2016 Annual Report – Nova Scotia

August 17, 2017

Peggy MacNeil
Nova Scotia Provincial Council President
2016 Annual Report

Through the theme of One Heart, One Voice, One Mission: Palliative and Hospice Care, parish councils in Nova Scotia celebrated and supported the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy by hosting corporal and spiritual works of mercy activities. It was wonderful to read about the many examples of commitment and love for the League as councils spiritually nourished their members through rosaries, reflections, prayer services, guest speakers, hosting retreats and attending Life in the Spirit weekends. One council focused on one spiritual work of mercy at each monthly meeting. Councils hosted special celebrations to honour the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, where one council recited and sang the rosary of St. James, the saint of mercy. Many councils hosted “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care.” One council studied Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’. Several councils promoted websites and resources, as well as courses and programs to contribute to the faith enrichment of members. Members were active in their parishes, serving in various ministries and on parish and diocesan committees. Councils supported CMIC, Samaritan’s Purse, Christmas Daddies, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Our Lady of Grace Monastery. Reaching out to other faith denominations, invitations were extended to social functions and joint prayer services. Members participated in and promoted awareness of World Day of Prayer, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, WUCWO Annual Day of Prayer, Women’s Inter-church Council of Canada and the Fellowship of the Least Coin.

Annual reports presented some challenges as approximately 50% of councils participated. Reports indicated business at meetings was very important and needed to be balanced with activities that spiritually connected members. One hundred twenty five new members were recruited, and membership kits were distributed. Councils used a wide variety of approaches for member recruitment, including promotion through parish bulletins, presentations from the altar and participation in parish information and stewardship fairs. Finding the personal touch was by far the most effective. Several councils engaged new members through mentoring. Member recognition was important. Many councils embraced leadership training by at-tending workshops, conferences and conventions. Councils were encouraged to reach out to life members for support and to facilitate educational activities. Five members received life membership. Life members Florence Khattar and Therese Pottie passed away. A total of 64 members were lost; may they rest in peace.

Programs for family enrichment were promoted, where some councils acknowledged significant wedding anniversaries with masses and certificates. Others held membership in pro-life groups and participated in Life Chain and pro-life walks. Youth are a vital part of the church and were included in many council activities. Discernment events for the youth, catechesis, refugees, donations to Campaign Life, EPC and COLF were also supported, in addition to respite care, shelters, facilities and programs for youth at risk. Disabled persons were encouraged to take part in liturgical celebrations. Cards, gifts, prayer shawls, transportation, visits and socials were planned for seniors to help them feel connected. Several councils initiated educational awareness of Resolution 1996.03 Advanced Directives for Health Care and durable power of attorney as well as Resolution 1999.01 Elder Abuse/Assault Awareness. Councils supported vocations and hosted receptions for religious.

One council supported a travelling chalice/crucifix program. Members were given many opportunities for personal growth and spiritual renewal. Many continued to volunteer and uphold several programs, including CCODP’s Share Lent, Chalice and the Canadian Red Cross. Donations were made to indigenous women; those suffering from incarceration, bullying, domestic violence, homelessness or poverty; youth programs; food banks; and shelters. Members supported the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, CNIB, Food4Kids, the fire disaster fund for Fort McMurray, the flood disaster fund for Cape Breton, right to life, lunch programs, Save A Family Plan, social action, affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, domestic abuse shelters, violence prevention programs and Make-a-Wish® Canada. L’Arche Canada and the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign were also supported. Letter writing continued on various issues including elder abuse, affirmative action, anti-bullying programs, global accountability for registered Canadian mining companies and water in developing countries. Syrian refugee families were sponsored, providing housing, financial assistance and education. Friendships were formed, knowledge was gained and a sense of peace for refugees developed.

Councils were involved with or supported the religious process-taking at the parish level. Some members volunteered as instructors or coordinators for parish level family faith formation or religious education programs. Financial support was given to youth attending Steubenville Atlantic 2016 and World Youth Day in Poland, in addition to religious education in parishes. Some councils provided celebratory receptions in support of programs. Donations were made to breakfast and lunch programs, clothing drives, bursaries and scholarships, Coady, the League’s National Bursary Fund, NET Ministries of Canada, Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), Birthright International, Project Rachel, MaterCare International, Canadian Mental Health Association and Operation Smile Canada. Councils supported, monitored and encouraged parental participation in schools and parish activities, particularly family life pro-grams. Members continued to proactively monitor and address many medical and health care issues that created discontent and division throughout the membership by writing letters and providing financial support. Others continued to follow with interest and were proud to express support or disapproval of existing bills. Guest speakers made presentations on the subject of hospice and palliative care and addressed issues such as avoiding food preservatives, recycling and pollution.

It was important that all councils had a voice in communicating their achievements. The national, provincial and diocesan websites remained popular and members were encouraged to visit the League on Facebook. Be League was also a most popular resource used by councils and the newsletter was shared among members within councils. Most councils subscribed to Catholic periodicals, newspapers or magazines. Mass for Shut-ins was supported by over 78% of councils reporting. It was heartening to see that most councils expressed an interest in live stream viewing of the keynote speakers from the annual national convention. League events were promoted through newsletters, bulletins, inserts, websites, telephone committees, newspapers and radio. Members also monitored television viewing and use of Internet. Pornography Hurts post-cards were well received with some councils sending them more than once.

Councils wanted to remain informed about issues at the different levels of government and remained active in bringing an awareness of past and current resolutions. Some members read up on bills presented to the House of Commons and attended public forums, lectures and town hall meetings, sharing what they had learned. Members were unanimous in their support of the League’s response to the Federal Consultation on Legislative Options for Assisted Dying.

Annual reports indicated a growing interest in the resolutions process. To assist members in formulating resolutions, a new pamphlet entitled, “The Four Seasons of a Resolution” was created and is available on the provincial website. Two resolutions were adopted at the provincial convention. Resolution 2016.01 To Improve Access to Oral Health Care for Nova Scotia Seniors was presented and discussed as well as other health related issues pertaining to provincial resolutions at the annual meeting with the minister of health and wellness. Resolution 2016.02 To Improve Access to Oral Health Care for the Vulnerable People in Canada was not approved for presentation at the annual national convention. A provincial committee was established to monitor and possibly revamp this resolution.

The two diocesan councils used various methods to restore and preserve history and records through a history book, labelled photo album, digital and paper sources. Resources such as the Constitution & Bylaws and National Manual of Policy and Procedure served as references. A policy and procedure supplement in just over 50% of councils provided consistency and understanding in operating a parish council. Staying involved, supporting and mentoring were essential elements for all councils and future leadership.

Such marvelous works reflected Nova Scotia Provincial Council’s love for the League and members’ enthusiasm to love and serve “For God and Canada.”