2017 Annual Report – National Chairperson of Community Life
National Chairperson of Community Life
2017 Annual Report
Poverty: Sarah Guinta
Catholic Near East Welfare Association: Life Member Anne Plaunt
The community life standing committee is a call to action by obeying the spirit of the law of Jesus to serve one another. Reports from parish councils conveyed amazing works done “For God and Canada”. Some parish councils did not have a chairperson of community life; however, the wonderful works that fall under this standing committee were still done by members.
Dignity and Rights of Persons
Members worked for the betterment of humanity and themselves by standing up for the dignity that belongs to all. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has served humanity for 70 years and parish councils took steps to become more familiar with it. The areas of highest support undertaken related to those suffering from poverty caused by homelessness, domestic violence, human trafficking, incarceration, racism and bullying.
Through workshops and presentations with guest speakers, members became aware of programs dealing with affordable housing, drop-in centres, homeless and emergency shelters, domestic abuse shelters, employment and skills training, single parent resources, restorative justice and violence prevention. In a stand to stop violence against women, members participated in the Take Back the Night vigil.
Members knit scarves, caps, socks and gloves for homeless programs. Members volunteered at soup kitchens, emergency centres for homeless, thrift stores benefiting victims of violence, food banks and prison ministry. One parish council’s unique activity included making bandages, diapers and receiving blankets from old sheets for Canadian Food for Children.
In response to the action plans of resolutions, members were encouraged to write letters to local government officials and invite guest speakers to address the concern in the resolution. Members recognized the importance of work still to be done on resolutions not yet archived.
Members extended a hand of friendship to Indigenous peoples and invited Indigenous sisters to speak at meetings. Workshops and information sessions were hosted on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous sisters. Parish councils donated clothing, hats, mittens and scarves knitted for school children in First Nations northern communities and to the North of 60 Project of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
As an expression of unity, members attended or participated in events such as the KAIROS blanket exercise, mass on the federal government’s National Aboriginal Day, Walking with Our Sisters’ Commemorative Art Installation, powwows, the Sisters in Spirit campaign, Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Faceless Doll Project 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 Indigenous women.
To achieve a better understanding of the strife of Indigenous women, members participated in sharing circles and a walk for awareness, and worked with Indigenous women who were incarcerated and those recovering from cancer treatments at a healing lodge. Significant support was given to organizations assisting Indigenous peoples through restorative justice programs.
Parish councils monitored governmental responses to Resolution 2017.01 Full Implementation of the Supreme Court Decision in R. v. Gladue for Indigenous Offenders. Letters were written and sent to the prime minister and other ministers to ensure judges, lawyers and legal personnel used Gladue reports in correctional decision making and before the sentencing of Indigenous offenders.
Social and Economic Justice
Parish councils attended workshops relating to social and economic justice and participated in the work of organizations caring for those in need. The highest level of financial support was given to emergency shelters for those experiencing domestic abuse, food banks and food hampers. The outpouring of generosity continued as members: gave supplies to women’s, men’s and children’s shelters and orphanages; supported, cooked and served meals at local drop-in centres; and prepared Christmas baskets and hampers.
Members responded with compassion by giving of themselves and their time to community organizations like soup kitchens, food banks, thrift shops, transition homes, community clothing drives and depots, community gardens, anti-poverty foundations/campaigns, nursing homes, Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels. Members participated with the online forms for the Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and supported Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty free Canada.
Refugees, Immigration and Citizenship
Members educated themselves about the difference between temporary foreign workers, immigrants and refugees. Parish councils monitored the federal government’s response to Resolution 2016.011 Equal Access to Permanent Resident Status, an Amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Parish councils invited guest speakers to inform members about Canada’s official immigration and refugee policies to gain insight into the needs of immigrants and refugees in the community. Members sponsored families, highlighted the refugee crisis in Syria, joined refugee committees, supported refugee employment services, provided financial assistance for food and rent, provided transportation, assisted with Citizenship Court by sponsoring a lunch and attended citizenship ceremonies.
As all Canadians observed the 150th birthday of Canada, members celebrated in various ways. They participated in “150 things to do” or donated 150 items to local drop-in centres or organizations in developing countries. Some members were torch bearers.
In appreciation of past and present Canadian troops, members participated in Remembrance Day services, hugely supported The Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign, wore red on Fridays and assisted with the needs of the Military family resource centres.
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Development and Peace was supported by most parish councils through the 1% Program. At council meetings contributions were made, speakers from Development and Peace were invited and the League’s slide presentation was shown. Development and Peace was also supported by: encouraging membership and various activities; promoting the Women at the Heart of Change campaign, Share Lent, disaster relief funds and THINKFast; and collecting postage stamps.
Through parish councils, members supported many international organizations with monetary donations, awareness and prayer. Some organizations supported were Chalice, Pennies for the Poor, Save a Family Plan, Call of the Poor, Child Care International, Doctors Without Borders, Don Bosco Missions, Free The Children, Holy Childhood Association, Canadian Red Cross, Operation Eyesight International, Servant’s Heart Ministries, Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group, Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse, Days for Girls International, World Vision, leprosy relief (knit and crocheted bandages for lepers), mats for beds made from plastic milk bags and the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in Africa. One parish council made 108 dresses for African girls. Members participated in a mission trip to Nicaragua bringing water to 47 homes. Generosity continued as members collected mitts, clothing, hats, scarves, blankets, food, money, pop tabs, milk bags for mats and used stamps.
Parish councils became aware of child labour laws in developing countries with an understanding of the implications of trade laws and practices. Members were encouraged to be vigilant regarding purchases that may exploit child labour or sweatshops. Guest speakers from developing countries were invited to attend meetings to explain and clarify situations in their homeland.
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) was promoted with brochures and supported in councils. Parish councils donating to CNEWA supported Christian families in the Holy Land. Two projects being supported were the Infant Welfare Centre in Jerusalem which provides critical support to at-risk teenagers for them to stay in school and The Shepherd’s Field Hospital in Beit Sahour which provides health care to the poorest mothers and babies, near Bethlehem.
The community life standing committee showed how faith becomes powerful and accomplishes marvellous deeds when joined to the immense outpouring of service as members fulfilled the theme, Inspired by the Spirit, Women Respond to God’s Call. By giving their time, talent and generous donations, many deeds were accomplished over the past year.