2019 Annual Report – Quebec
Quebec Provincial President
The highlight of my first year as president was working with the most amazing group of women at the national table and with the executive of the provincial council. I was very grateful to the members of the provincial executive for their dedication and hard work, especially the secretary-treasurer who was the core of communications, and the spiritual advisor who was the guiding light on members’ spiritual journey.
Provincial executive members, including the president, had close communications with their national counterpart and were grateful for the help and guidance they received.
Many members attended the 99th annual national convention, where the presentation of the 100th annual national convention was offered by the provincial council, many of whom were involved in planning for the 2020 national convention.
Twelve of 18 parish councils reported; however, some chairpersons of standing committees did not report. Ongoing concerns were maintaining parish councils, membership and finding members willing to serve as officers in the different standing committees. Most members were 55 years of age or older. Some parish councils needed help with procedural issues and resolving internal issues.
A provincial workshop day was organized by the chairperson of organization. Topics covered included The League of the Future—Year 1, 2020 national convention, Care for Our Common Home, and resolutions revisited. Evaluations revealed the day was a huge success and members expressed an interest in more leadership training. Presentation of The League of the Future—Year 1 to as many parish councils as possible was planned.
Many members needed support to help them participate in the annual report surveys and to write annual reports. Parish councils that had not written annual reports for several years needed guidance on how to do so. Some parish councils felt the only requirement was the annual report survey.
Materials most frequently used were the Constitution & Bylaws, National Manual of Policy and Procedure, Executive Handbook, Handbook for Organization Chairpersons, and The Catholic Women’s League of Canada Plans Strategically 2018-2022. The Canadian League and national communiqués were read and used to inspire, motivate and educate.
Members enjoyed fundraising, social events, spiritual activities and attending meetings. They were encouraged to attend conventions at all levels.
Membership recruiting and renewing was done using different forms of communication such as e-mail, personal contact and telephone calls, and also by awarding pins and certificates. Thirty-three new members joined, of which nearly 60% were less than 40 years old. The total number of members as of December 31, 2019 was 837.
Provincial council donations were distributed as follows: national voluntary funds ($1,425), standing committees ($27,484), parish donations ($12,637) and other donations ($1,236) for a total of $42,782.
Some parish councils did not have secretaries and so the president or someone from the executive took the minutes.
The national theme, Care for Our Common Home, was acted on. Parish councils banned the use of Styrofoam cups and bottled water. Members began composting programs, reduced plastic use and worked on home water management.
Members played an active and valuable role in the parish. Some ministered to the sick and provided education on palliative care and issues surrounding euthanasia. Some reported outreach to their community through an invitation to pray. Some parish councils had members on the parish liturgy committee. Parish councils sponsored masses in honour of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel. One parish council discussed the topic of bioethics, regarding the link between Catholic teaching and birth control.
The Ceremonies Booklet, CWL Prays booklet and the Word Among Us were the most common resources for developing liturgies and spiritual programs. Few spiritual advisors attended parish council meetings. Parish councils without spiritual advisors relied on the chairperson of spiritual development for spiritual enlightenment.
The provincial council co-hosted two retreats at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in collaboration with the Holy Cross Fathers. For the Lent retreat, Forgiveness: The Key to Heaven, the preacher was the rector, Father Claude Grou, CSC, who was recovering from being assaulted by an individual armed with a knife. For the Advent retreat, Partaking in the Kingdom of God, the preacher was Fr. Nicholas Sengson, SVD.
The provincial life member liaison was in close communication with the 15 life members, and advised parish councils of any concerns, ideas and suggestions they had, as well as prayer requests they made. Four life members were involved with the 2020 convention committee. Three candidates were presented to the national executive/board for nomination to life membership.
Several parish councils reported promoting World Youth Day, participation in programs for young people and religious education programs for children, support to organize a Catholic Girls’ League and Knights of Columbus youth programs. Members served as hospitality ushers, and participated in parish choirs.
Most parish councils reported members helped with memorial services and funeral lunches, prayed and supported widowers after the death of a spouse, and visited and sent cards to the widowed. They also participated in prayers for vocations.
All parish councils reported accessing the national website, cwl.ca. Other media platforms used were Facebook and Twitter. Church bulletins, e-mails and local media were used to advertise council activities and events, while telephone committees were used to communicate with members. Pornography, human trafficking and pro-life issues were topics of discussion during meetings. Some parish councils participated in distributing Pornography Hurts postcards. Members recommended adding an adequate search function to the national website.
Every parish council participated in the HUG Project and gave packages to the needy. Many members were involved in the parish catechesis of children. As schools are non-denominational, parishes took care of Catholic education programs. There was participation in adult faith education and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program.
Members actively monitored a new sex education program introduced by the provincial government that was not based on church teaching. Technological literacy was promoted in some councils. One member pursued a Catholic leadership training course with help from the National Bursary Fund. Parish councils invited guest speakers on mental health and participated in “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care.”
At the provincial convention a resolution was adopted on the need for services for severe/classic autistic people over the age of 20. Parish councils were encouraged to write letters to the provincial government, and raise funds to support those living with autism and their families. Interactive workshops, PowerPoints and other resource material were made available to members to provide information about the resolutions process. Members signed petitions and wrote letters to federal and provincial government officials. Some members attended and participated in the resolutions dialogue session at the national convention.
In reference to Resolution 2019.02 Canadian Support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, some parish councils monitored government responses and provided information on the hazards of nuclear warfare. Some parish councils monitored provincial Bill 22: An Act respecting the Laicity of the State. The bill prohibited certain persons from wearing religious symbols while exercising their duties. Lack of involvement with government and fear of the legislative process seemed to impede greater involvement by councils.
A majority of parish councils supported a large range of groups, primarily through donation of funds and time. Domestic violence shelters were well supported financially and with supplies, toiletries, gifts and food. One parish council worked on a project related to Indigenous people’s rights. Some members were involved in a coalition against human trafficking. Parish councils cared for those in need by donating to local food banks and organizing fundraisers. One diocesan council organized a Christmas parcel drive where shoeboxes were filled and a Christmas card was attached, then distributed to seafarers through Mariners’ House of Montreal. Members participated in the Canada Day parade, the poppy campaign and Remembrance Day.
Members sent Christmas greetings to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Valentine’s Day cards to veterans. One parish council funded a refugee family applying for citizenship. Share Lent was supported. Members were kept informed of the League’s stance on the commitment to Development and Peace—Caritas Canada’s 1% Program.
Parish councils supported Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group, Chalice, Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, Canadian Red Cross and Operation Christmas Child. One diocesan council continued to send financial support to an orphanage for disabled women in India, Bhavan Vimala. Helping men’s shelters, women’s shelters, school breakfast clubs, leadership programs for at-risk teenage girls, and visiting and making telephone calls to shuts in were some of the many activities. One parish council fundraised for an Inuit village in Kuujjuarapik and collected bathing suits for girls.
Only 33% of parish councils viewed the strategic planning presentation. They were encouraged to invite the provincial executive to present this workshop. As the five year plan unfolds, the provincial executive hoped to continue to help councils stay “in-the-know” and to be inspired by the League’s progress into the future.