2016 Annual Report – Manitoba

August 17, 2017

Faith Anderson
Manitoba Provincial Council President
2016 Annual Report

Members in Manitoba’s three diocesan councils Keewatin-The Pas, St. Boniface and Winnipeg were active on many levels working within the framework of the League and the national theme, One Heart, One Voice, One Mission:
Palliative and Hospice Care.

Winnipeg Diocesan Council’s annual fall workshop and meeting hosted guest speakers from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Palliative Care Program. A clinical specialist and program director explained the legislated health care directive and advance care plan form, which outlines the care goals if one is unable to express them. St. Boniface Diocesan Council’s Annual Day of Reflection hosted a guest speaker from Jocelyn House Hospice that provides care for people living the end of their lives in a home-like environment. Keewatin-The Pas Diocesan Council held a S’Mores workshop at its annual convention and provided members of the north the opportunity to explore and discuss the organization and man-date of the League.

Over 90% of councils discussed and acted upon medical assistance in dying (MAiD) followed closely by palliative care (83.9%). The issue of MAiD generated letter-writing campaigns, signing of petitions and completing online surveys, information sharing, speaker presentations, postcard mailing, pamphlet circulation and ongoing prayers garnering support for palliative and hospice care. One coun-cil framed a special prayer for palliative care, placing it in the palliative care unit of a hospital. Many councils participated in the “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” initiative.

First priorities of councils were identified as spiritual development, pro-life, physician assisted death and euthanasia, social justice and increasing membership. Being identified as a group that worked hard to support the parish and community, to provide a place where Catholic women could meet to discuss and learn about issues that affected members as women and Catholics, and to maintain active councils also formed part of the list. Members participated in bible studies, Stations of the Cross, Fellowship of the Least Coin, World Day of Prayer, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, holy door pilgrimages, Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy discernment, Pope Francis’ Mercy Fridays and local Marian Hour awareness. All councils began and ended meetings in prayer and some had the celebration of the Eucharist. Councils held membership in local pro-life organizations and collected baby items for a “baby dresser project” that was then provided to a single mother who had chosen to carry her child to term. Councils contributed to the 1% Program for the CCODP.

Fundraising through bake sales, bazaars, carnivals, 50/50 draws, spring teas, rummage sales and perogy sales helped to meet the monetary commitments of councils to effect change in the community, country and globally through charitable donations. Fundraising activities held by northern councils enabled them to donate generously to different organizations/missions in need, including parishes that could not function without their support.

Councils supported Operation Christmas Child, Women’s Safe Haven Resource Services Inc., Kids First North Program and were involved in Chez Nous, Immaculate Conception Drop-in Centre, Rossbrook House, Prison Fellowship Canada, Dignity House Inc., Winnipeg Harvest and local food banks, and northern missions. Members supported Christians in the Holy Land and a Missionaries of Charities camp for refugee children.

Members were active in their parish serving as lectors, Eucharistic ministers, lay presiders, catechists and choir members, in the music ministry and on various parish committees. They supported first communion and confirmation candidates often by presenting a small gift. Participation in honour guards for deceased sisters and preparation of funeral lunches were also provided. Within the community, members volunteered with Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Cancer Society, Meals on Wheels, hospital boards, a nurses’ union and a local chamber of commerce, taught sign language and visited shut-ins.

Councils kept in touch with membership via e-mail (93.5%), meeting reports (80.6%) and telephone (80.6%). Members were kept informed using newsletters, parish bulletins, written and oral reports at annual meetings. Information was gathered through local newspapers (58.1%), the national website (51.6%), communiqués (67.7%), diocesan newsletters (71%) and The Canadian League magazine (67.7%). Other resources used were Catholic websites, correspondence from diocesan councils, health organizations, senior groups, The Prairie Messenger, talking to others, Facebook, executive meeting reports, literature on given topics and palliative care from health care providers, as well as the Vatican website.

Councils reported supporting members to attend diocesan (67.9%) and provincial (57.9%) conventions, and subsidized members to attend other functions/events. Some miscellaneous comments reflecting the heart and spirit of the League included:

• “Our numbers are small, but our spirit is large. Members were devoted to the League and joyfully came together in service to the people ‘For God and of Canada’.”
• “Held our first fashion show as a fundraiser and raised a sub-stantial amount of money which allowed for the expansion of charitable works and contributed additional funding to the par-ish. Partnered with the Knights of Columbus to involve parish members in a volunteer initiative at Winnipeg Harvest. The hope is to create interest among younger parishioners to take part while mentoring them to become members of the League and the Knights of Columbus.”
• “Raised $3,000 for the refugee fund; hosted a parish pot luck; held a major fund raiser in November; provided deanery lunches; showed the film Hush; provided a meal for a youth retreat; took part in confirmation and first communion; helped with the planning of St Augustine Feast Day celebrations, and assisted Meals on Wheels.”
• “Although we didn’t focus on the national theme/logo, our activities reflected the needs of the membership – we have a super group of ladies.”
• “Devoted to making this world a better place by doing charitable works, advocating for change, revitalization and refocusing.”
• “We have a great bunch of dedicated members who have worked so hard for our council. We need to revive our council with younger members and give these wonderful women time to relax and enjoy the League more.”
• “Most of our active members were involved in multiple parish activities and committees. As members age it becomes more difficult to attend meetings, support activities and become involved in many events. This has challenged us to become more creative in meeting the demands of our council. We have focused on elder and shut-in members to increase their involvement by praying for their council and have increased communication with them by newsletters, prayer, visits, phone calls, delivery of meals for special holidays and prayer shawls. We also benefited from their wisdom.”
• “The supportive parish Fellowship Ministry helped provide refreshments for the Speakers’ Corner events. Our members include retired physicians, teachers, nurses and IT professionals who were focused on the social and health issues of today, bringing enlightenment to our conversations.”
• “Prepared a sausage and pancake breakfast on the Sunday be-fore Ash Wednesday; prayer calendar for Lent; arranged a pro-cession of young people to place a flower at the foot of Our Lady’s statue in the month of May; first communicants were presented with a rosary and booklet composed by Saint Pope John Paul II on the luminous mysteries; offered a Rosary for Peace in the World before mass during October; bake sale and auction was held with proceeds going to agencies who feed the hungry; volunteered at Riverview Health Centre to porter patients to and from mass and volunteered at Winnipeg Harvest and Siloam Mission.”

The chairperson of the Winnipeg diocesan legislation standing committee expressed it well. “There is a ground swell of informed and active women in the CWL. We are a praying group of women that make a difference in our society… The work never ends. Keep informed, express your concerns, and be involved.…is challenging, interesting, and gives us a real sense of being part of a much larger entity in our society. Be involved. The balance of social justice is in our hand.”

The provincial executive introduced several initiatives. Keynote speaker Deacon Gilles Urquhart (Holy Cross, Winnipeg) spoke on the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy at the Annual Day of Celebration and a S’Mores workshop was held in the afternoon. Toiletry items were collected for the homeless as a provincial year of mercy project. A province-wide request for support for “Tabs for Wheelchair” program was also launched.

At the provincial convention, more was learned about missing and murdered indigenous women. Prayers were written on a paper red dress then hung in the grove throughout the day. CMIC provided a display and insight into the day-to-day challenges of those providing missionary services to remote areas. Display tables were available for CCODP and Canadian Blood Services – Partners for Life. For the first time, a service was held for deceased members and spiritual advisors. Selected parish council presidents enjoyed an in-formal lunch with former National President Barbara Dowding who later presented a brief workshop on the national theme. The executive director from Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council shared how refugees were assisted to adjust to their new life. Accompanying her was Manitoba’s first Syrian refugee who shared her experience of leaving Syria and journeying to her new homeland.

Three resolutions were adopted. A new provincial government was elected and the delegation was pleased to meet with the minister of health, seniors and active living. The 2015 national annual report was provided during the meeting to demonstrate national exposure and a historical statement of the provincial council’s meetings with the provincial government, including the League’s contributions to society over the years. Councils provided photographs and information for Be League for the month of September. A resolutions workshop was held. Letters were drafted in response to Resolution 2015.04 Invoke Section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the case of Carter v. Canada and addressed to the prime minister, appropriate federal ministers and members of parliament. The letters were sent through diocesan presidents to parish councils and members. A website committee was struck to create a new website.

Members in Manitoba, although aging and small in numbers, have made substantial contributions to their parish, community, country and at times globally. Their efforts demonstrated the committed outreach as they actively participated in promoting the essence of the national theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission: Palliative and Hospice Care. Much work was accomplished at the grassroots level and members can be proud of their efforts to foster, promote and live out gospel values through their work “For God and Canada.”