2015 Annual Report – Manitoba

October 01, 2016

Faith Anderson
Manitoba Provincial Council President
2015 Annual Report

Keewatin-The Pas, St. Boniface and Winnipeg diocesan councils actively promoted the League to parish councils and lived the national theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission. They continued to offer development opportunities by hosting Catch the Fire!, an annual day of reflection on evangelization, fall meetings, a workshop on letter-writing and a presentation on the law pertaining to the Supreme Court of Canada ruling on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. Due to the vast distance between councils in the north, Keewatin-The Pas Diocesan Council held a full-day resolutions workshop in conjunction with its annual diocesan convention where a resolution was gifted to a council to complete and put into practice. St. Boniface Diocesan Council arranged for a presentation on conflict management and reconciliation at its annual diocesan convention.

Members attended diocesan, provincial and national conventions. Councils held teas, suppers, bazaars, movie nights, wind-ups, Christmas gatherings, potluck dinners, children’s games and picnics, and fellowship after mass. Members were recognized for their service through the presentation of certificates of merit, years of service pins (some 45, 50 and 65), maple leaf service pins and Bellelle Guerin awards. Members’ commitment and service were acknowledged by these presentations.

Members participated in various programs to help those in their community. They collected aluminum cans for wheelchair programs, soup labels for education, toiletries for a women’s shelter and baby items for a pro-life dresser project for a single mother. They supported Catholic summer camp programs, teen programs, a collection for Mary’s Meals, Esk-OMI Missions and Kee-Pas missions, and helped a community school. Parish councils in Winnipeg were involved in S.N.O.W. (Safe Night Off Winnipeg streets) for sex trade workers and Dignity House for women leaving the sex trade. Members participated in an inter-denominational program to provide support and assistance to immigrant families in their community.

Members’ outreach extended beyond their communities to support various initiatives such as Operation Eyesight International, Save a Family Plan, NET Ministries of Canada and the Open Doorways Orphanage Inc. in Haiti (started by a Manitoba member in 2000). A child in Colombia was fostered through Chalice. Families in Mexico, India and Poland received monetary relief and most northern councils participated in Operation Christmas Child. A young seminarian in the Philippines was financially supported. Councils participated in the 1% Program for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) as well as participating on parish committees. Members also participated in CCODP’s Share Lent Campaign and THINKfast program, and they collected stamps for CCODP. Councils supported Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Buy-a-Net Malaria Prevention Group. One council made dresses for women through MaterCare International. Monetary donations were sent to the Coady International Institute, CCODP, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Catholic Missions In Canada and MaterCare International.

Members were involved in their communities in a variety of ways—cuddling babies at the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, acting as Girl Guides of Canada leaders and participating in the Misericordia Health Centre’s Angel Squad gathering that broke the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of angels. Councils financially and/or physically supported over 20 different organizations, locally and provincially, that worked with marginalized and homeless persons (women’s shelters, refugee sanctuaries, food banks, drop-in centres for food or clothing, inner city children’s centres, and groups helping with sex-trade workers or collecting hygiene products for people living on the street). Members volunteered at citizenship ceremonies and supported Holy Names House of Peace, a sanctuary for single immigrant women and their families and trafficked women seeking refuge with transitional housing and life-skill services. Many councils held presentations to raise awareness about the needs of refugees and immigrants. Prayer shawl ministries were active in a number of councils.

In their parishes, members: led the rosary and stations of the cross; were lectors, Eucharistic ministers, sacristans, musicians and choir members, greeters and catechists; and brought communion to shut-ins. It was noted “League members continually contribute to and participate in the ecclesial, cultural, social and economical life of our parish community and allow it to flourish and grow.” Councils continued to be generous with their donations by buying nine videos for catechetical program, gifts for first communion and confirmation students, and supplying food or sponsoring luncheons for their parishes.

Councils kept in touch with members by distributing council meeting minutes, using bulletin boards in their parishes, publishing newsletters, and, for one northern council, using its daily newspaper to apprise the community and members of awards presented. Prayer calendars were used, a decade of the Rosary for Peace was recited at the closing of a monthly meeting, two League Sundays were instituted, and members began their day with daily mass on Vision TV in isolated areas where there was no access to daily mass.

There was concern with the disbanding of some parish councils; however, a highlight was the organization and chartering on March 5, 2015 of Ste. Anne-des-Chênes Parish Council (St. Anne), a rural council in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface. Holding a membership coffee party and using the testimonials video provided avenues for membership drives. The membership dues of elderly members living in nursing homes were paid by some councils. Facebook was used to post photographs of “A day in the life of a CWL Member”. Membership kits were used for new members. “Focus has been on increasing membership, celebrating member achievements, increasing the visibility of the League, and being a proud member by wearing a CWL pin or scarf,” as noted in the provincial chairperson of organization’s annual report.

Councils were creative in writing their annual reports. Potluck dinners were held, members worked after meetings to fill out reports, breakfast meetings were held to review minutes and brainstorm, and a seminar was held on “How to Prepare Annual Reports.”

Members took action on various issues and resolutions. Petitions and letters were sent to governments indicating their position against pornography, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. In the northern diocese, most councils reported participating in the Pornography Hurts postcard campaign. Several councils sponsored parish-wide letter writing campaigns and information sessions on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, and thousands of letters were mailed. Members educated themselves about microbeads in health care products, the importance of recycling, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, organ and tissue donations, planned parenthood, bio-technologies, the sale and use of aborted baby parts and the benefits of collecting and saving cord blood.

The Nominations and Elections Guidelines binders for parish, diocesan and provincial councils were revised according to changes to the Constitution & Bylaws and the National Manual of Policy and Procedure. Copies and electronic files were provided to councils.

The provincial council introduced, established and promoted various initiatives. A provincial banner was purchased and displayed at the 100th anniversary mass of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg. A pro-life banner was purchased and used at the annual March for Life, where members from across Manitoba marched behind the banner. Work began on a new provincial website that would be launched at the 2016 Annual Day of Celebration. A delegation met twice with the provincial premier and cabinet ministers to bring forward concerns raised through resolutions. A resolutions workshop was held, guiding members through a poorly researched and written resolution. The annual life member gathering was held and included, for the first time, Bellelle Guerin award recipients. The council hosted its annual day of celebration at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Aboriginal Catholic Parish, where the aboriginal culture and spirituality was celebrated along with a presentation of “The Blanket Exercise”.

Members embraced the national theme by actively acting on contentious issues with “one voice”, helping those in need through actions and monetary contributions with “one heart” and extending their arms of support to the parishes, communities, Canada and abroad with “one mission”. They are truly “women rooted in gospel values” who live the League prayer to “teach us to share with others at home and abroad the good things you have given us”, doing this “For God and Canada.”