Adventures with Anne – National President Anne-Marie Gorman, September 2018

September 20, 2018

Adventures with Anne

And so the adventure has begun and I am one month into my term. As of August 16th, I chaired my first national board meeting in Winnipeg, following a wonderful convention filled with beautiful liturgies, inspiring speakers, and lots of fun. The difference between pre and post-convention was the amount of time I got to spend speaking informally with members as they prepared for home or extended stays in Manitoba. What an opportunity to meet the husbands, friends and relatives of my League sisters Canada-wide, as my husband and I made our way to what became a late lunch on Thursday. After a little nap (two hours – apparently I was tuckered out after all) while John went for a long walk, we walked to the Forks to enjoy nature and a quiet dinner.

Barely home, there were e-mails with questions to answer from the office, board members and members across Canada. My makeshift office was re-established at the cottage, and binders were divided for the many aspects of life for the next two years. The settling of a small condominium in Fredericton will be ongoing, but it will mean having a place to call home; cataract surgery and a funeral completed the round of personal activities around my League service.

I have completed my first official trip to the National Conference of Catholic Women (NCCW) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where more than 600 women gathered from across the United States to celebrate efforts over the past year under the three commissions of spirituality, leadership and service. How exciting to take greetings from the League’s more than 80,000 members and to give them a brief overview of our convention. I got a wonderful applause of affirmation and some “whohoos” when I held up the fruits of our two years of labour: The Catholic Women’s League of Canada Plans Strategically: 2018-2022. I carried the hearts of all my Canadian sisters, and met women of faith who share the same faith. I met Joyce from St. Louis at breakfast the first morning. She and I chatted about their group of eight, along with their spiritual advisor who came to Pittsburgh for information and inspiration for the journey. I met Jean Kelly, president-elect and chair of the convention, who made time to chat in the foyer and direct me to the relevant sessions. I met Mary McKenna from Barrington, Illinois, a young woman who is president of a financial services company; Cindy Perry, a province director from Washington and Catholic Daughters of the Americas regent, Helene Shepard, and Young Ladies Grand Institute, the oldest in America. Theresa Boscia, the NCCW representative to the United Nations, sought me out so we would know each other when we attend the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization (WUCWO). Walking the area around the hotel where I got to see Pirates and Steelers stadia, visiting the farmers’ market, and enjoying the weather similar to Canada’s this summer, gave me a feeling of warmth and welcome.

While in Pennsylvania, the issue of the latest abuse scandal was addressed by national president Maribeth Stewart Blogoslawski, as well as the keynote speakers. The agenda would not be overwhelmed by debate on the subject, but all in attendance were cognizant of the pain that would be felt by victims and Catholics nationwide. Maribeth is both gracious and calm, and made it a point to visit with me several times during the busy conference.

Going to the airport I met an interesting pastor with a soft voice who shared his beliefs after having a weekend hiatus at a Steelers football game with his wife of 35 years. The adventure to the airport on the airport shuttle saw my glasses leaving me at some point upon disembarking, so I await with faith that will come through and return them to me via Canada Post soon. Being alone in an airport for a few hours gives one lots of time to review, regenerate, and pray, when not watching and wondering who people are and where they are going. The small Air Canada plane held the small number of us comfortably for the little more than an hour flight to Montreal. Customs was made easier with my newly processed Nexus card, after which I enjoyed a simple salad of disproportionate cost, and moved with my luggage to my gate to await my on time flight to Moncton. I arrived home around midnight.

Next weekend, I will travel to Cornwall, by way of a short visit to Ottawa to see one of my children and three of my little ones, to attend the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) Plenary, along with twelve other observer group representatives. It will be good to see our spiritual advisor, Bishop Stephen Jensen (Prince George), again, and to share time with the other observers during a luncheon and meeting Tuesday afternoon before my departure.

On this beautifully sunny morning that the Lord has made, I will let this diary entry marinate for a bit and go for a twelve km walk – “unplugged” so as to absorb the sounds of the creatures God has made, the sights of green trees and quiet woodland paths, and the scents of late summer. The work will be here on my computer upon my return. Whatever state I find myself in, I must give thanks for the gifts of fresh air and sunshine, and for the ability to be able to serve my church and the members of the League as best I can. I have to pinch myself so as to know this is not a dream from which I will awake. The two years will go quickly I am told by many predecessors, so I will attempt to chronicle them well for reflection when the journey ends. For now, the adventure continues.