2012 Annual Report – Community Life

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2012 Annual Report
Community Life
Fran Lucas

Sub-committee chairpersons:

  • Life Member Diane Lemay – Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
  • Life Member Nancy Simms – Human Trafficking

Members exemplified being Centred on Faith & Justice as they gave generously of their time and efforts locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.

Dignity and rights of persons
Members wrote letters to all levels of government regarding, prostitution, human trafficking and bullying. Workshops were attended and speakers were invited to council meetings on issues of women’s rights, persons with disabilities and First Nations people. Human trafficking and sexual child abuse information was shared through presentations at conventions and with the use of information packages from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

At the local level various projects were undertaken. Councils collected soft drink tabs for wheelchair programs. Internationally, eyeglasses were collected for Operation Eyesight International and shoes were collected for Soles4Souls Canada. A seminar was co-hosted with the Knights of Columbus on human trafficking and global poverty.

Social and economic justice
Groups worked at or supported drop-in centres, local soup kitchens, Meals on Wheels, Out of the Cold centres and had boxes of clothing sent to northern missions for an Aboriginal community as well as to a local youth shelter.

Several councils incorporated one meeting into a visit to a local food bank to donate perishables and stock shelves. Others donated funds or supplied a meal at a Habitat for Humanity build or multi-faith housing initiatives. Many members participated in a walk for poverty and sold Fair Trade products at meetings and conventions.

Adding to the lengthy list of initiatives by members was support of St. Vincent de Paul Society, a women’s prison, Covenant House, L’Arche Community, school breakfast or lunch programs, dinners for those living in poverty and growing produce for donation to a food bank. Discussion was generated on pension eligibility and services to rural communities.

Refugees, immigration and citizenship
Immigrant families were often sponsored by councils and helped to settle in the community. They were given gifts of seasonal clothing as well as household goods.  Immigrant and foreign workers were invited to parish activities and League meetings, taught English, offered babysitting services, offered help with the completion of forms and tax returns and assisted in finding suitable housing. One council welcomed its first immigrant member to its executive and held a Canadian style bridal shower prior to her wedding in India. To foster familiarity with Canadian refugee and immigration rules local agencies’ representatives were invited to give presentations at council meetings.

Hosting receptions for citizenship court remained popular with members leaving them feeling a real connection with this service. Councils remembered and supported the military through prayer and wearing red on Friday. The selling of poppies and placing of wreaths at the cenotaph on Remembrance Day was identified as a moving experience.

Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP)
Individual members and councils worked hard to raise funds, participate in Share Lent and support CCODP’s education campaigns. Presentations were given on access to potable water, parishes were alerted to federal funding cutbacks to CCODP and similar non-governmental organizations and response was given to South African and Haiti relief appeals. Councils supported CCODP with one percent of their revenues, collected stamps, and fundraised with hunger suppers and solidarity soup lunches. Monthly collections at meetings also added to the donations. Members served on local CCODP boards. In Quebec, members wrote letters to the federal government regarding funding cuts to the Canadian Catholic Organization of Development and Peace and included a loony, asking government to match each donation.

Developing countries
Councils sponsored foster children from developing nations like Rwanda and encouraged members to become foster parents. Councils sponsored families in India, Dominion Republic, Malawi, Ghana and Philippines. Council-supported projects included a Nigerian orphanage and missions in Africa, Nicaragua, Peru and Guatemala.

International aid groups that councils supported were numerous. Some were Chalice, Habitat for Humanity, Save a Family Plan, Child Care International, Operation Christmas Child, the work of religious orders in Peru, Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group and Canadian Food for Children.

Items collected and sent to developing countries included bras, children’s undergarments, blankets, children’s dresses made from pillowcases, along with many more items.

One council sponsored a young woman who went to work in an orphanage in Kenya and another held a girl’s night out for Ratanak International, a Canadian Christian organization that rescues children from the sex trade in Cambodia. Yet another supported a medical student in Mozambique. Some councils supported Doctors Without Borders. The creativity of members was evidenced by one council’s members who recycled all summer and gave $5,000 to Bishop Denis Croteau (McKenzie-Fort Smith) for a clean water project in Africa.

Many great things were accomplished and continued to happen across Canada because of the loving and caring members in councils. These actions gave much hope to many.