2008 Annual Report – Laws

2008 Annual Report of 
National Chairperson of Laws
Lorette Noble

It is quite obvious that provincial past presidents know how to write an annual report! In a nutshell, they know what the Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) says is expected (hoped?) of them and they record what they have done this past year to meet these expectations. They are to be commended on being excellent examples to us all.

Service in a consultative capacity meant being available, willing and able to support, assist and encourage their presidents, and the reports indicate that this is happening at all levels. Nearly all past presidents were chairpersons of their elections committees and worked hard at encouraging members at the previous level to put their names forward. When new presidents were elected, the past presidents frequently became their mentors. Past president have also served on committees, for example, resolutions committees. They have given workshops and most have remained active in their parish councils.

Of course the person most likely to request advice was their current president and past presidents found this a very fulfilling role. Therefore, it was all the more sad when, in some instances, they were not called upon for consultation and advice. Sensitivity on both sides, each validating the role of the other, is key to enriching one’s work in the League. Terms of office are such that it’s not long at all before a president becomes a past-president!

Being responsible for archives and history was a vital and growing part of past presidents’ activity. Those with no experience or expertise in this area made it a point to enlist those who did to help them in this work. What was accomplished this past year with archives at all levels was very impressive.

Starting at the national level, a new sub-committee was established and its first job was to begin to organize, catalogue and prepare to send to the Archives of Manitoba materials from the past 15 years, a gargantuan task, which neared the desired “state of maintenance”. Reports from all the other levels, including parish councils, indicated that they were becoming increasingly aware of the importance not only of organizing the materials that made up the story of their past, but also of ensuring that these archives were kept safely, and that at least each president and past president had an index of materials and records stored and their location.

Some councils required their presidents to write a summary of highlights of their term of office. A transition is occurring from scrapbooks to history books, though “scrap booking”, as a professional approach to maintaining records permanently and safely is being learned. Several past presidents realized that training in archives maintenance is necessary and this will increasingly become a focus for action.

The national booklet Archives Guidelines for League History: Provincial, Diocesan and Parish Councilsgave useful hints on what to keep. Some councils compiled their own lists and added them to their manuals of policy and procedure.

Storage was a concern and there was a growing movement away from keeping archives in a box at home or in a church basement. Some councils even began to deposit their documents in provincial and territorial archives. Where this was not feasible, councils now realized that archival materials should be stored in filing cabinets, preferably safe from fire hazards.

Photograph albums and media articles were often made available for display at conventions, making sure they indicated the names and dates of past events. Some parish councils displayed League artifacts in the parish church or hall, which was an excellent way to make the League visible in the parish community. One parish council displayed pictures of its presidents, past and present.

Facilitating the study and implementation of the Constitution & Bylaws, past presidents were very conscious of the value of the C&B and believed that every member should have a copy, though reports indicated that this was not necessarily the case. However, several councils called upon their past presidents to give workshops or else speak a few minutes at general meetings on one or more points in the C&B. One parish council found that using quizzes to explain and initiate discussion on the C&B was an interesting way to de-mystify it. All acknowledged that this little booklet is an excellent guide on how the League should and, on the whole, does function.

The National Manual of Policy and Procedure (P&P) expands on the C&B and was found to be a very useful tool, especially at elections time. Several councils have begun writing their own P&P following the national model which itself follows the order of the C&B. Those that have already done so are discovering that they need updating at specific intervals. One provincial past president gave a PowerPoint workshop at her provincial convention on how to prepare a parish council P&P, building on Honorary Life Member Lucille Cullen’s earlier workshop. This workshop was in demand in that province.

Among their other duties, past presidents were often called upon to use their experience and knowledge to help recruit new members and approach lapsed members and encourage them “to return to the fold”. Mentoring these members and others, when called upon, played a major role in most past presidents’ activities, one they seem to enjoy and find fulfilling.

My own experience in this role has taught me that one never quite has the answer to every question that is posed on the League, whether it be related to the C&B or to what one assumes should be the normal, everyday functioning of the League. One continues to learn and grow through sharing in the experiences of others.

Past presidents realized, all too quickly, that their active role in their council did not cease when they passed on their president’s pin. They continued to attend their council meetings regularly, often on two or three levels, since one can be elected to office at the next level when one becomes past president at the previous level, and all are members of parish councils, very aware that the strength of the League comes from this grass roots level.