2011 Annual Report – National President

National President
Velma Harasen
2011 Annual Report

2011 proved to be another activity-filled year as members of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, Centred on Faith & Justice, served the people of God, especially the poor and marginalized. The amazing reports from provincial presidents documented the varied activities that took place. The theme, Centred on Faith & Justice, was well received and councils actively embraced the focus on Women Against Poverty. Members strove to educate themselves about poverty issues in society; they learned and took action!

“Change for Change” was promoted in April with pockets and purses emptied of change to make a difference in the life of the poor in each community. Supporting refugees and the homeless and donating to shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, hospitals and seniors’ homes along with many other creative initiatives contributed materially, spiritually and emotionally to the marginalized. Each national officer dealt with poverty as it related to her particular standing committee and this amazing work is highlighted in their reports. One provincial annual report concluded by stating, “Our councils have not only embraced our theme Centred on Faith & Justice but have proven their understanding of what it means by all the wonderful work they do to make lives better for those who are in need.”
Spirituality continued to play a significant role in the life of councils, and members were actively involved in parish life.

Membership remained stable. The League continued to gain new members which was very gratifying, but over 9,000 members did not renew their membership or transferred to the great council in heaven! New councils were welcomed including a second university council.

Numerous workshops were held nationwide. The three leadership workshops provided by the national executive were presented in many diocesan councils and were well received. As a follow-up, an ad hoc committee was struck to develop a more aggressive campaign to be introduced at the 92nd annual national convention.

Members’ concerns were demonstrated through the support of resolutions and monitoring legislation, along with letter writing to all levels of government.

I was part of the delegation to Parliament Hill to present the 2011 Resolutions Brief and concerns to federal ministers and representatives as well as members in opposition. The delegation was commended on members’ efforts and encouraged to continue expressing members’ views by writing letters and meeting with lawmakers.

The annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops was held in Cornwall, Ontario where the League has observer status. The major presentation was on two apostolic exhortations,Verbum Domini (The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church) and Sacramentum Caritatis(The Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission) presented by Most Rev. Robert LeGall, O.S.B., Archbishop of Toulouse in France.

I attended the Trauma and Transformation conference sponsored by McGill’s Centre for Research and Religion through the initiative of Sr. Nuala Kenny, emeritus professor of bioethics at Dalhousie University. Some 20 speakers brought their expertise and experience into dialogue on the crisis and challenge of the clerical abuse scandal. The speakers examined the causes, what has been learned from this tragic situation and how to move forward.

I attended the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops National Forum with Catholic Movements and Associations held at the Queen of Apostles Renewal Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Under the themeWitness of Communion, the forum brought together people who serve the church in a variety of ways to explore a common vision.

National First Vice-President Barbara Dowding and I represented the League at the National Council of Catholic Women’s annual convention in Chicago, Illinois. The theme Campaign for Human Dignity – Love in Action was portrayed through a variety of speakers and workshops.

The League was represented at several forums sponsored by Dignity for All urging the federal government to take action to alleviate all forms of poverty. Members were also represented at a conference on establishing an Office of Religious Freedom sponsored by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

As members move forward to another year of sisterhood and service, Centred on Faith & Justice, let us be grateful for all that we have. As one provincial council noted, they are women filled with faith and fun! It is our challenge to continue facilitating leadership training and to convey the vast potential that The Catholic Women’s League of Canada has to be God’s loving and healing hands throughout the world.