2016 Annual Report – National President and Chairperson of International Relations

August 16, 2017

Margaret Ann Jacobs
National President and Chairperson of International Relations
2016 Annual Report

It was truly an overwhelming task to reflect on the dedicated efforts by members, the comprehensive online reports filed by parish presidents (over 200 pages) and the challenging task fulfilled by diocesan presidents to condense the feedback which was finalized by the carefully synopsized reports filed by provincial presidents. Brava!

The provincial responses totaled 851 with the percentage of parish councils reporting ranging from 50-94.4%, reflecting a participation rate of 72.3%. Thank you for undertaking this monumental challenge of online reporting. Although daunting, the optimism that officers reflected, the concerns they shared and the suggestions offered will be invaluable as the League moves forward.

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy was embraced as members spoke out boldly in One Heart, One Voice, One Mission: Palliative and Hospice Care. Councils worked to provide spiritual growth, leadership development, community service and justice in the world. It was amazing to hear of the creative ways members found to enact corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Education, awareness and financial support were extended to sufferers of incarceration, bullying, pornography, domestic violence, abused and abusers, homelessness, disabled, poverty, Indigenous women (blanket exercise, red dress project and wisdom tables), youth, mental health initiatives, refugees, respite care facilities, shelters, food and clothing drives and depots.

Encyclicals Evangeli Gaudium and Laudato Si’ were studied, “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” (provincial prayer wave) was widely embraced with rosaries, prayer services, guest speakers, re-treats and pro-life activities being held. Memorial services, Lent and Advent services, stations of the cross and feast day celebrations took place. Projects were undertaken for blesseds and saints.

Catholic websites, resources and programs were promoted to con-tribute to the faith enrichment of members who in turn supported vocations, Catholic Missions In Canada, Samaritan’s Purse, Velma’s Dream and seminarians. They participated in ecumenical services, World Day of Prayer, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations Annual Day of Prayer (WUCWO), Fellowship of the Least Coin, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), Chalice and the Canadian Red Cross. Information was shared from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) and advanced care directives. Councils reached out to parishioners offering programs for family enrichment, weddings and anniversaries.

Members were informed largely by The Canadian League and national, provincial and diocesan communiqués, websites and news-letters. The Constitution & Bylaws was the resource most used with the National Manual of Policy and Procedure and the Executive Handbook referenced.

Membership kits, bulletin announcements, presentations and stewardship fairs were promotional tools accessed with personal touch continuing to be the primary source of encouragement for member-ship. Recognition of service, mentoring, workshop training, conferences and convention attendance informed and held members’ continued involvement. Cards, prayer shawls, transportation and visitation offered support for those less mobile and honour guards recognized the contributions of deceased members.

Presidents represented their councils at conventions, special masses, anniversaries and workshops, and most often used written and oral reports to summarize their council’s activities which were often transmitted via e-mail.

A growing interest in the resolutions process was registered with speakers and presentations on current resolutions particularly home care, hospice and palliative care, tissue donation, neonicotinoids, plastic microbeads, Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and labeling of food and drug products. Bills were monitored especially as they applied to medical assistance in dying. Petitions were signed and letters written. Rights of conscience became a burning issue. Government visits by provincial councils allowed members’ views to be expressed to elected representatives.

Councils reported that there were many challenges facing the League today—adjusting to technology, lack of access to technology, identifying leadership capabilities, accepting leadership roles, time constraints, lack of knowledge of the role of president, the amount of work involved, lack of funding to reimburse costs, in-complete executive teams and lack of support by spiritual advisors at parish level.

In spite of these challenges presidents affirmed the support and guidance offered by past presidents, life members, executive teams and members at large. Pride and empowerment exuded from the affirmation offered by every provincial president in reference to her members:
• “I am honoured…to be part of an organization with such a dy-namic group of ladies who believe in Christian values, social jus-tice, dignity of life and service to others” (Marie C. Rackley, New Brunswick).
• “Such marvelous works reflecting our love of the League and our enthusiasm to love and serve God and Canada” (Peggy MacNeil, Nova Scotia).
• “…review the annual reports…a clear demonstration of the variety and magnitude of how the Catholic women of our province have come together to help others, promote their spiritual devel-opment and live out the theme…” (Ruby Sharpe, Newfound-land and Labrador).
• “Members in Ontario welcome the opportunity to travel ‘new roads’…” (Pauline Krupa, Ontario).
• “We have so many ‘Martha and Mary’ women in our CWL par-ishes each using her talents to the best of her abilities…” (Jean Reader, Saskatchewan).
• “I am privileged to be part of this great sisterhood of faith-filled and industrious women…inspired me with their extraordinary vigour and compassion” (Evelyn Rigby, B.C. & Yukon).
• “…we go forward and spread love, peace and hope to everyone as we respond to God’s call” (Irene Gallant, Prince Edward Is-land).
• “…although we are small we are mighty and a force to be reck-oned with. We continue to grow” (Coreena Cole, Military Ordi-nariate).
• “…the Catholic Women’s League is a spiritual gift and a gift we use to develop our voice in this world…” (Cathy Bouchard, Al-berta Mackenzie).
• “…the many gifts and blessings will be a team that continues to be strengthened and the possibility of new collaboration” (In-grid LeFort, Quebec).
• “There is a groundswell of informed and active women in the CWL. We are a praying group of women that make a difference in our society…” (Faith Anderson, Manitoba – from her chair-person of legislation).

In the past year the following was achieved:
• The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) Velma’s Dream Project became a permanent national voluntary fund.
• The national online forum was deactivated.
Be League was recreated as “On the Spot.”
• Nineteen new national life members were approved.
• A day of action for palliative care was initiated and called “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care.”
• Police records checks were initiated for those with signing au-thority on the national executive and on staff.
• An electronic annual reporting process was initiated.
• Approval was given to support initiatives in Sierra Leone, Af-ghanistan and Haiti through the CCODP 1% Program.
• Meetings took place in June and November with government representatives, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and COLF to lobby for resolutions and promote the work of the League.
• Pre-planning stages were initiated for a strategic plan to take the League into its second century.

The annual national convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia, held in conjunction with the North American Regional Conference of WUCWO, was a resounding success. Powerful presentations (live streamed) were offered by Sr. John Mary (“Women of Mercy, United in One Heart, One Voice, One Mission”), Fr. James Mallon (“I Am a Mission on This Earth”) and Dr. Nuala Kenny (“Palliative Care”). Combined with powerful liturgies and a pilgrimage through the jubilee door at St. Mary’s Basilica, members were inspired and motivated.

Five resolutions were adopted:
Resolution 2016.01 Equal Access to Permanent Resident Status an Amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Resolution 2016.02 Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide
Resolution 2016.03 Warning Labels on Food and Drug Products for all Inactive Substances and Additives
Resolution 2016.04 Amend the Canada Health Act to Identify Palliative Care as an Insured Health Service.
Resolution 2016.05 Amend the Canada Health Act to Include Home Care as an Insured Health Service.

A letter was sent from the convention assembly to Catholic Health Association of Canada commending it on its efforts in advancing palliative care.

National council was represented at significant parish and diocesan anniversaries, several diocesan and provincial conventions, the National Council of Catholic Women’s convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, CCCB Plenary Session in Cornwall, Ontario, the WUCWO Conference in Bari, Italy (focusing on the women of the Middle East), the International Congress on Palliative Care, Palliative Care McGill, and CNEWA Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Monthly articles were written for Be League and later “On the Spot” as well as articles for The Canadian League and WUCWO publication Women’s Voice.