2011 Annual Report – Education and Health

Education and Health Standing Committee
Pearl Bridgwater, Chairperson
2011 Annual Report

Catholic Education: Catholic Schools and Catechesis
The importance of a good Catholic education was documented nationwide. One province had 13 members serving as trustees on school boards and 35 members on school committees. Members of this province also protested the disbanding of Catholic and other faith-based education in favour of a more secular one. They wrote letters to the minister of education and sent postcards to the premier and other ministers asserting their right to Catholic schools.

One council organized an open house for the public; the children prepared an international evening reflecting on the different ethnic groups of the school. One council donated $500.00 to the Catholic school library. Where there were no Catholic schools, members assisted by teaching catechism classes and funding the needs of the religious education program. Members financially supported Coady International Institute and Newman Theological College.

Catholic Education: Rites of Christian Initiation
Members participated in the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) programs as team leaders, animators, sponsors and participants. Some promoted the League with one-year paid memberships to women candidates who successfully completed the RCIA program. All councils offered prayers for the candidates. Members organized, led, assisted and/or participated as catechists for children’s liturgy.

Literacy and Continuing Education
Literacy programs were supported financially and by members volunteering their services as tutors for challenged students, both young and adult. Some members taught English as a second language classes. During education month, one council read and reviewed books and then raffled off the books to members.

Scholarships and Bursaries
Councils at all levels continued to provide bursaries and scholarships at all levels of education. In one province money was given to needy councils to support their scholarships. One council in Nova Scotia offered two bursaries, one named for Marguerite Burns the first member from Nova Scotia to become national president and one in honour of a parish priest. Members were made aware of bursaries and programs to encourage self improvement. One council presented a financial award to a graduate whose mother or grandmother was a member. One council awarded a certificate of recognition plus a monetary gift to two outstanding students for their involvement in parish life. Members from New Brunswick gave a total of $12,827.10!

The following support for the National Bursary Fund was gratefully received.
Estate of Mary M. Macdonald,
Surrey, British Columbia                                   $1,000.00
St. Anne Parish Council,
Windsor, Ontario [disbanded]                               731.15
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Council,
Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador          50.00
St. Columbus Parish Council, East Point,
Prince Edward Island                                             25.00

Wellness and Sickness/Disease
Guest speakers were invited to inform members on health and safety issues. Topics included recycling, medication for the elderly, Alzheimer’s, palliative care, heart and stroke awareness, tissue and blood donations, embryonic stem cell research, mental health, diabetes and nutrition.

Members were encouraged to act responsibly by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying active. Health issues were addressed through donations and education, especially the sharing of relevant Web sites. Support was given to MaterCare International, Catholic Health Alliance of Canada, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Canadian Diabetes Association, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Canadian Cancer Society, The Terry Fox Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation, malaria prevention programs, palliative care and hospice programs, Alzheimer Society of Canada, The Arthritis Society and the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada

Community events such as blood drives and breast cancer screening were promoted and members were encouraged to be blood donors, with 400 units of blood being donated. A prayer line was set up by one council for community members to call for help or just to talk. Members in Nova Scotia were given the 811 health link service which provides health care updates.

Councils acknowledged World Day of the Sick with mass and lunch. Mental Health Week was supported with prayers, bookmarks and monetary contributions. Members volunteered at hospitals and clinics.

Issues that warranted e-mails, petitions, letters and telephone calls to government included the closure of nursing home beds in Ontario.

Environment
Members promoted care of the environment. They encouraged others to shop locally, used reusable shopping bags and biodegradable products and composted. Members picked up garbage on daily walks, collected egg cartons for a local farmer, recycled plastic bags, collected tabs for a wheelchair and used tap water instead of bottled water. Meetings were scent free and environmentally friendly cleaning products were used. Members were encouraged to wear gloves during all kitchen food preparations. Carpooling or public transport to meetings and conventions was encouraged.

Members were asked to “lug-a-mug” to meetings. They supported Earth Day; lights were turned off for an hour. One council handed out a brochure outlining the top ten actions members could take to help the environment. Councils recycled clothing and donated the clothing to thrift stores.

Genetics
Members monitored and studied the advantages and disadvantages of scientific developments as they relate to the teachings of the Catholic church. Letters were written to the federal government concerning stem cell research. Information was reviewed on genetic testing of babies in the womb and genetically modified seeds and engineered crops. Members were encouraged to review the Catholic Organization for Life and Family Web site and brochures.

National Chairperson’s Activities

  • Compiled and sent communiqués
  • Wrote articles for The Canadian League including “Diabetes” and “Shedding Light on Greenwash”

Action on Resolutions

Councils wrote letters and sent e-mails to members of parliament regarding respect and protection of human embryos and human reproductive material.