2015 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Spiritual Development
National 1st Vice-President and Chairperson of Spiritual Development
2015 Annual Report
Sub-committee Chairpersons: Judy Look, Theresa McGuire and Marie Rackley
“Spiritual growth is the very heart of the League and the essence of its existence” (Executive Handbook).
It is truly a privilege to serve as chairperson of spiritual development at any level. One may never know who is touched by the choice of programs and reflections, but rest assured that someone will be.
Spiritual growth of members
“The spiritual dimension sets the League apart from all other women’s organizations” (ibid).
All provincial chairperson reports included all or some of the following in order to feed their members, new and seasoned, mobile and stationary. The list was comprehensive, and the prayer life of members was not static. The League provided exceptional traditional and new opportunities to grow.
Members studied the national theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission through invited speakers, prayer services and visual displays. Recitation of the Hail Mary at masses brought parishes together in seeking the intercession of Mary and for personal and parish healing. Eucharistic celebrations were held before meetings to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel on April 26th. Members were encouraged to attended daily mass where possible, to celebrate significant council anniversaries, to remember and honour deceased members, to hold honour guards at funerals, to attend first Friday and Saturday masses and to reflect on the personal value of this practice.
Spiritual bouquets, services and reflections to honour Mary were held, and an empty chair ceremony to honour deceased members was held in November. Members attended rosary Sundays at Martyrs’ Shrine, “Lift Jesus Higher” rallies, conferences, prayer days and evenings, pilgrimages and beatitude prayer services. They provided presentations on the rosary to councils, and in the parish in general. One council produced a beatitude quilt for reflection, then recited and reflected on the League Prayer and encouraged its recitation daily, as well as before meetings and workshops, prayer vigils and stations of the cross. One council produced a CD on The Mysteries of the Rosary.
Pope Francis’s proclamation of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy gave many opportunities for reflecting while taking a pilgrimage through the Holy Door. Members used several League spiritual development resources on the website.
Members were encouraged to read or view and discuss Christian books, videos, magazines and online reflections including women in scripture, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Matthew Kelly’s Rediscovering Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose, Fr. Richard Rohr’s daily reflections, the works of Fr. Ron Rolheiser and Terry Modica, The Word Among Us, Lectio Divina, The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation, the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization’s website, David Suchet: In the Footsteps of St. Paul, Matthew: The King and His Kingdom, Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), Salt + Light TV and YouTube.
Councils introduced and used Shorter Christian Prayer, The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer, Could You Not Watch with Me One Hour?: How to Cultivate a Deeper Relationship with the Lord through Eucharistic Adoration and the Daughters of St. Paul’s Ordinary Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. Councils organized prayer partners within councils and included prayers for prayer partners as part of the national prayer partner initiative. Councils: included names in the Book of Life and wrote specific intentions for masses before meetings; created a stained glass window with Mary, Our Lady of Grace and 12 female saints; supported by a booklet on each saint to allow reflection; and developed a guide and directions for planning a Mary’s Garden. Councils organized speakers from the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelites and celebrated the Marian feast days (April 26th, December 8th and 12th) with masses and luncheons. One member recreated her council’s Book of Life, going back 60 years.
Study of Catholic teachings
“Faith is a way of life which is characterized by a constant and ongoing conversion and renewal of mind and heart. Members must constantly be in the process of spiritual growth” (ibid).
Councils coordinated reflections by parish priests or spiritual advisors, Alpha courses, Christian life and faith seminars, DVD screenings and a day of reflection on “The Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality.” Councils provided links to Following Jesus: Through the Gospels in a Year, Read the Catechism in a Year, Best Advent Ever™ Rediscover Mercy, Best Lent Ever®, 3-Minute Retreats, Bishop Robert Barron’s The Catholicism Series and seminars from Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice. Information from Pope Francis’s communications, exhortations and teachings was distributed.
Members watched an eight episode series entitled, Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother and facilitated an explanation of Advent for an entire parish on each of the four Sundays. Members used the Catholic Digest website, the League’s Ceremonies Booklet and Prayers and Workshops for Women of Peace and Hope. Members were encouraged to read and discuss articles printed in Catholic magazines and journals, as well as on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.
Councils acted on resolutions related to spiritual development, particularly Resolution 1974.01 Prayer for Peace. One member wrote And So We Go… From Season to Season with assistance from other members and clergy.
Role of women in the church
“Women are called to take an active and responsible leadership role in the church’s life and mission by actively participating in League, church and community” (ibid).
Members provided leadership and assisted with faith development. They sat on parish councils and parish leadership teams, liturgy and finance committees, provided an honour guard at a conference and promoted women’s place in the church and society.
Thousands of hours of volunteer work, of women selflessly giving their time to the growth of the church and community, was reported. A servant leadership workshop was conducted throughout one province so women could reflect on their God-given gifts and how they could use them “For God and Canada.”
Evangelization and mission assistance
“Members are called to lead all people to encounter Christ. The League’s mission will remain incomplete until we can say we have shared not only our material goods with others but, more importantly, our gift of faith” (ibid).
In terms of evangelization, members presented bibles to Grade 4 students, printed World Meeting of Families prayer cards for parishioners, coordinated a presentation by the director of a deaconate formation program and a presentation by a deacon on evangelization through embracing the gospel, organized family fun nights to assist with evangelization of youth and participated in parish or diocesan renewal programs. Prayer lines assisted with evangelizing.
Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC) was a high priority. Some councils reported making financial donations but did not indicate amounts. Esk-Omi Missions, Kee-Pas Missions and St. Francis Xavier missions were also supported monetarily. Cookbooks, spaghetti dinners and bake sales were often the means to raise funds for missions in Canada.
Resolution 2005.01 Christmas Postage Stamps was supported among councils. There was some support reported for Resolution 1976.02 Pontifical Missionary Work for Children and Resolution 1986.01 Needs of the Elderly in Our Parishes.
“The strength of League ministry can be measured in proportion to the depth of members’ spirituality” (ibid).
Members assisted in all lay ministries of the parish. No gift was greater than another; all were welcomed, and all served with the gifts God gave them. Many of the lay ministries were organized and led by members. Members selflessly coordinated, set up and served most parish functions including meals, feast day celebrations, fundraising initiatives, sacramental celebrations, bazaars, counting collections, cultural activities, coffee Sundays, taking communion to the sick, and bereavement team coordination.
Ecumenism and interfaith endeavours
“Ongoing interfaith dialogues have revealed vast areas of common action and resulted in the collaboration of churches on a range of social issues” (ibid).
Members attended World Day of Prayer services, were part of community sectors of the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada, attended ecumenical prayer breakfasts, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services, and community nativity pageants, passion plays and gospel choirs.
A new hymn honouring Our Lady of Good Counsel was chosen and introduced at the annual national convention from a field of more than 20 entries. The winning entry was composed by Mary Ertel of Kitchener, Ontario. A protocol for honour guards at funerals of members was prepared and pended approval by the national executive. A service for executives ending their terms was prepared by sub-committee chairperson Judy Look.
Recommendations (options for provinces, some new and some a review)
Teleconferences of provincial and diocesan chairpersons were considered a successful means for fostering communication. Theme study was considered very important, so all chairpersons of spiritual development were encouraged to focus each meeting with prayer and reflections that support the theme. It was recommended that meetings continue to be organized around the one-third principle for spiritual development of members. Chairpersons were encouraged to always ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Members were encouraged to contact locally and nationally-selected prayer partners. Councils were encouraged to make a practice of spiritually feeding members by promoting programs to enrich faith development, provide financial support to CMIC and pray for life from its beginning to its natural end.