96th annual national convention — highlights[print_link]
National Spiritual Advisor William McGrattan
The role of the national spiritual advisor provides me with a unique perspective on the work of the League. Spiritual advisors, whether they are at the diocesan or provincial level, draw their experience from the parish level. The same is true of the national spiritual advisor who is a “shepherd among shepherds,” and who comes to perceive the CWL and its work, although national in scope, from the parish or the bottom up. This is the common experience that unites all the spiritual advisors who serve at the parish, diocesan, provincial and national levels.
It is from this perspective that all of the spiritual advisors affirm and delight in the witness, mission and identity of the CWL which is so vital and critical in the life of every parish. In this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the fruits and external signs of the CWL within many parishes is expressed most tangibly in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. As Pope Francis says, “The beating Heart of the Gospel is Mercy,” and so we could say, “The beating Heart of the Parish is works of mercy undertaken by The Catholic Women’s League of Canada.”
However, if I was to cast my gaze to the future as a shepherd or sentinel, I must also point out the challenges that face the CWL at all levels. The first is the temptation to accomplish everything. There is a spiritual maxim that says “perfection is the enemy of the good.” Perhaps as the membership continues to decline at each level, there will be the expectation that you maintain past practices, activities, and structures and thus try to do too much when in fact it is more prudent to “let go” of what might bind councils in fulfilling an unreasonable mantra—we have done it this way all the time! Now is the time to focus on promoting leadership, of inviting and empowering new women to assume roles of leadership and thus to introduce new ways of thinking—education and mentoring need to become the focus of the future, and not necessarily membership and doing things that the CWL has done in the past.
This leads into the second challenge which is one of engagement—of inviting other women in the parish to one with the CWL without the burden of joining or becoming a member. This speaks to the “principle of gradualness,” to welcome women without the expectation of membership. To allow them to come gradually to know the hidden gem of being Catholic women and seeing the witness of this lay association in the life of the church and the country of Canada. It will also require the League to be creative in this engagement at the parish level and to try new strategies of outreach to women; that is spiritual, educational, artistic and steeped in hospitality. It may also require a strategy of “profiling,” of seeking out younger women, those from other countries and cultures than Canada. This welcome might not necessarily begin at the parish level but at the diocesan, provincial and national levels.
A third challenge is not to allow the “how” of the CWL to overshadow, obscure or dominate the “why” of the CWL. The bylaws, policies and procedures of the CWL are important; however, the eight Objects of the League should be the compass that charts the course of the CWL in the future. As Fr. James Mallon stated, “The CWL should not drift to the centre but to the peripheries,” and it is the Objects that must always be the priority of the CWL at each level. Structures and standing committees serve the mission of the CWL, which is to work toward the eight League Objects.
Finally, change in the church or any organization is always difficult; sometimes change is necessary. In looking to the future, the CWL is being called to adapt, either by the circumstances it will face from necessity, but, hopefully, because this impetus to change will strengthen the CWL in the church and Canada. It will require “careful and prudent discernment” on the part of the CWL at each level to see the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to ensure that the values of the gospel and the teachings of the church are always the work and witness of the League.
The current theme One Voice, One Heart, One Mission can serve to be the catalyst for this change and to invite the women of the CWL to be affirmed in their vital role of women in the church.
National President Barbara Dowding
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Who should I send?” And He sent us!
From the tiniest rural parish council to the parish councils with more than 200 members, all are getting things done. The hearts of women in the League are truly filled with compassion, the works of mercy both spiritual and corporal undertaken from sea to sea. There is no doubt about their love and dedication to the League, to their parishes, and to the people who need them. You have heard all the reports. Remarkable, isn’t it?
Needless to say, I am preaching to the converted, but I believe it is critical that we remind ourselves of the great need to “go tell everyone” of this great gift which we call The Catholic Women’s League of Canada.
Clearly, across the country, our hearts are burning with zeal. Just like the first apostles, members have hearts on fire for good and have embraced the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Everywhere I went, I heard stories of members visiting the sick and volunteering in palliative and hospice care centres, and the genuine desire to be the face of mercy to others.
This year it was only planes and automobiles for me, no trains! I was delighted beyond all measure to attend conventions from coast to coast both provincial and diocesan, hearing first hand of the great work being accomplished, meeting members who may never otherwise have the chance to talk to a national president and having a chance to experience League life in so many different ways. What a blessing this has been for me. You have such hearts for hospitality and encounter! I was hugged, welcomed, treated royally and loved beyond all telling!
“…Filled with mercy, compassion and holiness.” I heard stories of forgiveness, kindness and of mercy—stories of little miracles, really. By reaching another’s heart, we touch the heart of God.
I even rented a car to get to the Hearst and Timmins annual diocesan conventions on the same weekend and was patting myself on the back for driving a whole two hours one way. Well, yes, you can well imagine the laughter when I told those women who regularly drive six, eight even 12 hours to get to a meeting without batting an eyelash. It is obviously all relative, isn’t it?
Travels included attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, the National Council of Catholic Women’s convention in Orlando, Florida, and the plenary assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cornwall, Ontario. I can tell you truly that the League is respected and held in high esteem as an integral part of the church in Canada. The bishops not only value our voice but recognize our heart for the other and encourage us to continue being the voice so sorely needed at the government level. You will be pleased to know we are moving toward a new and more collaborative relationship with the bishops of Canada and have the interest and support of the apostolic nuncio to Canada. Women have always been the strength of the church and always will be. It is who we are and what we do best, and it is even more important at this point that we work together for the good of all.
I was blessed to undertake two personal journeys including one to the Philippines for the International Eucharistic Congress and a pilgrimage with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association to the Holy Land, with a chance to see Velma’s Dream projects first hand. It is indescribable, really. I was overcome with emotion more than once, but particularly on the day we walked the walk Mary would have on the way to greet her cousin Elizabeth. It was a profound moment standing there with my sisters in the League and on the very day that had been designated a day in the life of a CWL member! What encounters we had that day and on that trip. These extra trips only helped to solidify my conviction of our place in the world and our value as women to the church. It is one more reason why we are so blessed to be associated with the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations—the world is much bigger than Canada.
As 2016 dawned, we launched the palliative and hospice care addition to our theme, which you have heard reported many times. What a wonderful opportunity we had and still have during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. From prayer to parliament, our voice must be heard, indeed!
Our collective heart was broken with the recent legislation and promotion of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. So many women told of how in the volunteering, visiting the sick and walking with someone who was dying, they saw far too many people who had no one to care for or visit them. It was a constant, clear observation. No wonder people choose death if life is so bleak and lonely.
We talked this year about the door of mercy and how open doors signify welcome, shelter, comfort and often a passageway to a better place. We acknowledged how closed doors, shut tight in fear or anxiety, present obstacles, barriers and a sense of foreboding, creating even more doors and higher walls. I believe we, the League, have been working hard to change things. By knocking on closed doors and opening them wide, we will welcome more and more to come in. Like the early church, we are to look outward, ensuring no one is in want, whether physical, spiritual or in any other way. We are called to be more welcoming in our parishes, to share the good things we have and to invite those who may not always be invited. Like Pope Francis does, how can we do any less? Without judgment, he says!
With spring came conventions (spring being a relative term). In April, as I landed in Timmins heading to Hearst, I had been thinking spring until I saw the frozen waters and snow drifts. It shows how sheltered I am living on the west coast!
From coast to coast and back again, to the provincial councils of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, B.C. & Yukon, Manitoba and Ontario, to the diocesan councils of Hearst, Timmins, Hamilton, Regina and Peterborough, I saw communities working together to provide hospice care centres or homes, heard speakers and saw presentations on this most important issue. As the need becomes more and more obvious that the answer to the evils of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is hospice and palliative care, it will need to be provided by faith-based and/or community groups. When people know there is a place to be cared for, comfortable and connected, it changes the experience of dying. Is this a new mission for the League?
Finding ways to ensure no one lives or dies alone is what we can and do to be the face of Christ in the world. I know I have said this before, but when the League began it was to minister to immigrant women, to answer a need and, over the years, the League has offered much as the times required. Maybe the time has come to find, build or run hospice homes! If not our own, we can become part of the movement to make sure we have enough. Imagine what we could do!
Our common voice should be one of praise and thanksgiving. With one voice we will announce the Good News of the gospel beginning with our own personal conversion of heart. This is our call, our faith and our duty as Catholic women.
Pope Francis reminds us in speaking of the importance of women, that it is time the church valued the immense contribution of lay and religious women, and suggesting the church could not afford to stay mired in the old ways. We too must be aware that it is important to be open to change and sometimes to even step outside of that comfortable box! The Holy Father asks us to break down barriers, not put up walls. Even our speakers this week challenged us to do likewise, to be brave to do something different.
The Holy Father says a more widespread and incisive female presence in the church is desirable. So many more women can be involved in pastoral responsibilities, in the accompaniment of a person’s families and groups as well as in theological reflections.
Without going crazy over the announcement of a committee to study women’s diaconate, we can surely applaud the pope for this bold move which is sure, at the very least, to raise the bar in terms of where women belong.
Last year I spoke about a pending crisis of faith in our country. Little did we realize where we would be today facing unprecedented challenges and assaults on religious freedom and human dignity so soon and so severe. And I fear it has only just begun.
We pray for a holy courage to see the new path, to go outside our comfort zone, to embrace new ideas. Standing on the solid ground of our faith and the shoulders of our forbearers in the League, we can shape the future. Our voice must at one and the same time be prophetic.
The League is a great example of forethought and being prophetic. Finding ways to empower women to be transformative is but one example of taking the future into our own hands!
In a recent talk, our own Bishop McGrattan reminded us to be authentic, to be proud of who we are and to accept that we have the power of service and a connection to those in power. He urged us to focus on the mission to evangelize; to leave old wounds, hurts and divisions behind; to lead with Jesus Christ; and to not be afraid to wake up the world!
The League is in the forefront and will continue to take the lead on these important signs of our times. We need to make bold plans for the future, facing the changing face of our Catholic women squarely. We have a big ship, and it takes a bit of time to change course, but if the mission is clear, and it is, we will steer the ship in the right direction.
Our mission continues. Witnessing to the Good News of the gospel through personal encounter and joyful service, encounters that help us answer that call, to say, “Yes, Here I am Lord.”
We have everything we need to carry it out. God has provided each of us with the gifts and talents to ensure the church lives on, thrives and is the sign for others that the mission is possible. Fr. James Mallon reminded us of our mission, to be the mission, the salt of the earth, the people who will take the church from maintenance to mission. The League cannot afford to accept the status quo if we really want to grow and be an integral part of the parish and the future of the church.
Recent studies (Canada’s Catholics) indicate there are a wealth of caring and faithful women of all ages who need to know we really do have a place for them, and there are just as many other women who need help to find and accept their role and responsibility to the church, whether within or outside of the League.
My experience over the past two years adds to my hope for the League. I have seen and heard a great deal of interest from young professional women seeking to serve.
New and not so new members tell me they want to be part of this great organization, but they have different schedules, needs and time restraints. They are willing to help the rest of us adapt. They are knocking on the door. Will it open? Will we welcome them in and ensure they have an opportunity to learn from and experience what we all take for granted—the deep spirituality, community and sisterhood beyond all measure? We cannot leave them in isolation either!
We have a responsibility to not only grow membership but, more importantly, to invest in our women, to ensure our parish councils are inclusive and examples of what Pope Francis envisions as places of sanctuary, safety and community. As a grassroots organization, it is imperative that our councils are an open, welcoming and integral part of parish life.
This is not rhetoric or nice words or just something to say. It is a call to action, a rallying call, if you will.
The national executive always has and will always support Catholic women in building up the Catholic church. One only has to look at the recent and even distant past to realize this. Leadership has called us to reach out in so many ways using specific themes over the years to help us realize our goals, from the League – A Journey into Stewardship to Our Stewardship in Church Renewal to Woman – Sharing in the Life and Mission of the Church. We also had Parish – A Family of the Local Church. Some themes spanned more than one president’s term, like Rooted in gospel values, calling its members to holiness, through service to the people of God – a six year focus on our mission. We had People of God, a time for healing and People of God: A Time for Celebration. More recently, there was cast out into the deep, companions on the journey, Love One Another, Women of Peace and Hope and Centred on Faith & Justice. Then we saw the Lord and went forward with One Heart, One Voice, One Mission. All these call us to be the best we can be, to be the holy ones, the visionaries, the prophets in our own times. How will we respond from here?
As a national organization we are committed, dedicated and passionate. As a grassroots organization we are determined to listen and adapt, to change and pay attention to the signs of the times. It is precisely because of our structure that we have the ability to be the voice for Catholics, to speak the truth in the public square. The structure is the vehicle that carries the concerns about social justice, inequalities and other concerns from the grassroots (parish) where people live and experience the need for change. Without the structure we lose that voice.
However, being bound by structure is like working in handcuffs and another issue to be addressed and considered. Again, as Pope Francis does, we might loosen the hold when it impedes the purpose. If Pope Francis can challenge the structures in the Vatican, I am sure we could in the League.
The League is blessed with so many good and holy women who forged new paths, opened doors and blazed new trails. We have only to look at our earliest beginnings to see how bold and prophetic those pioneers were.
Our first national president Bellelle Guerin said, “Each of us in our own place doing that which comes to our hand, finding the needs, all our united strength. Shoulder to shoulder; heart to heart, she said, so close we will hear each other’s heartbeats.”
As members we are well placed to lead anew. As women in the church who have had a personal encounter with the risen Lord in one way or another, we are called to be a presence in the church and in the world, to accept our duty and privilege, as Catholic women and to realize our full potential to safeguard humanity and make the world a better place!
Having said “yes”, we go forward, doing whatever He tells us. Let us be the mission and wake up the world!
Thank you. It has been the best two years ever. Thank you for your support and prayers, for believing in me and for all you do to make the League what it is today. It has been an honour, a privilege, a joy and the most amazing experience one could ever imagine. Know how much I believe in you!
National President-Elect Margaret Ann Jacobs
Brava to the dedicated provincial and diocesan organization chairpersons for the varied and unique ways you provided educational opportunities for training and enrichment. Glowing reports confirm their value and affirm the need to continue this leadership development.
Our challenge as League is to find a way to turn information into transformation.
The Catholic Women’s League has a wealth of information: resource manuals, training handbooks, workshops, programs and many talented and energetic members who are willing and able to animate and facilitate. Monies are available for diocesan and provincial councils to provide development opportunities for all members to learn and grow. But today, parish councils struggle to recruit and maintain membership, to deliver the type of leadership development that is needed to entice members to accept leadership roles and to provide the resource material appropriate to educate our members. We love to celebrate achievements with awards for dedicated service with a number of new service pins available and to acclaim life members to further our mandate. That is rewarding and fun!
All agree that a real transformation is needed. Past research findings from professional marketing firms, interviews and surveys all confirm that there is a need for change, revitalization, refocusing and persistence. The connecting pillars which all members agree are our greatest assets are our desire to develop our faith, have fun and feel and sense of fulfillment. All research supports the premise that this transformation must be parish based. Catholic women are looking for faith-based opportunities for social interaction, personal enrichment and community service.
At national level, programs have been developed under the premise that these will reach out to our members at the parish level. Parish mailings have focused on ideas to enrich activity and participation. Hospitality and gratitude play an essential role with encouragement and affirmation the hallmarks of our interactions. Our theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission has highlighted our need to reach out in mercy, compassion and caring to one another and the larger community. Members look for momentum to be established at the national level but still allow for local autonomy.
At the parish level, executives need to be bold, innovative and creative. Reach out not only to members but non-members as well. Gauge success on engagement and not on meeting attendance or membership. If Catholic women feel they are getting value for their time and involvement, they will want to join. The support of the parish spiritual advisor plays a significant role in success at the parish level. Members want renewal, but parish councils will need to be open and flexible for this to happen. Accept the challenge of the new online annual reporting being undertaken this year.
The enthusiasm and energy experienced at annual diocesan, provincial and national conventions needs to blanket parish councils so that they will be fueled to undertake this transformation. As organization chairpersons, it is our role to invite and lead. May we each accept the challenge with passion and enthusiasm. The real work of transformation is God’s to do – and ours to accept.
National First Vice-President and Chairperson of Spiritual Development Anne Gorman
Jesus uses the image of the vine and branches: “Abide in my love”, remain attached to Him, as the branch is attached to the vine. As we are joined to Him, we are able to bear fruit. As we are attached to Jesus- the poor, the rich, the weak, the strong, the well, the infirm, the desperate- we can never feel outside or completely discouraged. As we complete another year of service for God and Canada, we keep in mind that we are connected, as on a vine, to those members who came before us and prepared us for this day that the Lord has made.
What I would like remembered above all:
1) As an organization rooted in gospel values, the spiritual nature of us as members and Christians is the most important part of this national organization. No amount of service, collection of money, education focus, while extremely important, can ever over ride this fact. Our hearts, voices and mission are rooted in the gospel embedded in our souls via our baptism. Every other standing committee gets its impetus from the spiritual dimension.
2) A spiritual bouquet will be sent from the League before the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, to the Holy Father, demonstrating our actions relating to palliative and hospice care. Pledge cards have been sent to all parishes in Canada for individual and council action, which is then reported to national office for compilation. While the reporting to national office of our pledges has been few relative to our membership, to date, there is still time to send this information. We have until late fall of 2016 to compile the bouquet of our efforts, so please support this precious gift. Thank you, Ontario, for your beautiful offering.
3) As Catholic women, we are heavily involved in many ministries in the church as well as interfaith endeavours. Added to this, we will be following Pope Francis’s interest in the “theology of women” and the commissioning of the study of women to the Diaconate.
4) His Holiness has elevated July 22, the Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene, to the dignity of a liturgical feast, “precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to signify the importance of this woman who showed a great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ” (Archbishop Roche, Sect’y of the Congregation for Divine Worship).
5) I am pleased to announce the generous support councils have given Catholic Missions In Canada for 2015: $ 35,805.03. This is the face of our faith in action.
6) The three sub-committee chairpersons, Judy Look, Theresa McGuire, and Marie Rackley, were an excellent and invaluable support for this vital standing committee.
Pope Francis said in The Church of Mercy, “It is not creativity… or meetings or planning that insures our fruitfulness, even if these are greatly helpful. But what insures our fruitfulness is our being faithful to Jesus, who says, insistently, ‘Abide in me and I in you’(John 15:4).” Spreading the gospel means we are the first to proclaim reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity and love that the Holy Spirit gives us.
May God continue to bless The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, as a sisterhood of more than 83,000 women nationwide, who live the gospel as Christian women, part of the vine connected to Jesus, and evangelize because we will burst if we do not share the Good News.
National Second Vice-President and Chairperson of Communications Fran Lucas
2015 and 2016 have been a time of communicating as I have not seen in the past. I am referring to all levels of the League and all standing committee chairpersons. And, raising the bar yet again, our national president set a first with her YouTube message to the Nova Scotia annual provincial convention!
It was with great delight that many members from across Canada were able to take part in the tapings that became a video of testimonials, launched on the national website in the fall. Member feedback indicated this to be a useful and meaningful capture of our work in the CWL.
The Pornography Hurts campaign, with a few minor changes from the past, was well received, and cards were able to be printed by individual councils with designation of months to participate. That assignment of months was a request of the provincial chairpersons of communications during a meeting held at the annual national convention. A PowerPoint presentation for training purposes was added to the website as a gift spearheaded by Victoria Diocesan Chairperson of Communications Christa Grillmair. Pornography subcommittee chairperson Rosanne Sogan was a great help these past two years.
Be League, our monthly electronic newsletter, saw provinces submitting more articles than in the past. Writing an editorial each month was an opportunity to share my thoughts and observations on a variety of topics. Reading and editing the newsletter content was a fun time. I felt like I was part of your creative events and activities! The understanding of no longer requiring permission from those in photos submitted to national for use in any way was a bonus.
November 21st was designated as a “Day in the Life of a CWL Member” and a few of you took the opportunity to share on Facebook the variety of activities you personally or as a council were enjoying that day.
In December, we had an early Christmas gift with the airing of Salt +Light Television’s Woman on a Mission! This Catholic Focus piece created by Salt + Light Television aired at least 15 times in the space of six weeks and will be aired again in months to come. It was made available and still is on the national website. What a wonderful opportunity for all Salt + Light Television subscribers to learn about our CWL. We are pleased to have Salt + Light Television with us again at this convention. Their social media abilities will give us exposure to a huge audience not part of our current following. Please take the time to engage in their Facebook posts and tweets, and visit their booth.
The forum, a chat room for members only, was taken off the website in February. That social media tool had been up for a little over a year and the participation rate was not supported by the cost of it.
The national website is a buffet of information. Do yourself a favour and visit it regularly. The website has had a number of changes and additions over the past months—several because of your requests. Updates and enhancements continue to be incorporated.
Pope Francis asks us to use the power of communication to build bridges. There are many bridges in our lives that need crossing. That can happen by a simple conversation.
Chairpersons of communications: I encourage you to share your work with the next level of the League as you complete it. I found it a benefit and a treat to receive links to the individual provincial websites for their monthly newsletters or from the chairpersons for their communiques. Diocesan and provincial chairpersons: you will find great benefit to randomly visiting different provincial and diocesan websites to see what others are doing.
Current initiatives include the creation of a CWL organizational chart as a quick reference to how the League is structured and a guideline for using Facebook is in the approval stage. Watch for information on these two documents in the near future.
In my two year term, a number of new initiatives were launched. Some were hugely successful, while other generated a spark in various parts of the country but never created the bonfire one hopes for. Am I disappointed? Not at al! Because of these successes (and not such successes), conversations took place that created a wonderful opportunity to hear your concerns, ideas, and suggestions, and then to try them out. The adage “nothing ventured nothing gained” truly holds a lot of wisdom. Personally, I have gained from every piece of work I was blessed with and can guarantee the next standing committee chairperson of communications will find the same rewards.
National Secretary-Treasurer Shari Guinta
Two years has gone by so quickly and, in that two years, I have seen national council evolve. So much stays the same but changes!
As treasurer, it is my responsibility to examine financial statements—monthly, interim and year-end as well as consult on budget preparation. We are blessed to have competent staff and an executive director who is an accountant!
I have had complete confidence in Executive Director Kim Scammell as well as the auditing firm of Scarrow & Donald LLP Chartered Accountants of Winnipeg and our investment advisors, CIBC Woody Gundy.
Per capita fees for the year 2015 were less than budget and less than 2014. We do receive other income from product sales, life memberships, etc.
When I mentioned evolving within the League, I must mention the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation and how that was a new experience for all of us, and I was tasked with creating a gifting agreement for the donation to the foundation.
Because of questions about insurance and audited statements, I did a couple of articles for The Canadian League magazine addressing those questions.
After a discussion around the executive table about conflict of interest, I was tasked with the preparation of a conflict of interest policy. Joan Bona, past Nova Scotia provincial president, and Life Member Mary Lou Watson (Ontario), served on the committee with me and, after vetting through a solicitor, it was approved at the pre-convention executive meeting. In addition, I drafted a confidentiality policy for the administrative committee.
So even though we are almost 100 years old, there are always new things to experience. This position has been a blessing to me. I have learned and grown as I made my way through questions, documents and numbers, and experienced the wonders of my League sisters around the table and across the country— the wonders of what they do and accomplish and share. Our theme One Heart, One Voice One Mission, is evident, even in the treasury.
National Past President Betty Anne Brown Davidson
Madame Chair, members of the League and friends…
Yesterday, today and tomorrow, this is the broad spectrum of interest to a past president.
The national past president gets to look back, treasure the moments and recount the stories (the “Once-upon-a-times”) of the actions and words of our members over the course of 96 years of League history. She quickly discovers that we stand on the shoulders of courageous, innovative women who broke down barriers and laid the foundation for so much of how our Canadian society operates today.
Well before the days of instant communication and special long distance phone packages, our League predecessors wrote letters, very often on the back side of the pages they had received. Those were the days of twice daily mail delivery, and so, the treasure of their daily letters almost stands as a diary of their thinking, consultations and actions. From these letters, one is able to sense the frustrations and good humour of the times. These personal letters are archival treasures.
Every single member of the League is unique, and thus files exist of many of our interactions. In your councils, when a special award is made to a member, or occasions marked, please submit your precis of her accomplishments to the next higher level of the League for their archives. This will be the first stop for someone working on a thesis or writing a council’s history, when looking for the facts and fleshing out the stories.
Yesterday and today: This day God gives me…
Today, this moment, is the only vestige of time over which we have any influence. What you choose to do or not to do now becomes a part of the big picture that is the League’s story. This is when past presidents are sought out as mentors, advisors and semi-experts, because they have been there, done that in many instances. Our experience actually does teach us ways to help things run smoothly, and where to seek the policies and procedures that help our organization run smoothly.
Like a well-oiled machine, we have adapted to the times and kept on going—an Energizer Bunny within the parishes, regions, dioceses, provinces and nation. Sometimes these policies need a bit of tweaking—the past president then endeavours to clarify, consult and facilitate the suggested improvement for the whole council.
Mahatma Gandhi tells us “The future depends on what you do today.” And so, dear friends, “Let’s press play!” and move forward with bright eyes, hearts full of hope and hands clasped in friendship. Let us share the Good News that Jesus loves us beyond all measure. Let us allow Him to live in us and touch the world by our actions. Let us encourage and invite other women to join us on this marvelous adventure called life in the League
I would be in remiss if I neglected to recall some of the gifts that came to us from honorary life members Mary Matthews and Lucille Cullen. God called both of these League stalwarts home to their heavenly reward this year. Mary Matthews was our national president in 1975. She had a fresh presence about her: she knew that Canada would benefit from hearing our thoughts, and so our annual federal government visits began.
Mary was a dear friend of another honorary life member, Betty Aiken, who went on to become a World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization’s president. Together, these women toured the world.
The church recognized Mary Matthews’ numerous prestigious positions in Canadian Catholic society with her investiture as a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher. Many of us will never forget Mary’s smile and the sound of her voice. She was always a positive role model and enthusiastic supporter as we progressed in League leadership positions. I particularly liked the fact that she lived for many years on Betty Ann Drive in North York, just north of Toronto.
Lucille Cullen, on the other hand, was like a whirling wind! Her enthusiasm for the League was evident in every breath she took.
She was a charter member of two parish councils. I knew Lucille but had never met her until the day I was elected president of the Toronto diocesan council. She came up to me with eyes shining. “Today is the day that you prepare for the day you leave office,” she adamantly advised. Excellent advice, presidents!
Lucille was responsible for the CWL flag. I remember how proudly she carried it in its first liturgical procession.
Lucille and I were both educated by the Grey Nuns and graduated from Immaculata High School in Ottawa, Ontario. Those nuns taught us, “To whom God has given much, much is expected.” Lucille was absolutely thrilled to attend the canonization in Rome of Marguerite d’Youville, the foundress of the Grey Nuns.
Lucille was a League history buff like no other you have met; it was she who designed the CWL Jeopardy game. Her TV room was heaped with our story in letters, reports, books and manuals. Lucky for us, the winter project for she and her husband Jim was to organize, categorize and box all those documents. Our archives will be forever blessed by their touch.
Two great women upon whose shoulders we stand, knowing that we are their children, the fruit of their efforts. May God have mercy on their souls!
Executive Director Kim Scammell
Last year I had reported that national office was working on one challenge and one opportunity. The challenge was related to the volume of e-mail generated from the online membership system. The volumes were tracked of the past winter. In December, the average e-mails directed to membership was 85 per day. In January it rose to 125. In February, it rose again to 157. By March, it began to drop back to December levels. By May, it dropped to the level that one person can handle, which is anything less than 60 e-mails a day. This may seem a low figure, but every e-mail needs to have the information processed in the database and a confirmation reply sent. And of course there is all of the other administration of membership that is required. E-mails should never comprise the entirety of one’s day. This past season a team of three people helped to keep the e-mail backlog to within three to five days, which is the office standard. I am happy to report we are back in line with what is expected.
The opportunity we were considering was how to get the best information from the annual reports while making it easier for parish chairpersons and their diocesan and provincial counterparts. We developed and tested an electronic annual reporting system with the help of members in Quebec and Newfoundland, just to see how it would work.
The simplified report is a series of multiple choice questions tailored to the chairperson, along with some short answer questions. There are so many things that members and councils do as routine that do not go reported, simply because they are routine! All of this good work was somehow not filtering its way up into the national annual report.
The multiple choice questions were designed with two purposes in mind: to capture the good and routine works, but also to give ideas! For example, a question may ask how the council has put into practice Building Relationship and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous People. For those councils that have worked on this resolution, there were a number of choices where they simply check the boxes accordingly. For those councils that hadn’t worked on this resolution, the choices give ideas on how to participate. So a parish council community life chairperson could read through the annual report form and actually plan her activities for the next year, and maybe she would consider the resolution in her plan!
At the diocesan, provincial and national levels, all of the responses are instantly tallied so these chairpersons will get information from a high level perspective. They will know what their councils believe to be important. They will know what resolutions have been acted on. They will know the strengths and weaknesses in their area and be able to make their own plans accordingly. For example, perhaps the diocesan past president notices that most of her councils don’t have policy manuals. Her response? She can promote policy manuals. She can arrange a workshop on developing policy manuals and apply to the national development fund to cover the cost. She then knows where her focus could be placed for the biggest benefit to members.
The reporting process is being rolled out nationally in the fall. More information and detailed instructions will be in the fall parish council mailing to all presidents, so ladies, keep an eye out for this package. It will contain important material for you! This change is not one that can be expected overnight as not all councils will want to embrace it immediately. And that’s okay. Being flexible is always the key to change. If we all help each other and offer solutions, we will have some amazing information to share with the world about the tireless efforts of our members!
Lastly, I wish to share that national office is embarking on a new challenge – the membership system itself. The current membership system was purchased in 2008. We all know how much technology has changed in the past decade so we are in the beginning stages of looking at options that would serve the members for the next eight to ten years. I look forward to reporting more on this next year.
Madame president, this concludes my report.
National Chairperson of Christian Family Life Judy Lewis
The Christian family life committee is active and committed to living out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy from coast to coast to coast.
All families, the separated, widowed and divorced, seniors, the mentally and physically challenged, youth and all people who chose religious vocations are feeling the benefit of these actions.
The sanctity of life has received a challenge with the federal government passing Bill C-14 regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide. Eighty-three thousand members across this great country have the ability, knowledge and resources to take action to continue the fight to protect the dignity of life. Education is the key through the use of The Canadian League magazine, information workshops at the parish levels and constant lobbying of all levels of government for the right to good palliative care for each person in Canada and protection of our health care providers right of conscience.
Sr. Nuala Kenny, a professor emeritus of bioethics at Dalhousie University and a retired pediatrician with an expertise on end-of-life issues, states whether it is to protect consciences or vulnerable patients, the best hope for limiting the scope of assisted suicide in Canada now is a “robust third party option for all end-of-life care issues.” She believes this will lead them to a thorough look at all their options, including palliative care.
Dr. Moira McQueen, Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute’s executive director, is concerned that most people will “sit back and say that’s acceptable the government draws up safeguards with no knowledge of what has happened in jurisdictions that have tried them. …We are not informed enough and will not be listening to people who say safeguards are not working.” She said,”I’m concerned many ordinary lay people are being lulled into a false sense of security about mitigation harm.”
Our challenge is to create a caring world where no one will request euthanasia or assisted suicide. Our actions speak louder and with more sincerity than our words.
Highlights of the Christian family life standing committee included the “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” held from coast to coast to coast for palliative care, and the donations to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for 2015, totaling $13,069.39 to assist in continuing this critical battle.
Each year, World Youth Day meetings fuel the passion and love of Christ among our youth who in turn return home to spread the Good News. Pope Frances’s optimistic outlook and his actions for marriage, families, youth, seniors and the disabled is indeed encouraging.
Councils reached out to young women in local parishes, universities and colleges to create connections for young women to join The Catholic Women’s League of Canada.
We stand with One Heart filled with mercy, compassion and holiness; One Voice united in harmony to speak the truth with courage, gentleness and zeal. We are women united with One Mission, witnessing the Good News of the gospel through personal encounter and joyful service and evangelizing by our actions more than our words.
National Chairperson of Community Life Doreen Gowans
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy challenges us to take action, and resolutions provide the direction. For example Resolution 2013.01 Building Relationships and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples is being acted on by not-for-profit organizations through hosting celebrations of culture with the First Nations people by including traditional powwows during the areas festivities.
The Archdiocese of Vancouver’s Anti-Human Trafficking Committee is taking action to eliminate human trafficking by publishing and selling posters stating “Buying Sex is a Crime”.
Across Canada, the CWL has touched refugees in many ways as we have prayed, raised money and donated products to help relocate them from their war torn countries to our neighbourhoods. To help welcome refugees, obtain a copy of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (CCCB) pastoral letter entitled I was a Stranger and You Welcomed me from the CCCB website.
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) has partnered with the League to support the Holy Land Christians though Velma’s Dream. We have sponsored the Infant Welfare Center and Shepherd’s Field Hospital. For the period of July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 we have donated $19,566.36. Your generous support has completed our commitment to these projects.
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) is implementing a new strategic plan to promote “justice for women” and women’s leadership. In the future, our 1% funds will be distributed to three areas: in Sierra Leone – Women on Mining and Extractives (WoME); Afghanistan – Noor Educational Capacity Development Organizations (NECDO); and Haiti, Famn Deside.
In Sierra Leone, federal government officials prefer to side with the mining companies to exploit poor women. WoME is a national non-governmental, non-religious and non-partisan women-led and owned organization working to overcome the economic inequality, social exclusion and vulnerability of women in mining communities. WoMe is a network of passionate women interested in natural resource management seeking to ensure increased communal benefits for disadvantaged women in Sierra Leone.
In Afghanistan – Noor Educational & Capacity Development Organization (NEDCO) works for empowerment of women. Volunteers support needy Afghan women in Afghan refugee camps. Projects are implemented to eliminate violence against women by conducting training and awareness programs on human rights, child rights, and peace education, and they also provide business training in management, finance and computer applications.
In Haiti, where violence against women is pervasive, Fanm Deside educates on women and children’s rights through training, accompaniment of female victims of violence and supporting income-generating activities. The organization helped tent camps in Jacmel to ensure the safety of women after the 2010 earthquake. It has launched environmentally-sustainable agricultural training programs to raise broiler hens and market coffee to help develop their financial independence.
For the period of July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, the CWL has donated $63,237.18 to CCODP.
Women are caregivers and educators who take action by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, providing health care to the sick and much more.
May we continue to do God’s work on earth by being His hands and feet.
National Chairperson of Education and Health Nancy Simms
Hospice palliative care pledge cards: have you heard of these pledge cards? Have you filled out a card and sent it back to national office? Did you know that, at last count, only 900 cards had been mailed back?
As Catholic women, we believe in the precious gift of life and in the power of being present for others in their time of need. Consequently, we need to send a strong and clear message to the rest of Canada that we do not want anyone to be made to feel that their only option is assisted suicide. We want Canada to know with certainty that The Catholic Women’s League of Canada is doing everything it can to support and promote hospice and palliative care. But, we cannot do this without your help. Each of us in the League has our own unique talents. What your sister pledges may not be the same as you, but here are a few suggestions: take training to sit with the dying; provide fresh baking for a hospice; if you play a musical instrument, offer your talent; if you are an avid reader, sit and read to someone needing comfort; give a financial donation; if you have a local hospice home, enquire what items they are in need of and get your council involved; if you do not have a local hospice home, form a committee to get one started; and we can all offer our daily prayers.
These are only a few ideas. There is so much more to be done! The cards can be found on the national website and more can be printed from there. The deadline to mail in your cards is October 31, 2016. Please go home, talk to your councils and mail in those pledges!
In 2015, a resolution was adopted urging both the federal and provincial governments to increase access to early intervention for children and youth mental health. Every year, too many children die of suicide. In the spring parish council mailing, postcards were enclosed. Councils need to copy and mail these to provincial and federal government. Has your council done this? If the postcards save one life, it was worth it. It is not too late. Let us send a message to our politicians that our children and youth matter!
The Coady International Institute is an amazing school that educates leaders in development from around the world. From July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, the League donated $28,082.01, allowing seven recipients from four different countries to attend.
This is the first year that the national bursary is being offered bi-annually. The national bursary committee met in June by teleconference. Eighteen applications were reviewed and 14 bursaries were awarded with a total of $3,925. Applications for this fall must be submitted to national office by November 30th.
It has been a challenging year for both Canada’s health and education systems. We have witnessed the acceptance of physician-assisted suicide, the abortion pill RU-486, mandatory graphic sex education in some provinces and the call for gender neutral washrooms in schools, to name only a few. Yet you, as members of the League, continue to be the voice of God. I pray we will always be God’s hands, doing His work and His arms reaching out to embrace all people with love. You are my inspiration. God bless.
National Chairperson of Resolutions Jacqueline Nogier
Strength can be defined as many things; having physical or emotional strength, describing a person’s character, or describing the number of people in a group. The strength of the CWL is all of these things and yet is also hard to pinpoint. If I had went around these past few days and asked people what the CWL’s number one strength is I would have gotten many, many answers. Some people might have said our faith and prayers, some might have said our emphasis on caring for people from conception to natural death, some might have said resolutions, some might have said our sisterhood, and some might have said our visits to governments. While all of these answers are true, there is one thing that encompasses all of these thoughts.
We visited Ottawa this year at the end of May, beginning of June. As we did in 2015, we visited with many government officials as well as with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi. With the changing of the federal government, we did struggle a bit to secure meetings, but that was to be expected. We had a great relationship with many of the members of the Conservative government due in part to their long time in government. We expect that over time, our relationship with the new government will grow.
We were very pleased to be able to thank you in a number of circumstances for movement on some recent resolutions; including the reinstatement of the mandatory long form census and the restoration of health care for refugee claimants. We had many frank discussions around palliative care and the need for increased action on this topic by the federal government. At each stop, we were asked to continue to encourage our members to take an active role in their democratic government. Please continue to sign petitions and write letters. Even better, however, is to take the time to make a phone call or stop in at your representative’s office. Your members of parliament want and need your input and opinions because that is how they can truly represent you.
When we visited with Archbishop Bonazzi, he said something that struck me in a special way. His Grace was speaking about Catholics in general, but I feel what he said also applies to the League as well. He told us that, “Our strength is our unity.”
Now we all know that the Catholic Church is a very diverse church; it reaches every corner of the globe and can count members from every ethnicity. The gathering last month in Poland of young people at World Youth Day is a testament to that. The League is also a diverse group with members from shore to shore to shore of our great nation.
In spite of this diversity, there is unity. We can (and do) have many opinions on a variety of topics, but when it comes right down to it, we are unified in our faith and our actions. The resolutions that we have been able to present to the government in the last two years, as well as the resolutions that will come out of our convention this week, are a testament to that strength and unity.
You have worked hard to investigate, research, and write resolutions directed at the government. You have worked hard to learn about and take action on existing resolutions. You can be proud of what the League accomplishes each day and each year through that hard work that is started in your parishes. This executive thanks you for your hard work; the League thanks you for your hard work, and your country thanks you for your hard work. Our strength is our unity; together we can accomplish great things, and you have all done great things this year.
National Chairperson of Legislation Janet McLean
Since the 2015 annual national convention, we have experienced the longest election period in our country’s recent history, saw a new government installed in Ottawa and had the most radical bill ever introduced in parliament receive royal assent on June 17th, 2016. If you thought legislation was a dull standing committee, think again!
During this past year as chairperson of this exciting standing committee, I worked with several other members, medical doctors and Dr. Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, in preparing the League response to the consultation committee set up by the former federal government to respond to the question of medical aid in dying. Many hours were spent in research, discussions and e-mails in order to prepare the comprehensive response filed by the League last fall. With the change in government after the election, it was unclear how the new government would respond to the question of medical aid in dying. The response came in the legislation known as Bill C-14, which became law this past June, and which allows medical aid in dying under certain conditions, as we heard from Dr. Nuala Kenny.
In order to counteract the effects of Bill C-14, and in this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the League chose palliative care as a special area of focus to act as the alternative to medical aid in dying. On May 4th, all councils were encouraged to take part in the initiative “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”. One of the components of this initiative was a petition that requested palliative care be identified as a defined medical service under the Canada Health Act. The signed petitions were sent to me and, while I cannot tell you how many copies of the petition I received, I can tell you that the copies contained over 25,000 signatures. I delivered the petitions to NDP Member of Parliament (MP) Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) in mid-June, and they will be presented in the House of Commons when parliament resumes this fall. I will make sure that members are informed when this is done.
While the federal government is in summer recess, most MPs will be spending time in their ridings, meeting with constituents in both formal and informal settings. This is the perfect time for us to let them know our position on the medical aid in dying legislation as well as our demand for accessible and affordable palliative care for all Canadians. Having been part of the delegation that visited with government representatives during the past two years, I can assure you that your opinions, comments, e-mails and letters can make a difference. I encourage you to take some time to have personal contact with your MP in the coming weeks, perhaps with several other members of your parish council.
In closing, I would like to thank all provincial chairpersons of legislation for the informative and thought-provoking communiqués and articles they prepared these past two years and which they sent on to me. I would also like to encourage members to consider becoming chairperson of legislation at their parish council level. Ask members in your area who may have more experience with this standing committee or your diocesan council for a training session. Try something out of your comfort zone. With so much information only a click away, it is much easier nowadays to keep abreast of what is happening at the federal, provincial or municipal levels of government. You could be the one to initiate change for the good of your community, province or country. I am sure you will find it both challenging and rewarding.
Alberta Mackenzie Provincial President Cathy Bouchard
At our annual provincial convention, a member much older than I am spoke to a resolution that her council had written. She began: “WE—W-E means ‘Women Empowered’”. This encapsulates the sentiments of members who have become involved in advocacy efforts of the League. It reminds all assembled that no matter our age or our experience in the League, we do make a difference in our councils, in the places where we live.
Members and councils listened to the call for social action and used their collective voice to share the concerns of the day. They attended sessions on physician-assisted dying and euthanasia. Members wrote letters and signed petitions to the federal government and senators. Members are now writing to urge the “development and promotion of hospice and palliative care strategies.” Members pursued a letter writing campaign to the Alberta minister of education regarding Catholic education and the proposed guidelines for education for Edmonton Catholic schools, which were a part of the groundswell of influence that changed the government’s tact towards inclusivity of all our children. “We have every reason to believe that Alberta Education will continue to recognize Catholic religious rights and freedoms and respect that all Catholic Schools have been and will continue to be inclusive, welcoming, safe and caring environments responsive to the individual needs of all their students without exception.” Members actively support the Alberta Mackenzie Provincial Independent Seniors Advocate Provincial Initiative by providing information, collecting signatures, visiting and writing to their members of the legislative assembly. Through all of this, members realize that advocacy efforts are more effective when combined with prayer.
The Alberta Mackenzie Provincial Council recorded 9,793 members from across the province of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Alberta Mackenzie has 35 life members, four of whom are honorary life members. One of our life members, Ella Ell, has passed away, and a new one, June Fuller, has been added to our ranks. A record 25 of our life members attended our annual provincial convention.
At our 69th annual provincial convention, Rev. Stefano Penna spoke on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”). He reminded us that real families are messy; there is no “perfect” family even our own and we have to meet families where they are.
We had two resolutions adopted at the provincial level that moved on to the national level: Support for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Victims and Reducing the Impact of Disposable Hygiene Products.
The membership supported a proposed amendment to the Constitution & Bylaws, and we worked on the new annual reports process.
The members voted to support those in need in Fort McMurray and area as a result of the wildfires there by setting up a voluntary fund into which councils and members can donate until June 1, 2017, to be reviewed at the Alberta Mackenzie Provincial Convention on June 3, 2017. These monies are to be recorded by the provincial treasurer. The first $2,000 is to be paid out to St. John the Baptist Parish Council, and subsequent donations are to be sent to the Catholic Diocese of St. Paul for distribution through their Fort McMurray relief fund.
The provincial Elsie Yanik Award was created in 1997 to commemorate the leadership, ministry and service of Elsie Yanik to the Catholic community. This year’s winner was Life Member Rose-Marie McCarthy. Her “story” was highlighted in the Western Catholic Reporter.
In October, we met with the minister of health and the minister of seniors and housing of the provincial government. We discussed the implementation of an independent senior’s advocate. It was an excellent learning opportunity to prepare and meet our government. Our follow-up is now continuing among the membership to keep the focus on our issues.
We have one new parish council and one reactivated council in our province.
Calgary Diocesan Council is hosting the annual national convention from August 19-21, 2019. It is hosting a number of fundraising activities including a CWL journal notebook and are selling “pin ribbons”— a ribbon on which a member can display more than one pin in at a time.
We are continuing our advocacy efforts with the provincial and federal governments.
We are implementing the new annual report system for the 2016 year.
Presidents at all levels are called upon to assist members in identifying and developing their gifts and talents. With this being the second year of the provincial and diocesan mandates, this helps us to prepare for all of our elections.
Many of us have heard the song, “Go make A diff’rence, we can make a diff’rence.” This has been a year that the members of the Alberta Mackenzie Provincial Council believe that WE have made a difference in the leadership skills and friendships we have developed. We have made a difference to the life of our parishes. We influence government and leadership where we are. No matter our age or numbers, we make a difference because we are following the call “For God and Canada”.
B.C. & Yukon Provincial President Evelyn Rigby
I was honoured to be installed as B.C. & Yukon Provincial President in June, and, just like a baby with teething problems, I have been enjoying the unconditional love and care of my League “parents” and “siblings” as I grapple with the responsibilities of leading 130 councils and just over 9,000 members.
The six diocesan councils were delighted to learn that a portion of their funds for last year’s annual national convention in Vancouver would be reimbursed. Each diocesan council generously agreed to receive the same basic amount in addition to a portion based on their per capita, thus favouring the poor over the rich. Most will be using these funds to help members get to more conventions!
The mid-term spring meeting was graced with the presence of Bishop John Corriveau (Nelson) who gave an enlightening talk on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Further spiritual content was contained in Fr. Edwin Kulling’s two-part presentation on St. Hildegard von Bingen, an extraordinarily gifted 12th-century abbess and now doctor of the church.
B.C. & Yukon Provincial Past President Pat Deppiesse and I each attended three diocesan conventions, presenting workshops on leadership.
Sandwiched between these uplifting events was our annual meeting with members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) in the B.C. legislature. We began with the two most pressing issues: the need for hospice and palliative care and conscience rights of health practitioners and the concerns of institutions. Other resolutions addressed included Resolution 2015.01 Increased Early Access and Intervention to Children and Youth Mental Health Services, B.C. & Yukon provincial resolution 2015.02 Enduring Power of Attorney on Spouses, Resolution 2011.03 National Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Registry, Resolution 2015.02 Ban Microbeads in Personal Care Products and Resolution 2015.03 Banning the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides. Minister of Environment for British Columbia Mary Polak (Langley) suggested we work on a new resolution dealing with the issue of organic landfill. We realized later there were also independent MLAs we could have approached.
The “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” to counteract the effects of assisted suicide legislation took place in many different forms throughout our area. Many councils also responded magnificently to the writing campaign.
In May, five members of the executive, part of 2000+ pro-lifers, accompanied our re-designed provincial banner on its debut at the March for Life in Victoria where we heard speeches from MLAs supportive of the theme Caring not Killing. Sharon Geiger, former provincial chairperson of Christian family life, marshalled our contingent in the distribution of slider postcards, pamphlets and fact sheets.
The League Development Fund was used for a legislation workshop with two more currently being planned. It is hoped that more of our councils will access it to improve submissions of resolutions.
Faith, fun and fulfilment were experienced in good measure at the annual provincial convention held in Coquitlam, which drew a record crowd of 339 attendees. Three presentations highlighted different facets of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, one by National President Barbara Dowding. The annulment process and Catholic Women’s League Leadership Foundation were explained. Many were touched by the personal faith journey of James Borkowski. An enlightening panel discussion entitled “Euthanasia-What Now?” featuring renowned speakers Member of Parliament Mark Warawa (Langley), Dr. Will Johnston, family physician, and Natalie Sonnen, executive director for LifeCanada, was well received. Two resolutions were adopted dealing with the right of conscience and quality hospice/palliative care.
At the fun-filled casual night, our executive had to be quick-change artists from 60s, 70s and 80s outfits to celebrate the “Irishness” of our much-loved retiring provincial president Pat Deppiesse.
Three vacant positions were filled shortly after the election, and our dedicated new executive was installed using the revised ceremony.
Two talented students, Sam Hanly and Grace Trinidad-Green, were awarded $500.00 bursaries. Barbara Jarvis succeeded Dodie Bond as provincial life member liaison.
New life member Agnes Geiger from Vancouver Island serves her parish, diocese and province well, and is a prolific worker in prayer shawl ministry.
The end of the provincial convention usually heralds vacation time, but our councils remained involved in the resettlement of refugees, hospice and palliative care, and anti-trafficking initiatives.
May B.C. & Yukon members continue to strive for excellence in our work “For God and Canada”.
Manitoba Provincial President Faith Anderson
The Manitoba Provincial Day of Celebration was held at Corpus Christie Roman Catholic Church in Narol, Manitoba. The keynote speaker was Deacon Gilles Urquhart, who focused on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. He reviewed and led us through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and included sharing in small groups. The new Manitoba Provincial Council website was launched, and several S’Mores workshops were presented and were well received.
The Manitoba annual provincial convention was held at Christ the King Church. The opening spiritual program provided time to reflect on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and the need for more palliative care. A memorial service for deceased members was held.
A “grove” of trees was assembled and, following a brief presentation on missing and murdered aboriginal women, the delegates were asked to write a prayer on the back of a red paper dress and hang it on the tree. The red dress prayers hung in the “grove” throughout the day.
Several parish council presidents had the opportunity to lunch with National President Barbara Dowding. This definitely was a highlight of the convention for them.
Presentations from Catholic Missions In Canada, Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council and National President Barbara Dowding were well received. Catholic Missions In Canada provided insight into the daily challenges the missionaries face in the north. We heard first hand from the first Syrian refugee to Manitoba, her journey from leaving her homeland to spending time in refugee camps and eventually finding safe haven in Manitoba. National President Barbara Dowding used the national theme One Heart, One Voice, One Mission: Palliative and Hospice Care to reinforce the need for ongoing services. Toiletry supplies were brought by delegates for the provincial project for Siloam Mission and Chez Nous, which both work with the poor and homeless. Delegates also participated in the Tabs for Wheelchairs program. A life membership was presented to Ella Nogier on behalf of provincial council at the Keewatin-The Pas annual diocesan convention. Provincial council was pleased to receive the gift of a resolution from each of the three diocesan councils.
Keewatin-The Pas Diocesan Council held its annual diocesan convention in Snow Lake. After a year of holding meetings via teleconferencing, councils were glad to meet face-to-face to present their reports. S’Mores workshops were part of the convention weekend. Delegates from the northern councils were appreciative of having the opportunity to experience this development opportunity. One resolution was adopted: Environmentally Responsible Solutions for the Collection and Disposal of Grain Bags and Agricultural Plastic Waste Products.
St. Boniface Diocesan Council held its annual convention at St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic Parish. Archbishop Albert LeGatt (St. Boniface) attended the morning business sessions and annual spiritual advisors’ meeting. The keynote speaker, Deacon Doug Cross, a retired police officer, presented a way to understand that mercy is not about talking about what is done or not done in the past but about what is yet to be done. Life membership was presented to Manitoba President-Elect Rolande Chernichan. One resolution was adopted: Canada Food Guide.
Winnipeg Diocesan Council held its annual diocesan convention at St. Theresa’s Roman Catholic Parish in Middlechurch. Following the oral reports, three S’Mores workshops were presented. A lively interaction took place with each segment. One council that is mainly Polish holds a yearly TAG day— TAG day is held on the same day that Labour Day is recognized in Poland. The council pins white and red ribbons and take a collection for their charities. One resolution was adopted: Extending Coverage of Insulin Pumps and Supplies to Manitobans of All Ages.
Throughout the year, it is evident that councils have embraced the League theme. Councils with one heart provided funds for palliative care; one voice wrote letters on palliative care, and one mission prayed and signed petitions for palliative care. The “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” was held throughout Manitoba. Several councils have active prayer shawl ministries.
In his address to the convention, Fr. Michael Wollbaum, diocesan spiritual advisor for Winnipeg Diocesan Council, said, “You are Church. We are an extension of the body of Christ. You are messengers of the resurrection. You are messengers of Good News.” We need to continue to offer in humility “all the good things God has given us” and share the Good News with everyone.
Military Ordinariate Provincial President Coreena Cole
I would like to share with you some of the highlights of our 2016 annual provincial convention held in Borden, Ontario.
One of our guest speakers was Sara denBok, a child of Mother Teresa. Sara shared her journey of being found on the streets of Calcutta at the age of three, being adopted by a Canadian family about three years later and then returning to India to see Mother Teresa in 1994. Her presentation was enjoyed by all.
Our outgoing provincial past president, Donna Penney, was presented the maple leaf service pin for her outstanding service during her six years on the executive.
Our bishop, Bishop Donald Theriault, past Military Ordinary, celebrated the closing mass with us. He retired at the end of May after serving us for 18 years.
On that note, our new bishop, Bishop Scott McCaig, was ordained on May 31st. Bishop McCaig stated that he does not want to see any more chapels close. Hopefully, we will not lose any more councils. We currently have 14 councils spread throughout Canada and approximately 315 members. So far this year, two of our members have passed away, one being a charter member of CFB Gagetown (1970). We cannot afford to lose any more members; we need to recruit new members, train them and retain them, groom them to become leaders and remember to have fun along the way. During our convention our spiritual advisor, Fr. Chinedu Chukwu, encouraged us to open up our hearts; and he reminded us that our convention was a time to understand each other and grow in unity.
Following our 2014 election, the president-elect slot was vacant. Therefore, this year’s election included voting for the office of president. After reviewing the nomination list, it was clear that at the conclusion of the 2016 election three seats would remain vacant, and appointments would be needed.
This appeared to be a trend, and therefore a motivational speaker, Mike Moore, was hired to address the convention and speak to us on his topic “Leadership is a Laughing Matter” (the role of humour and laughter in leadership). As quoted on his website, “When you hire Mike you get a speaker, humorist, musician, cartoonist and storyteller. It’s like getting multiple entertainers for the price of one”. Mike emphasized the importance and need for laughter in everything that we do. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and I hope that it inspires more people to incorporate humour and laughter in their leadership roles. We need to foster growth and groom our sisters in the league to step up, take the torch and continue to fight the good fight “For God and Canada”.
I am happy to report that at this time, all executive positions are filled with very talented, enthusiastic and capable women, and I look forward to the next four years.
Looking back over the past few months I feel like a ninja warrior, stumbling over a few obstacles, but eventually with time, hard work and fun, conquering those obstacles together with my sisters in the League
New Brunswick Provincial President Marie Rackley
Greetings from the province of New Brunswick. This is my first official duty as the provincial president. My name is Marie Rackley, from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Saint John, New Brunswick. I am a third generation League member with 46 years of service.
New Brunswick Provincial Council currently has four diocesan councils consisting of 46 parish councils with a membership of 2,220, which includes 26 life members.
Like most provincial councils, we are seeing a decline in membership and fewer members offering their names to stand for executive positions. In March 2016, the four diocesan presidents, myself and past president Margaret McCallum formed a committee with the help of the National Development Fund to discuss the current situation of the League in New Brunswick with the possibility of restructuring the League by the disbanding of the four diocesan councils.
To date, committee members have traveled over 5,000 kilometres around the province to bring information to all members. The response from the local parish councils has been very favourable. There is still work to be done, and we will continue to dialogue with members until the committee work is completed in 2017.
Our goal is to send out a notice of motion in late fall to each parish council with an instructed vote on disbanding their diocesan council. We in New Brunswick expect that will closely unite the local parish councils with provincial and open up availability of members to serve on the executive. The voting delegates will carry votes in 2017, and provincial council will then act on the decision of its members. We ask for your prayers in this major endeavour and that whatever decision is made our province will continue to grow in One Heart, One Voice, One Mission.
At our annual provincial convention held in Moncton, we had the pleasure of National President Barbara Downing join us. Each diocesan president presented Barbara with a report from their diocese on their activities for “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”.
Our convention guest speaker was Dr. Pamela Mansfield, past president of New Brunswick Hospice Palliative Care Association who works at Horizon Health Network, Zone 1 in Moncton teaching education for palliative care. Dr. Mansfield spoke that palliative care is offering respect for the remaining years. It looks after the life of the whole person, living the best life they can. Advanced care planning is talking about your wishes, discussing the opportunities available, making sure there is communication between family members, living a quality life at home or in the hospital, discussing the fear of death and why we are afraid. She left us with a question: have you thought about your future care?
This year, the Diocese of Saint John celebrated its 95th anniversary, and a book was compiled called, And So We Go from Season to Season and is available for $15.00. A copy is located in the exhibit area. We invite you to stop by the table to review the booklet.
This concludes my report.
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial President Ruby Sharpe
WELCOME and Greetings from Newfoundland and Labrador!
The new annual report on line system was piloted in our province this past year. While there were advantages, the adjustment to the new system was a challenging one.
Councils across the province have engaged in a variety of activities to promote palliative care, inclusive of letter writing campaigns, attendance at the Palliative Care Association conference, education sessions, visitation and respite relief to families.
We are pleased to report a new hospice center for the province in Grand Falls-Windsor, a plan expedited by the generous donation of a building from the Presentation Sisters.
Our Provincial Prayer Wave, as part of National’s 12 hour of prayer for palliative care, was a huge success. We had members and their families, parishioners, residents of long term care and palliative care, and other service groups and denominations, praying across the province for palliative care from 8:45am – 9:30pm. A schedule was developed to ensure that each council had primary responsibility for a designated hour.
The Provincial Convention were held with much enthusiasm. Most Reverend Bishop Hundt (Bishop of Corner Brook and Labrador) delivered the keynote address on the moral implications of physician assisted dying.
There are two items arising from the convention:
- Motion that the Provincial President write the Provincial Premier to investigate the effects of our recent provincial budget on our marginalized citizens and the overall impact on social and economic well-being.
- Passing of a resolution 2016.04 Warning Labels on Drugs and Food Products.
In keeping with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, parish councils developed their own action plan to celebrate this special year and are involved in many corporal acts of mercy.
It is with great honour that our Provincial council participated in the July 1st Memorial Day ceremonies in laying a wreath at the National War Memorial in St. John’s. This years marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel where nearly 700 Newfoundland soldiers were killed or wounded. Several parish councils across the province participated in their community celebrations.
These initiatives have been in addition to the many “regular” activities of our League – the many donations to charities; the support of our parishes; lay ministries; and the promotion of spiritual growth. The Catholic Women’s League continues to demonstrate true leadership in important issues in our province, country and in the Catholic Church.
Nova Scotia Provincial President Peggy MacNeil
I am pleased and honoured to present my first oral report as president of the Nova Scotia Provincial Council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada. The CWL is alive and well here in Nova Scotia!
During the past year, prayers, support and dedication were evident among our 4,200 members as we prepared for the 2016 annual national convention to make sure that you enjoyed the best of our Nova Scotia hospitality.
In April and early May, our two diocesan councils held successful and productive conventions as they prayed, worked and celebrated their accomplishments with One Heart One Voice, One Mission.
The Antigonish annual diocesan convention was hosted by Our Lady of Fatima Parish Council in Sydney. A retreat was held in a monastery in June and its annual fall conference will be held in October, hosted by councils from Sydney Mines, North Sydney and Bras d’Or.
St. Clement Parish Council (Dartmouth) hosted the Halifax-Yarmouth annual diocesan convention. This being an election year, a full slate of officers was installed with Carolyn Lawrence as new diocesan president. One of Carolyn’s goals is to incorporate native spirituality into the League. A diocesan retreat is also planned for September.
In June, the annual provincial convention was held in Sydney hosted by Holy Redeemer Parish Council.
Fr. Bill Burke, pastor at St. Marguerite Bourgeois Parish in Sydney, spoke on the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, reminding us that during the challenges and questions facing us today we need to believe in a merciful God and to continue to give of ourselves in service through love and compassion.
Thank you to National President Barbara Dowding for a lovely video message during the annual provincial convention. It was much appreciated by our members.
Five members presented with their life membership included Shirley Campbell (Dartmouth), Toosje Van de Sande (Antigonish), Ann Myers (Kentville), Joline Belliveau (Yarmouth) and Peggy MacNeil (Sydney).
A new provincial executive was elected for the 2016-2018 term. Two resolutions were adopted: Resolution 2016.01 To Improve Access to Oral Health-Care for Nova Scotia Seniors and Resolution 2016.02 To Improve Access to Oral Health-Care for Vulnerable People in Canada.
A meeting is planned with the Nova Scotia minister of health, Leo Glavine, to discuss our resolution as well as other health issues of concern.
A leadership workshop titled “Linking Us Together” for our provincial and two diocesan executives will be held in October at the St. Joseph Renewal Centre in Mabou, Cape Breton. As members, we are linked together with love and fellowship at every level. Executive members will be given the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the League by sharing their faith and love for each other and for the League as they prepare, discuss, review and plan goals.
The legacy of service to the League here in Nova Scotia will be treasured for years to come.
Ontario Provincial President Pauline Krupa
The peril of writing reports is pondering over what is most important to say, so perhaps that is why this report proved to be a challenge. The 536 councils in the Province of Ontario accepted the task of our Blesseds Project for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Each diocesan council chose a Blessed proclaimed by Pope Francis to emulate for the year paying particular attention to the works of mercy. Standing committee chairpersons and officers were asked to choose a saint canonized by Pope Francis to emulate keeping in mind of the Beatitudes.
Over the year, councils aided the sick and poor with donations of time, money and supplies to local hospices, shelters, nursing homes and hospitals. Two neighbouring diocesan councils joined together to make, collect and donate blankets for new refugee families. In the central region, a parish created “A Lost Child Garden” as a place of serenity and prayer for those who have lost a child. Another diocesan council held a “Bridges to Relationships” workshop to encourage the effective strategies for interacting with one another. Other diocesan councils worked with those imprisoned, collecting spiritual books and other goodies, which were donated to detention centres. Purses were stuffed with basic-need supplies for women in shelters and coming out of jail. One diocesan council chose to dance, sing and pray with the sick and elderly. Many retreats were held over the year. In once diocesan councils, the members gathered along with St. Vincent de Paul Society and Knights of Columbus members for the purpose of increasing their knowledge of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
Children were the focus for some councils. Members worked together with students on a number of activities including visits with seniors, learning to make and pray the rosary, healthy eating and providing clothing for those in need. In the eastern part of the province, a diocesan council continues to support a young woman who single-handedly supports the people of Kenya. Her newest project is the “Women’s Empowerment Centre”—a place for girls to learn vocational and leadership skills.
In the northeast, the “Sole Hope” project cut over 1,500 pairs of denim shoes for Uganda. “Izzy Dolls” were made and donated to the armed forces for comforting sick and injured children in war-torn countries. Support for the newly arrive refugee families is a focus for many of the councils. Over 100 parish councils are presently supporting families in Ontario.
On May 4th, members across our province participated in the “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care.” On that very day, the provincial government meeting team was at Queen’s Park visiting with a number of ministers and their policy advisors. They took the time to stop and pray on site, supporting the national initiative.
Words cannot adequately describe our Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy day of celebration at the annual provincial convention in July. It was filled with action, prayer and reconciliation. We were gifted with nine spiritual advisors who provided the near 400 gathered with the Sacrament of Reconciliation.Together as one body in Christ, we celebrated the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy with One Heart, One Voice, One Mission.
As I conclude my report, I am honoured to present a binder of Ontario’s works of mercy for inclusion in national council’s spiritual bouquet that will be sent to Pope Francis.
Prince Edward Island Provincial President Irene Gallant
As provincial president, I am privileged to deliver this report on behalf of the Prince Edward Island Provincial Council. The past year has been busy but rewarding. Our council prepared and delivered four area meetings, two fall conferences and an all presidents’ meeting. Information at each of these meetings focused on our first year of One Heart, One Voice, One Mission, the national focus dealing with hospice/palliative care and our provincial focus on seniors. These were the cornerstones of our approach to providing information, learning from others and determining what challenges lay ahead. There was also time spent on annual reporting, revised provincial guidelines and an opportunity to have “like group” discussions. The all presidents’ meeting was held over a weekend, and it afforded them an opportunity to come together as a group to discuss their role in parish councils and share new ideas as well as concerns for the future. Of course, we ensured that there were fun and fellowship interjected into each meeting.
Our annual provincial convention was held in Charlottetown and delegates came from across PEI to listen to guest speakers, honour our deceased members and carry out the business of the convention. We had the privilege to have National President Barbara Dowding attend. In Barbara’s presentation, she talked about what it means to be a CWL member in 2016. She said that we are pilgrim people. The journey to our Father’s house can be long and difficult, fraught with failure and disappointment. The symbolism of passing through a Holy Door reminds us that we are being invited once more to seek forgiveness and receive His divine mercy. She also spoke of more effective ways in outreach ministry and education and the sacrament of the dying. From prayer to parliament, our voices must be heard. She continued with a question—so where is our voice when it comes to accepting a leadership role? Why do so few voices ring out a resounding “yes”? There were several questions that she posed that we discussed with one another, and a number of members shared comments. Barbara certainly gave us food for thought, and we thoroughly appreciated her taking the time to be with us. At the banquet, Bishop Richard Grecco (Charlottetown) challenged members and the Knights of Columbus to hold a joint pilgrimage on PEI to finish at the doors of the Basilica in Charlottetown. One new life member was commissioned, and one member received the Bellelle Guerin Award.
A spiritual focus is first and foremost an integral part of all our parish and provincial meetings and conferences. From bible studies, book reviews and attending the Scripture Institute, members brought a spiritual closeness to one another. Our provincial spiritual advisor has been available to travel to each parish to speak on the theme or other topics that they may have an interest in.
Although there were no resolutions put forward this past year, members made their voices heard as they developed and delivered a presentation to a provincial hearing on the proposed changes to the water act. This presentation was well received by the provincial environment committee.
At a “Volunteer and Donor Awards Ceremony” hosted by Hon. H. Frank Lewis, lieutenant governor of Prince Edward Island, one CWL council received the “Eileen Fulford Memorial Award.” This award is given to a community group that benefits the Canadian Cancer Society in some way. Since 2003, these members have been sewing the little pink pillows that are included in Reach To Recovery Kits for breast cancer patients.
PEI councils continued to support “Taking Care of Women’s Business,” supplying sanitary products to the food bank and women’s shelters. There was also support for men’s shelters and food banks and visits to senior homes with cards, gifts and music. This is a way for our members to be in contact with our older membership in homes. Members take an active role in a number of the continuing care facilities and hospitals by visiting and bringing communion to patients.
In preparation for the annual national convention in 2017 on PEI, our various committees have been meeting and working busily. All councils have been involved in some manner and are looking forward to the 2017 annual national convention.
The provincial council continues to be active on Facebook and our website, which contains relevant information. We are also part of the diocesan website. Of our 35 councils, presidents from almost all councils now have e-mail, so we communicate regularly with them and mail information to the other councils. Each executive member has a list of parish presidents to call several times per year to touch base and seek their input on provincial ideas and concerns. We have also had a very active postcard campaign for “Pornography Hurts” and members have made calls, sent e-mails and letters to the provincial government and our members of the legislative assembly to voice our opposition to the push for abortion on demand. Members are very supportive of the work of the right to life association regarding all life from conception to natural death. Hospice/palliative care is also a focus on PEI and, with a new provincial centre opened in 2015, many members have visited and toured the facility and volunteered their time and talents to assist patients and their families.
While our membership has declined slightly over the past year, we do have a number of councils reporting increases in membership, and this is very encouraging. We continue to discuss ideas to increase membership and to continue to encourage participation on the parish or provincial councils. This year, we celebrated many anniversaries and special occasions, but one parish council had a 90th anniversary. We also had one member receive her 75-year pin. A number of councils have undertaken or are planning a pilgrimage to celebrate a parish or council anniversary or to support March for Life.
Thank you to our members who are working in their parishes and communities to foster God’s Kingdom on Earth. May God continue to bless us.
Quebec Provincial President Ingrid Lefort
We are small but strong, growing older but renewing. This year has been a simple though busy year.
What do I mean? We had no resolutions this year, but we have stayed informed and worked towards several of our past resolutions and common actions linked to the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. We tried new things, and also brought back some tried and true methods of growing as League.
I know I cannot say and show you everything; I choose to share with you who we are and how we adapt to our context. Then, I will proudly show you pictures of what makes me smile on a gloomy day.
How small are we? If each of our parish councils were stars in the sky, we would be one inspiring constellation. Each council lights a candle in its parish, town, neighbourhood and spreads our voice as Catholic women to English speaking areas of our province and beyond. We are also spread out and need to communicate, to gather to support one another.
Two of our provincial workshops offered training to our members and leaders. One was specifically about computers, technology and collaboration—the other was for leadership in the League. These times together sparked interest in scheduling more workshops and gathering resource people together to share their knowledge and experience.
Our third provincial workshop focused on the resolution inviting us to build relationships with our First Nations sisters. The elements of this workshop focused more on identity, storytelling and compassion as opposed to learning skills or techniques. This was an experience that opened our minds and hearts. We wish to continue growing deeper in our mutual understanding of one another.
Many of the elements we did can also be shared in parish councils or with local groups. Two of them that stood out were the faceless doll project—crafting a felt doll that represents the missing aboriginal women as a gesture of solidarity and prayer in communion with the many women that go unaccounted— and the second, the blanket exercise, is a way of hearing the history of the land and its peoples by being active participants. Certain elements of our shared history become very concrete through some of the gesture or visual elements in this activity prepared by KAIROS, an ecumenical organization.
We also participated in the May “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”, in downtown Montreal. The basilica had people praying during business hours, on the south shore, and a parish had 12 hours of consecutive payer in their chapel. Councils and members prayed in different ways on that day.
What next? Each liturgical year brings with it specific events and traditions we all know and love, but what will be new or different next year?
Reporting will be new. We will try and have all parishes use the online reporting surveys. I hope we can develop ways to have diocesan or provincial reports that respond to what is most needed.
In order to accomplish any of this, as well as seek out answers together, we will try expanding our provincial midterm to include all parish presidents. Here I remind you that we are not so numerous, and work together at shaping what will help our parish and diocesan councils to grow, or when growth is not possible, to adapt to the current context of our members.
I do truly believe that there are many answers out there. The Lord may already have revealed some of them to some of our members, but the Spirit will guide us to put all the pieces of the puzzle together as we gather often and put our hearts and minds together.
Saskatchewan Provincial President Jean Reader
Where do you find the hardest working women in Canada? I would say they are the women in our CWL parish councils. When I look at the annual reports from the various dioceses, I am amazed at what is going on in our province. Not only do they do the “day to day” tasks of running their councils, but they take on many other jobs, and I am not referring to bake sales and funeral lunches. Many are involved with “Dress-A-Girl-Around-the–World” where these dresses are sent overseas for those less fortunate. Many women in our province were making quilts for those who lost everything in the forest fires of northern Saskatchewan last year, this year it is flooding in various towns and villages.
The CWL Clothing Depot in Saskatoon this year celebrated its 50th Anniversary, a worthwhile project with devoted women donating their time and effort to keep this endeavour going.
Our number of paid-up provincial members for this year is at 6,974, which is a slight loss.
Prince Albert Diocese 921
Regina Diocese 3,277
Saskatoon Diocese 2,776
It is wonderful to see our participation in World Day of Prayer, ecumenical meetings, Remembrance Day plus many other activities where we interacted with people of other faiths. One thing that comes out of these meetings time and time again is that we have to strive not only in our own parishes but with other churches and organizations to bring our Christian values to the forefront in our communities, provinces, territories and country. If you do not believe that we have lots of work to do, just listen to the news or read the newspapers.
Catholic education is being attacked from all sides for not being “inclusive” enough. It does not matter that we are working hard to adapt to the changes that are being demanded of us because of people’s “rights.” Sometimes I really wonder where our rights are and why are they being trampled underfoot and ridiculed! Changes come slowly but our society today demands instant gratification, and if you do not conform fast enough, you are cursed and derided because of that. Heaven forbid we should take the time to think things over!
We have really done a lot of work on the euthanasia question: we have written letters, had meetings and conducted workshops. Our members have read lots of material on palliative care to become more knowledge on the subject. At our annual provincial convention, we had one speaker who dealt with euthanasia and the second, a physician, who spoke on palliative care —both were very interesting and well received by all. The more we learn, the better equipped we are.
January was a very sad month for us as Archbishop Daniel Bohan (Regina) passed away after a long fight with cancer. The cathedral was overflowing with people from not only his own parish but people of all faiths and cultures. His indigenous brothers gave him a special farewell. He had a grand “send-off.” And now we welcome Bishop Don Bolen, formerly from Saskatoon, as our new archbishop.
Another year has gone by and so for the last time, I wish you all the best … One Heart, One Voice, One Mission—all for the glory of God.