2015 Annual Report – B.C. & Yukon
B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council President
2015 Annual Report
I am pleased to report that the League was very healthy and active in B.C. & Yukon! Despite the inactivation of two parish councils and the disbanding of another, there were 130 parish councils and close to 9,000 members. Most councils were using the online membership system, and it seemed to be working quite well for them.
The 38 life members residing in the province suggest all parish councils keep a scrapbook of living and deceased life members, with copies sent to the provincial life member liaison so she could keep life members’ history up-to-date. Councils could use the expertise of their life members to put this book together. In 2015, the national president, two national officers and the provincial president sat on the national executive!
Membership was kept informed through communiqués from national, provincial and diocesan officers and by using the corresponding websites. Information was shared at meetings, by e-mail, and in newsletters and church bulletins. Councils reported an improvement in communication with their pastor/spiritual advisor and met with them regularly. They were included in annual planning, and were happy to attend meetings when they could and to provide opportunities to celebrate mass and direct retreats or days of recollection. The provincial newsletter, Communicator, was very popular and helped “spread the word”.
Councils focused on writing letters and sending out many, many postcards! One council sent out 250 euthanasia and assisted suicide postcards, ten at time, to have them arrive every weekday for 25 days. Members continued to respond to online polls and petitions. It was suggested that the pornography section of the communications standing committee was misplaced and should be handled under the community life standing committee. One sub-committee chairperson, Christa Grillmair, and her team handled this and did such an excellent job of preparing materials (brochure, DVD and PowerPoint) that the work was posted on the national website.
One prominent member of parliament recommended the use of petitions rather than postcards, as petitions could be tabled in the House of Commons whereas postcards would be filed. It was suggested the current guidelines for the Public Petitions section under the House of Commons Procedure and Practice be reviewed. If used concurrently, the postcards would get individuals’ attention, especially with the sheer volume received, while the petitions could be tabled for presentation.
The biggest challenge reported by councils was getting members to take on leadership roles and fill standing committee positions. The executive worked to keep struggling councils active and to motivate members to take on these positions. Executive members participated in almost every event that took place, demonstrating leadership in action, and talked to members on a one-to-one basis to build their confidence. Executive members were requested to give oral reports to sharpen their public speaking skills. Some councils reported that the one-third model of spirituality, business and social time was sometimes difficult, and instead decided to hold special spiritual days as often as possible.
The reports almost unanimously noted that members felt standing committee duties overlapped and should be revised, particularly in the area of education and health. Most of the work emanated from this committee, and it was too large. Despite hearing this repeatedly, the suggestion to change hasn’t gotten anywhere at the national level. Councils were encouraged to have co-chairpersons for this standing committee in the meantime. Many letters were written on education and health resolutions with increased interest in action on end-of-life issues.
S’Mores workshops were held. At conventions, every attempt was made to have speakers inform members on important issues and to motivate members to work for their causes. Councils were encouraged to determine what the needs and interests of their members were, then choose which social justice causes they wished to support, rather than trying to be active on every cause.
The provincial council was blessed to have funds available for League development workshops and for assistance for members to attend conventions, which are considered the two best ways to educate members. Three applications for workshops were approved in 2015. Subsidies were provided to 31 women to attend the 95th annual national convention in Vancouver and to 12 recipients to attend the provincial convention.
All councils used the national theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission and the provincial theme Joyfully Serving the Lord, and the work members did in their parishes and the decorations for conventions reflected it. My personal feeling is that there are too many themes (one at each level) and it should be simplified by using the national theme only, as many useful resources are available.
The provincial convention was held in Prince George and was well attended. National President Barbara Dowding presented a workshop, along with Sr. Irene Baker, CSJ, regarding the national theme. Members heard Dr. Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, speak on end-of-life issues. Donna Flood, executive director of the Prince George Hospice Society, spoke about “Going Forward with Palliative Care”, and Rev. Vincent James, OMI, spoke about the Rose Prince Pilgrimage.
The provincial council was well represented and enjoyed hosting the 95th annual national convention in Vancouver. As part of the planning committee, I was proud of the host team that did a magnificent job under the capable leadership of Vancouver Diocesan President Roxanne McDonald.
Two provincial resolutions were adopted at the national convention, Resolution 2015.01 Increased Early Intervention and Access to Children and Youth Mental Health Services and Resolution 2015.04 Invoke Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the case of Carter v. Canada. Members brought forward a motion to establish a temporary national voluntary fund in favour of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. A second motion asking the federal government to halt the sale of abortion drug RU-486 and enter into discussion on this subject was also brought forward. Both motions were carried.
Members of the provincial executive presented resolutions to the government and, with the help of the diocesan presidents, provided a copy of them to each of the six bishops. The provincial chairperson of resolutions, Dianne Barker, has, along with a past diocesan chairperson of resolutions, established a connection between Grade 12 students at their local co-ed Catholic high school to help them understand the League’s resolutions process. They taught them about the League and helped them select a topic of interest for a resolution. Gift memberships were offered to any girl who wished to join.
Members were very active in the March for Life in front of the parliament buildings in Victoria. Provincial officers and members attended mass together prior to the walk. Bishop Gary Gordon (Whitehorse) joined the walk, as well as many priests. An information table was set up with League brochures and postcards about League issues for people to sign.
A group of members worked with Sharon Cieben to produce a testimonials video that had been requested by the national chairperson of communications. It was a compilation video of members’ thoughts and feelings about the importance of being a member.
A workshop was held for the provincial executive, presented by professional registered parliamentarian and presentation skills training and coach, John Noonan. Each executive member was presented with Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion for their personal use and to share in their communiqués.
I am extremely proud to have represented the almost 9,000 members in this western-most province and territory. This report cannot possibly list all they do “For God and Canada”! They are hard-working women Joyfully Serving the Lord. I express my most sincere thanks and love to my executive team. It has been a joy and an honour to work with these dynamic and dedicated women, and it was truly an experience I will never forget.