33 Days to Morning Glory do-it-yourself retreat (Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan)
• Little Rock Scripture Study
Lectio Divina
Forming Intentional Disciples: the Path to Knowing and Following Jesus book study (Nova Scotia)
• Lenten program based on The Word Among Us (Nova Scotia)
• Alpha Course
• Distance education courses from St. Francis Xavier University and Newman Theological College
• Lenten workshop on Jewish study in the word (Manitoba)
• An affirming and discerning workshop leading up to parish council elections (Manitoba)
Prayers and Workshops for Women of Peace and Hope
• Agape Street Ministry prayer ministry (B.C. & Yukon)
• Bible study programs such as The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation, Rediscovering Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose (New Brunswick, Manitoba) and Beatitudes (Alberta Mackenzie, Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario)
• Musical dramatization of the way of the cross (Newfoundland and Labrador)
• A role of women in the church presentation (Newfoundland and Labrador)
• The Summons and Nathanael faith formation programs (Manitoba)
• Crib and 35 Acts of Kindness programs in preparation for Christmas (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women on the Occasion of the Marian Year)
Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evanglization in the Modern World)
Christifideles Laici (Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World)
Evengelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)
Ceremonies Booklet
• “Prayer Box” for members to submit petitions (Ontario)
• “An Afternoon with Mary” (Nova Scotia) and “A Spiritual Gathering” study (Saskatchewan)
Life in the Spirit study and discussion (Ontario)
• Oramus (Ontario)
• Living rosary and Pope Francis’s Five-Finger Prayer (Manitoba)
ARISE faith sharing (Manitoba)
• Books on women in the scriptures (Quebec)
• Discovering faith in art (Ontario)
• Study of Catholicism (Alberta Mackenzie and B.C. & Yukon)
• Lending libraries (Nova Scotia and Ontario)
• Guest speakers with themes such as women at the well, women of the bible, secrets of the Eucharist, the beatitudes, a presentation on the Holy Spirit (Prince Edward Island)

Recommendations from provincial and national chairpersons
It was recommended that members learn more about their faith and about ecumenism (perhaps using some of the aforementioned resources), deceased members’ records be accurately kept and filed promptly, spiritual development days be promoted and held in all dioceses, chairpersons attempt to itemize financial numbers for reporting, parishes report numbers of participants for new initiatives undertaken, programs used are named and critiqued where appropriate, books reviewed/studied by members/councils/small groups, and all chairpersons of spiritual development read the information in the Executive Handbook to make reporting under the sub-headings simple for all levels.