2016 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Community Life

August 16, 2017

Betty Colaneri
National Chairperson of Community Life
2016 Annual Report

Sub-committee Chairpersons:
CCODP: Ann Plaunt (Ontario)
Poverty: Sarah Guinta

This committee is a call to action to serve one another by obeying the spirit of the law of Jesus. When members help and work with those in need, corporal works of mercy become the “washing of feet”. The council reports conveyed all the amazing accomplishments being done “For God and Canada.”

Dignity and Rights of Persons
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins by recognizing that “the inherent dignity…of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Members took on the responsibility of playing an active role in opposing discrimination wherever and in whatever form it appeared. They were generous with financial donations and extended their compassion to those suffering from bullying, domestic violence, homelessness, human trafficking, poverty, racism and genocide. Some members provided rosary brochures and beads to prisoners as well as Christmas gift bags to women exiting prison.

The generosity continued with items of food, clothing and hygiene products being brought to women’s shelters, refugee sanctuaries, food banks and drop-in centres for street people. Items were also donated to the Change for Change project for families experiencing domestic abuse, inner city children’s centres and groups helping with sex-trade workers. In a stand opposing violence against wom-en, members participated in a Take Back the Night® vigil. An educational billboard and transit shelter campaign was organized advertising “Buying Sex is a Crime” as part of the Canada wide bill-board blitz. Members gave of their talents by knitting hats and mitts for the Out of the Cold program and blankets and knit socks for homeless shelters.

Guest speakers made presentations at meetings and workshops on issues related to the dignity and rights of persons and human trafficking. Police representatives were invited to speak about the growing concern of Internet/telephone scams. Letters were written to local government officials addressing concerns of resolutions, while members were aware of the importance of the work still to be done. Postcards against human trafficking were sent to government officials keeping the matter in the forefront.

Canada’s Indigenous Peoples
In keeping with Resolution 2013.01 Building Relationships and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, members: extend-ed a hand of friendship to indigenous sisters in need with donations of clothing; knitted hats, mittens and scarves for school children in First Nations northern communities; and collected toys and financial contributions for Ephatha House for its celebration of the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Feast Day. In addition, an elder was invited to speak at a council meeting while membership was gifted to some indigenous women.

As an expression of unity, members attended or participated in events such as a blanket exercise workshop, a mass on the federal government’s National Aboriginal Day, Walking with Our Sisters’ Commemorative Art Installation, a powwow, Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Faceless Doll Project, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Red Shawl Campaign hosted by the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre. They also hung red dresses from downtown lamp posts and street signs as a way of bringing attention to missing and murdered aboriginal women.

To achieve a better understanding of the strife of indigenous women, members participated in a sharing circle, a Sisters in Spirit campaign, a walk for awareness, and worked with indigenous women who were incarcerated or recovering from cancer treatments at the healing lodge. Members wrote cards and letters of encouragement to First Nations youth on reserves in Moosonee, Attawapiskat and Pikangikum, and assisted with “Feathers of Hope” for indigenous youth and “Flowers of Hope” to assist a school on the Attawapiskat Reserve.

Social and Economic Justice
Feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless were just two of the corporal works of mercy members provided. They responded with time and compassion by selflessly giving to community organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Karing Kitchen soup kitchen, Loaves and Fishes Food Bank, Under One Umbrella Society, Chil-dren’s Foundation of Guelph and Hamilton, transition homes, Food4Kids, Coats for Kids & Families of the United Way Alberta Capital Region, Fort McMurray Fire Relief fund of the Canadian Red Cross, flood disaster associations in Cape Breton, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Good Shepherd centres for men and women in crisis, anti-poverty foundations, emergency shelters and Interval House for women in need in Toronto.

Members served at local drop in centres, domestic abuse shelters, violence prevention programs, restorative justice programs, break-fast and school lunch programs, and shelters and orphanages. They made Christmas baskets and food hampers. They shopped for and donated supplies to emergency shelters for women and children. They supported shelters and programs for high risk youth and helped provide nutrition programs in schools. The action plan from the resolutions dealing with social and economic justice was acted on with letters to government, monetary donations and volunteer services.

Refugees, Immigration and Citizenship
Members educated themselves to understand and in turn explain the difference between temporary foreign workers, immigrants and refugees. Guest presenters spoke on immigration issues, and members became informed about Canada’s official immigration and refugee policies to better understand the needs of immigrants and refugees. They sponsored families, joined refugee committees, assisted with English as a Second Language courses, supported refugee employment services and Tri-Heart Society, helped with financial assistance for food and rent, transportation and assisted with citizen-ship court by sponsoring lunch and attending citizenship ceremonies.

Letter writing, strengthening or establishing parish-based outreach programs for foreign workers was the choice of action based on Resolution 2016.01 Equal Access to Permanent Resident Status, An Amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

In appreciation of Canadian troops, members participated in Remembrance Day services, supported the Legion poppy campaign, wore red on Fridays and assisted with the needs of the Military Family Resource Centre.

Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP)
CCODP was supported by most councils through the League’s 1% Program for sisters in the global south. A new brochure was created and distributed informing members of the projects supported in Sierra Leone, Haiti and Afghanistan. Speakers from CCODP were invited to meetings and the League’s slide presentation was shown. CCODP was promoted and members were encouraged to join executive committees, collect postage stamps, and take part in various activities including Share Lent, disaster relief funds and THINKfast.

Developing Countries
Through monetary donations, awareness and prayer, support was provided to many national and international organizations including Chalice, Pennies for the Poor, Save a Family Plan, Nickels for the North, ChildCare INTERNATIONAL, Doctors without Borders, Wells of Hope, WE Charity, Holy Childhood Association, Operation Eyesight Universal, Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group, Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision Canada, Canadian Food Grains Bank, Leprosy Relief Canada, Homes of Joy, The Call of the Poor, Canadian Food for Children and Grandmothers Partnering with Africa. Servant’s Heart Ministries volunteers travelled to bring aid to countries in need.

CNEWA was promoted through brochures. The League worked together with CNEWA in support of Christian families in the Holy Land. The two projects supported were the Infant Welfare Centre in Jerusalem, which provided critical support to at-risk teenagers enabling them to stay in school, and The Shepherd’s Field Hospital in Beit Sahour, which provided health care to the poorest mothers and babies near Bethlehem.

In the gospel, immediately following His words on the power of faith, Jesus spoke of service. Faith and service cannot be separated. They are intimately linked and interwoven with each other. Therefore, faith becomes powerful and accomplishes marvellous deeds only when it is joined to service. Members were to be commended for the immense outpouring of service to the people of God. By giving of their time, talent and generous donations, many awesome deeds were accomplished over the past year. They have “washed the feet” of God’s people.