2012 Annual Report – National President

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National President
Betty Anne Brown Davidson

Every second year in the League the old theme ties up its loose ends as members formulated plans on how to roll out the new theme the next two years. Thus members discover a creative harmony as they continued to do marvelous things “For God and Canada.”

Initial steps to establish the Catholic Women’s League Leadership Foundation were undertaken, prompted by a generous offer from the Sisters of Service. Plans were underway to issue tax receipts for donations and train Catholic women in the skills necessary for them to take their place at boardroom tables and positions of influence in business, politics and social services in Canada.

The latter part of the year benefitted by the excitement generated by Catch the Fire!, the new membership awareness program. In a spirit of joy, fires of excitement about the League have dotted the map of Canada as more and more Catch the Fire! presentations were offered to members. This multi-media, one-day event, launched at the annual national convention, offers members an experience of the faith, fellowship and fulfillment treasures hidden in membership.

The annual national convention in Edmonton had a total registration of 906. Two letters were written from the floor of the convention to the prime minister:

  • Opposing Canadian International Development Agency’s funding cuts to faith-based organizations
  • Expressing members’ deep concern about the living conditions of First Nations and Inuit communities.

The sudden death of Fr. Joseph Christenson, the spiritual advisor to Halifax-Yarmouth Diocesan Council, cast a bittersweet feeling over the gathering. The World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO) and the national pro-life funds were discontinued as national voluntary funds. Two resolutions were adopted:

  • Criminalization of the Purchasing of Sexual Services
  • Employment Insurance Benefits for Adoptive Mothers

Bill C-4 the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act necessitated preparation for several changes to the Constitution & Bylaws, requiring compliance by October 2014.

The national executive was happy to see the increased use of the online membership facility. Membership and numbers of parish councils decreased slightly due to parish clustering, the deaths of faithful members and non-renewals of memberships.

League representatives attended and submitted reports on a variety of conferences:

  • National roundtable Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry and Canadian Catholic Students’ Association
  • “What’s Next: How Do We Address Poverty in Canada?”  Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty-Free Canada
  • Women’s Inter-Church Council
  • Catholic Organization for Life and Family  conference
  • Coady Community Leaders Club
  • 2nd national Catholic Conference on Resettlement focusing on refugees

There was great excitement, especially in Quebec, over the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, North America’s first Aboriginal saint, on October 21, 2012 in Rome. This prompted councils to look at First Nations’ customs, prayers and presence in their midst.

On your behalf, I attended:

  • 100th anniversary celebration of the League in Edmonton with Velma Harasen
  • Governance and Management: Two Distinct Yet Critical Jobs seminar sponsored by Canadian Society of Association Executives, with Kim Scammell
  • Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops plenary at Mont Gabriel, Quebec
  • National Council of Catholic Women convention in Myrtle Beach, Florida with Barbara Dowding

The president spends a good deal of time writing parish council mailings, reports to WUCWO, monthly Be League messages, messages for The Canadian League magazine three times per year, as well as talks and workshop presentations. I was delighted to be present at the 90th anniversary celebration at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Council, Hastings, Ontario and the 85th anniversary of my own parish council, St. Gregory the Great, Picton, Ontario.

History continues to prove that women have a special role in opening doors of faith in Christ; members truly are living signs in the world of the triumph of love, life and hope. V