2015 Annual Report – Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island Provincial Council President
2015 Annual Report
The annual reports submitted by council presidents outlined many interesting, rewarding projects and activities completed by members within their parishes and communities “For God and Canada.” In my last report as provincial president, I will summarize these accomplishments. It clearly shows that members understood the meaning of the theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission.
The 2,064 paid members benefitted from individual and collective spiritual development programs. At monthly meetings, there was the opportunity to share spiritual thoughts, as meetings began sometimes with mass and ended with prayer. Prayers were offered for deceased members, prayer lines were organized in councils, and the rosary was said during the months of May and October, and also before weekday masses. Other events participated in were a mass on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Good Counsel, a memorial mass in November, a rosary and pilgrimage for the Canadian Martyrs, a daily rosary for the abortion issue, a Friday mass followed by reciting the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, a special holy hour at church in prayerful support of the XIV Ordinary Synod of Bishops (on the family), a celebration of the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy on December 8th with overnight adoration, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services, World Day of Prayer, Mary’s Way of the Cross during Lent, Theology of the Body and mini-retreats. Some members belonged to a weekly prayer group. Councils supported mass for shut-ins that helped many people share in the celebration of Eucharist during the week. Some members took part in discussing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’.
As membership declined due to the deaths of senior members (49 this year), the provincial council was faced with many challenges. With members getting older, the future of councils was of great concern. There was difficulty in filling leadership positions. Councils worked hard to recruit new and younger members. Seven parish councils reported an increase in membership. Personal invitation seemed to be the most effective method. Membership dues were collected through church envelopes, personal contact, telephone calls, notices in bulletins and monthly meetings. Some councils payed dues for members over a certain age and those in nursing homes. Members participated on CWL Membership Sunday by serving as hospitality ushers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers and singing in the choir. During this weekend, members spoke on what the League was and why it was a great organization. Parish priests supported the League by acting as spiritual advisors and attending monthly meetings.
Councils wished to be kept informed on key issues. The provincial focus this year was on seniors and their concerns. Two parish councils hosted fall conferences, St. Paul Parish Council (Summerside) and St. Joachim Parish Council (Vernon River). They provided members with an opportunity to grow in holiness, fellowship and League development. Being the Year of Consecrated Life, a Congrégation de Notre-Dame sister was asked to speak on her life journey and what life was like in retirement. Members enjoyed listening to her speak; she was once was spiritual advisor for St. Paul Parish Council. In Vernon River, a sister from the Sisters of St. Martha recalled many interesting and humorous events in her life journey.
At both conferences, a provincial executive member gave an account of her involvement with seniors. A workshop was held for each group of chairpersons, with the provincial chairperson explaining how to write annual reports following the Constitution & Bylaws. The executive director of the Catholic Family Services Bureau spoke to the membership on the Triple P Parenting Program and offered it to anyone who wished to use it. The provincial past president spoke on the issues concerning euthanasia and what members could do. In Vernon River, a grand knight from the Knights of Columbus spoke on how his council was able to increase membership and gave members tips they could use in their own councils to get more members.
The annual provincial convention was well attended. The day began with mass and prayer followed by two main speakers who focused on the national theme. A speaker from the Catholic Family Services Bureau spoke on how music therapy helps quiet, withdrawn clients to converse more easily with other people and feel more comfortable in their surroundings. The convention provided time for spiritual enrichment, open discussion and opportunity to renew friendships and make new ones. Attendees enjoyed watching life members perform their “Sister Act”.
The four area meetings allowed for networking with sister members and opportunities for sharing, which provided encouragement to continue the good works in councils.
Members remained active in all areas of parish life. They served on committees and parish councils, and as hospice volunteers, Eucharistic and hospitality ministers. They were lectors and gift bearers, sang in choirs and brought communion to the sick in hospitals. They provided assistance for luncheons after funerals, priest zone meetings and Knights of Columbus fundraising dinners. They prepared and served a meal twice for patrons of the Upper Room. Gifts were given to first communicants and confirmation candidates. Financial support was provided for refugees. One council adopted a community care home where members visited regularly to help seniors with activities. This same council baked sweets on the last Sunday of the month for the local soup kitchen. Members visited seniors in their homes and manors and brought spiritual Christmas cards.
Members respected life from conception until natural death. They supported the PEI Right to Life Association through membership and taking part in the annual March for Life and silent vigil. Many signed a petition requesting no abortions be carried out in the province. Members also wrote letters to politicians opposing the government’s program of paying for abortions in Moncton, New Brunswick. Members wrote letters to federal and provincial politicians expressing their views against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. Birthright International was supported by volunteers and financially. Some members were part of a group working to eradicate poverty. Other members supported the Catholic Family Services Bureau by participating in its fundraising efforts and attending its annual meeting.
Members generously shared financially in their own communities and the world. They gave to their local hospitals, IWK Health Centre, Hospice Palliative Care Association of PEI, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Food Banks Canada, Canadian Cancer Society, the PEI Catholic Women’s League Girls Bursary, bursaries for college and university graduates, Coady International Institute, Catholic Missions In Canada, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Velma’s Dream and to Fr. Roy Shea’s project, to name a few.
The provincial council brought greetings to a parish council celebrating its 90th anniversary. Members were encouraged to read The Canadian League magazine, and access Be League online and take a copy to their meetings to share with those who do not use the Internet. Councils were asked to submit items to Be League highlighting special activities in their councils.
Pope Francis declared the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Parish councils received a pamphlet from national office asking members to support palliative and hospice care in their communities through spiritual and corporal acts of mercy, personal encounter and prayer. Councils made use of their pledge cards. For example, a council donated hand made pillows to breast cancer patients.
The provincial council prepared a biannual newsletter and triannual communiqués to assist parish councils in learning more about current issues and what was happening in other councils. The practise of calling parish council presidents to find out if they were receiving all the necessary information for their councils seemed to be very much appreciated. This contact also gave presidents a chance to clarify any concerns they had. The Canadian League continued to keep councils informed on national issues.
The first presidents’ meeting, hosted in Belcourt, provided a rare opportunity for presidents to talk with other presidents and share openly their success stories and concerns. It was hoped that this event, if monies permit, would be able to happen every second year.
As my term as provincial president comes to an end, I want to thank Fr. Paul Batchilder, the provincial executive and all sister members for their prayers and support. May Our Lady of Good Counsel continue to bless members of Prince Edward Island with the giftedness of generosity that they share so freely.