2017 Annual Report – National President and Chairperson of International Relations

September 21, 2018

Margaret Ann Jacobs
National President and Chairperson of International Relations
2017 Annual Report

The national theme, Inspired by the Spirit, Women Respond to God’s Call was truly reflected in the phenomenal outreach members of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada provided in their communities, provinces and abroad. The dedication, pride and joy of members were evidenced in all annual reports.

Provincially, the percentage reporting ranged from 45-84. Ontario Provincial Council proudly boasted two diocesan councils with 100% completion rate. It is hoped diocesan and provincial presidents will use the extensive statistical feedback to analyze current trends and mould programs for the future.

Presidents at all levels represented the League in the best possible way and modelled what the League believes. Duties of the president are varied with their activities outlined below.

Members were enlightened by information primarily from The Canadian League magazine, diocesan newsletters and national communiques. Other sources of information included national, provincial and diocesan websites, newsletters, parish bulletins as well as Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) and Google searches.

The most noted national priorities acted on through presentations, discussions and speakers included palliative care, physician assisted suicide, limiting access to pornography, conscience rights of health care providers, refugee crisis, home care and youth mental health.

In order to foster open communication, over 50% of parish council presidents met monthly with spiritual advisors, with over 90% reporting their spiritual advisor was supportive of the League. It was noted having moral support of the spiritual advisor made a significant difference in vitality of the council, even if time constraints prevented regular attendance at meetings.

Resources most used by presidents included the Constitution & Bylaws, parish council manuals of policy and procedure and the Executive Handbook, with the National Manual of Policy and Procedure, Parliamentary Procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order also providing assistance in presiding at meetings.

Documents most cited requiring signing authority were cheques and banking documents. Letters directed within and outside the League and petitions were also signed by the president.

Parish council presidents capably provided active leadership representing councils at church functions, diocesan meetings and conventions, funerals, special masses, World Day of Prayer, fundraising events, conferences, workshops, regional meetings, sacramental events, school ceremonies, anniversaries, provincial meetings and conventions, retreats, Remembrance Day services and pro-life events. Few presidents met with politicians. Only 12% of presidents attended national convention. Although 60% of parish councils paid for presidents to attend diocesan conventions, presidents paid their own expenses to attend conferences, fundraising dinners, workshops, and provincial and national conventions. What an attestation to their commitment to enhance learning and skills!

Of the 823 respondents, 349 new policies were initiated for inclusion in council manuals of policy and procedure. Do access diocesan and provincial annual reports for ideas and suggestions.

To keep executives informed, most presidents used the Executive Handbook and provided either an oral or written report at their annual meeting.

Other committees where the president serves in an advisory capacity included annual events (teas, bazaars…), social events, fundraising, scholarships and bursaries, visitation, donations and catering.

Presidents served as official spokesperson for membership, council social events, local charitable projects, palliative care, scholarships/bursaries, euthanasia, pro-life issues and anti-pornography. League letterhead was most often used and only membership for the council represented was referenced in external correspondence.

The greatest assistance for the president in her role was attributed to immediate and former past presidents and current executive with specific reference to the secretary and treasurer.

In transitioning into the role of president, the greatest challenges faced included keeping members interested, not having a full slate of officers, amount of paperwork, recruiting, time commitment involved and technological change.
Phenomenal, vastly unique and life-changing projects were reported as women embraced their call to service. The personal rewards were reflected in these comments:
• “As a first time, first year president, I have had exceptional back-up, information, assistance and over all positive feedback. I am definitely part of a team of women that I love and respect. Go us!”
• “The council I have the great pleasure to work with are an outstanding group of women. Every meeting they take my breath away with their zeal and imaginative good works. This is all done with devout and reverent gentleness. I am so proud to be a member of this group.”

Recommendations:
• hold mentoring sessions
• provide training modules for councils
• save files to flash drives
• keep running lists of activities (past and future)

As national president, I was privileged to attend conventions, anniversaries, gala dinners, receptions, development days, conferences and VisionTV masses on members’ behalf. Other events included: a COLF seminar in Gatineau, Quebec (Sex, Gender and Ideology); National Council of Catholic Women conference in Dallas, Texas (Catholic Women: Living the Joy of the Gospel); CCCB plenary assembly in Cornwall, Ontario; CCCB forum for national Catholic movements and associations meeting in Chateauguay, Quebec (Co-workers in the vineyard); and a Catholic Missions In Canada trip to Fort Alexander’s Sagkeeng First Nation. Articles were contributed for The Canadian League, On the Spot and Women’s Voice (World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization).

Extraordinary efforts were made to promote quality, universal hospice palliative care though “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”. This initiative continued for a second year with national focus also being placed on mental health.

Preparation for the League’s 100th anniversary in 2020 focused activity on the creation of lap quilts which were donated to local hospices.

At the invitation of the CCCB, the League appointed Life Member Colleen Martin to participate in Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle, a partnership in the spirit of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people.

Formal approval was given at the winter meeting of the national executive to begin the process of planning strategically for an envisioned future for the League. The “presidents three” (National Past President Barbara Dowding, National President Margaret Ann Jacobs, and National President-Elect Anne Gorman) with Executive Director Kim Scammell, plus Ontario Provincial Past President Pauline Krupa, Quebec Provincial Past President Ingrid LeFort, Vancouver Diocesan Past President Roxanne McDonald and Honorary Life Member Danielle McNeil-Hessian formed the steering committee. Donna Dunn, Tecker International, was hired as consultant. Extensive preparation with research and consultation took place, including a town hall session at national convention and presentation at provincial/diocesan executive meetings formulating draft vision, mission, values, goals, objectives and critical issues which were presented to the national executive. Approval was given at the fall national executive meeting to accept draft documents. Following the meeting, sub-committees were struck to develop strategies to meet each of the 17 objectives or critical issues.

The 97th annual national convention in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island attracted over 750 members and guests. Speakers included Ken Yasinski (“Becoming a Living Thank You” and “A Catholic Identity Crisis”), Dr. Reginald Bibby (current state of Catholic Christianity in Canada) and Dr. June Webber, Director of Coady International Institute, Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The program also included a live stream of the town hall session with facilitator Donna Dunn and a presentation by the planning strategically steering committee. It truly was an historic moment. East coast hospitality and entertainment, live feedback during the town hall and a prayer service for the presentation of lap quilts were highlights of an exceptional convention.

It is with pride and gratitude that I acknowledge all faith-filled, dedicated efforts by members across this great country who continue to demonstrate love and compassion to affect positive change in the world. For indeed, Inspired by the Spirit, Women Respond to God’s Call.