2010 Annual Report – National President

National President
Velma Harasen
2010 Annual Report

The highlight of 2010 was marking the 90 th anniversary of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada and celebrations culminated at the annual national convention in Ottawa August 8 th -11 th . Members gathered to celebrate the Eucharist, learn from speakers and presentations, hear reports, adopt resolutions and mingle with friends old and new. Members across the country came adorned in dress depicting the fashions of the past nine decades. Twelve honorary life members joined in celebrating the League’s legacy since 1920 and gathered around the anniversary cake to reminisce. These faith-filled women of vision saw the need for “service to the people of God” and established the roots of this great organization.

As Women of Peace and Hope , members across the country were involved in a magnitude of activities supporting the families and communities. Council members were active in parish ministries and prayerfully supported each other. The endless spiritual and corporal works of mercy that occur at the parish level are documented in amazing annual reports. As you read the reports included in this book you will get a taste of some of the activities as presented by provincial presidents and chairpersons of standing committees. As I read through the reports, I was overwhelmed with the innovative ways councils worked “For God and Canada” – donating over 200 backpacks filled with personal hygiene items for the homeless; organizing sessions at schools to teach about the problems of human trafficking; working at a mission and sorting clothing for distribution to the homeless; participating in Canadian Blood Services’ Partners for Life program; putting special emphasis on protecting the environment; offering financial assistance to a young woman in need who had to relocate to Toronto while she awaited a double lung transplant; sponsoring an annual social justice award; having a province-wide study of female saints to help members learn more about their faith history; the list goes on and on! Retreats, workshops, League development days, days of reflection and active participation in parish ministries continued to play an important role.

Sisters continued their efforts in support of life at all stages, from conception to natural death. They registered their opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide by writing letters opposing Bill C-384 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity) which would have legalized euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Membership increased in three provincial councils while the remaining councils showed a minimal decrease. B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council enjoyed its ninth straight year with an increase and rejoiced in two new parish councils, with three more in the works. Perhaps all councils need to tap into the secret of this success!

For the 37 th consecutive year, the League met with the federal government to present resolutions. A delegation of three met with ministers and policy advisors as well as the prime minister. The delegation was encouraged to communicate with the federal government on a more frequent basis and, as individuals, to address concerns directly with members of parliament who represent all Canadians.

An unforgettable experience was being among 31 Canadians, joining almost 500 women from 60 countries at the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations Centenary Assembly in Jerusalem in November. Pilgrims participated in visits to holy sites, daily reflections and speakers. Prayer became a common language while walking with sisters around the world. Pilgrims were reminded to pray for the people of the Middle East, particularly the Christians who are leaving due to the conflict.

A delegation attended the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) 90 th anniversary convention in Washington, D.C. Numerous workshops were offered prior to the business sessions. NCCW reported a financial deficit and issued a plea for membership recruitment.

I attended the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) annual plenary sessions in Cornwall, Ontario. President, Bishop Pierre Morissette gave his report, noting the joy over the canonization of Brother André with 5,000 Canadian pilgrims in attendance. He spoke of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops , the need to find ways to encourage the faithful in the Holy Land and noted the work done by Caritas and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). Reports were presented by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), CCODP and Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council. Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, spoke on challenges facing Muslims and religious and political differences. This was followed by a panel dealing with Catholic-Muslim relations. One panelist noted “CWL has a special role to play” and asked that the League team up with Muslim women in order to learn from each other. His Excellency the Most Rev. Pedro Lopez Quintana apostolic nuncio to Canada, spoke to the assembly, and the day concluded with a reception and dinner in his honour.

The League was represented at the Canadian Health Alliance of Canada conference, the Women’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church in Canada annual conference and the CCCB ad hoc Committee on Life and Family. I was also pleased that the League was represented at the annual Coady benefit dinner in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Members’ hesitancy to accept leadership roles remained a dilemma. Councils at the parish, diocesan and provincial levels continued to face the challenge of filling executive positions. Mentoring and “job-sharing” proved beneficial, however, the League continued to be faced with the task of engaging the talent that is out there!