2008 Annual Report – Organization

2008 Annual Report of 
National Chairperson of Organization
Velma Harasen

National Life Member Liaison – Shirley Bernier

All reports received from the 11 provincial chairpersons confirmed an active and zealous year, with recruiting and retaining members as a continuing priority.

Recruit Members and Maintain Membership 
Total paid membership for the year 2008 was 97,586. Two provincial councils increased membership while several provinces remained close in number to the previous year. The League gained 7,016 new members and 1,579 re-instated members. It is sad to report that 8,481 women did not renew their membership and 1,038 League sisters died.

Total number of councils was 1,308, six of which were new and three were reactivated. Ten councils became inactive and 12 disbanded.

Recruiting activities
Personal contact continued to be the most popular and effective method of recruiting members. Presentations were made at mass, with members as lectors, ushers and Eucharistic ministers, wearing their scarves and pins. Laptop computers were used to display pictures of events. Social events were held outside of meeting nights. In some parish councils, letters were sent to every woman over 16 years of age encouraging them to join. Recruitment blitzes were held in January with members available to answer questions after mass. Recruitment posters were used. Welcome Sundays with information booths and a DVD playing proved to be popular. Membership envelopes were included with the regular Sunday envelopes. A visible presence in parish activities provided a positive image and encouraged non-members to find out more about the League. Free membership draws were offered, if members renewed before an early deadline. Women of the parish were invited to meetings with guest speakers and social components. Membership for youth was subsidized. Women new to a parish received a free one-year membership. Postage-paid envelopes were provided for remitting membership fees. Membership forms with return envelopes were included in the parish tax receipt letters. Advertisements, sometimes full-page, were published in the parish bulletin. Memberships were given as gifts or a thank you. The names of new members and the members that sponsored were placed in a draw for a manicure. New members welcomed by placing their names in the bulletin

Maintaining members activities
Members celebrated special events such as installations, Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and social events such as pot luck suppers, and Christmas and wind-up parties. One parish council paid per capita fees for a member who could not afford them. Shut-in members were visited and ?secret pal? systems were organized. Per capita fees were paid for seniors in nursing homes. Carpooling was arranged for meetings and activities. Door prizes were provided and social time organized after meetings. Maple leaf service pins, certificates of merit and anniversary pins were presented. Speakers, workshops and programs were held at meetings. Newsletters were distributed to keep members informed. Birthday cards were sent that included an invitation to come to the next meeting. Meeting times were flexible. Concerted effort was made to follow-up on memberships not renewed. Members sat beside a different person at each meeting and conversed with at least three members so that no one left a meeting feeling lonely or ignored.

Leadership Development 
Sixteen parish councils received funds from the National Development Fund for a total of close to $20,000. Members attended fall conferences, regional meetings, annual conventions, various workshops, leadership development days and spring spiritual days. One councils held a workshop to give members confidence to assume positions of leadership. Mentoring programs were run and members’ costs subsidized to attend courses, conventions and training sessions.

League Resource Material 
Resource material was available at all levels including communiqués which were well-received, reported on and discussed at meetings. Many parish councils used The Canadian League as well as provincial and diocesan newsletters; copies were passed on to non-members. The Web site was referred to by some parish councils that designated one member to retrieve material for use at monthly meetings. Adopted resolutions were taken to meetings for discussion.

Resource material used included the National Manual of Policy and ProcedureConstitution & Bylaws,Leading the League, DVD For God and CanadaThe Catholic Women’s League of Canada 1990-2005: companions on the journeyExecutive Handbook and Handbook for Organization Chairpersons.

Annual Reports 
There was an increase in the number of parish councils where the executive met to complete annual reports, helping each another and avoiding repetition in the reports. It was a very positive experience and made the work less onerous. A designated member would keep track of everything done during the year as reference material. Some parish council executives met in January to set goals for the year and plan for guest speakers and annual events, thus making it easier to write annual reports at year end. Annual reports allowed councils the opportunity to evaluate work done during the year and to ascertain whether or not they were achieving the Objects of the League.

Life Members
There were 12 honorary life members and 324 life members. Five life members passed away: Edna Bingham (Ontario), Norma Donavan (Ontario), Jean Keating (Manitoba), Helena Toner (New Brunswick) and Jean Watson (Ontario). Fourteen new life memberships were awarded.

Prayer requests were a high priority and is the one activity in which all life members could participate in, be they physically active or not. With the permission of the life member or her family, prayer requests in times of illness or loss of a life member or a member of her family were reported to the national life member liaison who then distributed the information to provincial life member liaisons who in turn advised life members all across Canada.

Life members served on national, provincial and diocesan executives and their sub-committees, assisted with Web sites, facilitated workshops, made presentations, acted as guest speakers, were available as mentors and willing to offer direction on league matters and support to members. They represented the League at various conferences held across the country. Honorary Life Member Agnes Bedard continued to be North American Regional Vice President for the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations. Life Member Eleanor Arless was appointed to the Women’s Inter-Church Council by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Several life members served as parliamentarians at conventions.

In 2008, the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, with the expertise of Manifest Communications, launched the development of a strategy to help build the League’s profile and set the stage for short-term and long-term membership development.  Identifying the League’s unique values proposition and the recommended new ideas, the national executive held several consultations with Manifest regarding the implementation process.

In the words of Manifest Communications: ?There is excitement and energy for renewal.  Faith, Fun andFulfillment is at the heart of what we stand for ? now we just need to surface this. The CWL could be so much more.  It just needs to share what it is already great at – spirituality, social connections and service.?

The gift of the Catholic Women’s League can be shared with every woman in every parish.  All members are called to rise to the challenge!