2016 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Organization

August 16, 2017

Anne-Marie Gorman
National President-Elect and Chairperson of Organization
2016 Annual Report

It was a privilege to read the detailed reports provided by provincial councils which were painstakingly prepared from parish council reports. The year 2016 was unique in the League’s history as it was the first year councils used an online survey for reporting which provided much useful data. While many found the new challenge daunting, the information gleaned and statistics realized will be enormously helpful with assessment and future planning at all levels. God is good, all the time.

Recruit Members and Maintain Membership
“The strength of the League is in its membership” (Executive Handbook). As of December 31, 2016, the total paid membership for the League was 82,541, down marginally from January 1, 2016. The largest demographics were in the 56-70 age range. New members totalled just over 4,000, but the number of those who did not renew totalled more than 6,000. The number of members reinstated accounted for 2,213 and deceased members accounted for 1,036. This information provided councils graphic data for planning activities around membership drives. All but two provincial councils saw a slight decrease in membership. Congratulations to the Military Ordinariate and Alberta Mackenzie provincial councils that saw a slight increase.

The main reasons women joined the League included spiritual development, social interaction and the opportunity to assist with fund raising for various causes within and outside of parishes. Women wanted to be of use and knew that their time would be spent productively.

Personal contact continued to be the best manner to recruit new members. Visibility of members in the parish wearing an insignia encouraged questions and an opportunity to “sell” the League’s brand. Interestingly was the influence of the spiritual advisor in promoting the League in parishes. His/her words of encouragement and support inspired women to join and remain.

Members looked after each other. Gift memberships, recognition of members, taking care of members unable to serve and providing funding for attendance at conventions were among the ways wom-en felt affirmed; they wanted to belong and remain with an organization that was a sisterhood.

Leadership Development
“Great League members do not just happen; they must be encouraged, trained and supported” (Executive Handbook).

The greatest challenge reported was filling the position of president-elect. In order to boost members’ confidence and assume leadership roles councils:
• Encouraged attendance at conventions and retreats, and funded accordingly
• Attended regional meetings and engaged in workshops
• Hosted workshops in parishes, regions and conventions
• Hosted guest speakers
• Engaged in shared leadership and specific training for identified leadership prospects
• Presented Catch the Fire! and S’Mores workshops for groups large and small
• Provided an education component at each meeting
• Used the opportunity of hosting a national convention to engage members, network, educate, invigorate and provide take-home materials for future use in the parish councils

The National Development Fund subsidy had a budget of $38,500. Of that amount, all but $6,448.51 was paid or pending payment at the end of the year. Councils were to be commended for hosting workshops and accessing the funding. The challenge remains to realize the “fruit” from the workshops.

League Resource Materials
“To ensure the council operates efficiently and effectively, it is essential to have a good working knowledge of the League” (Executive Handbook). At the top of the list of materials most used by councils was The Canadian League, a testament to how hard the national communications team worked to provide educational and inspirational material with practical applications for each member.

In order to educate each other, an array of hands-on practical and relatively succinct documents comprised a council’s working toolbox. The Constitution & Bylaws, National Manual of Policy and Procedure, Executive Handbook, Ceremonies Booklet and League Prayers were physically in the parish council and were also easily accessed online. Welcome brochures, mass cards, certificates and other promotional materials were used to a great extent. It was conveyed that promotional materials needed more work and to that end, a “New Members Kit” was compiled with suggested materials for inclusion completed. Councils were encouraged to adapt the kits to meet the needs of their unique situations; however, basic ma-terial to educate and orient new members was essential.

Annual Reports
“Reports are an important means of communicating with others in the parish, the community and the country at large” (Executive Handbook). Using minutes, journal entries, monthly reports and meeting as a group to synthesize work completed in the respective standing committees, members dutifully compiled their annual re-ports. This year was unique, as, for the first time, parish councils reported online, with remarkable success. While provincial councils noted parish councils were often ill-equipped for this challenge, the reporting percentage was actually higher than for the previous year. I was particularly impressed with the large number of parish councils (530) that completed the online survey for chairper-sons of organization and the final question about a success story regarding membership. Members wanted to see the League contin-ue and flourish, as it was a vital part of parish life. How to ensure this happens may be one of the challenges for the future.

It was truly moving to read the chairpersons’ comments about their impressions from the reports they received. I would like to share some:
• “It gives a picture of the dedication, love, and vitality of coun-cils in a province”.
• “Reports are a necessary tool”.
• “I was surprised by the amount of work”.
• “I am humbled by the grace and beauty of the women who have touched my life”.
• One parish council counted its volunteer service in hours – 2,469.

Life Membership
“Councils benefit greatly from the experience and expertise of life members.” Life members are in every provincial council, and many continue to hold office at parish, diocesan and provincial levels. They are treasures, mentors, facilitators and work horses whose wisdom is welcomed to be exploited at all levels. More than one provincial report noted that life members were not called into ser-vice as often as could be expected. The National Manual of Policy and Procedure states, “National council requires support and active service from its life members”. Life members, as founts of wisdom in the organization, continue to be resources to be called into action to assist with all types of training and counsel.

Chairperson’s Activities
As national chairperson, my duties began with reviewing and add-ing to the online survey (report) for organization prior to its circula-tion to councils. Members were reminded that the questionnaire attempted to consider all sub-sections, which may not be part of every council’s activities. In no way did omitting or saying “no” to any of the questions lessen the work done over many thousands of hours. All are to be commended for the amazing amount of service “For God and Canada” in whichever form that took.

Permission for the use of the League crest, review of applications for the National Development Fund, requests for the provincial grant with follow up telephone calls for clarification, writing letters, and participating in a development day for the upcoming theme Inspired by the Spirit: Women Respond to God’s Call provided several learning opportunities. I reviewed all documents pertaining to the standing committee on organization (example: criteria for life membership, development fund subsidy, provincial grant), kept abreast of membership statistics as prepared by Membership Coordinator Amanda McCormick and presented information to the national executive as prepared by Executive Director Kim Scammell.

The national executive indicated it was ready to embark on a new and exciting journey in League history. During the fall national ex-ecutive meeting, and with the support of National Spiritual Advisor Bishop William McGrattan (Calgary), members of the national ex-ecutive began to take a serious look at how to proceed into the next centenary. The die was cast and the hard work of discernment be-gan. With the assistance of Kim Scammell and led by National President Margaret Ann Jacobs, the “presidents three” began to study strategic planning. The first step was a conference call where some important issues were considered such as why the League exists as an organization; how the League could use the significant information from the 2000 report of the Vision Committee and the 2008 report from Manifest Communications; how the League com-pared with other not-for-profits when it comes to moving forward in this modern age; and how the League may be assisted with moving forward. The outcome of that frank discussion formed the basis of plans for 2017. It was agreed that communication would be an integral part of strategic planning for the League in projecting an image between and among every level of council nationwide.

Needing assistance, a series of exercises began that helped bring about a consensus among the “presidents three”. The national exec-utive planned to enter 2017 with excitement, enthusiasm, and con-fidence that the Holy Spirit will inspire its efforts to make the League not only viable, but vital to the church, Canada and the world in the next 100 years.