2013 Annual Report – B.C. & Yukon

B.C. & Yukon Provincial President Doreen Gowans

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B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council is comprised of six diocesan councils, with 130 parish councils consisting of 9,144 members. I am truly amazed at the accomplishments and work that has taken place by so few members in the vast area covered by the council. At the provincial convention held in Victoria, newly appointed provincial spiritual advisor, Fr. Edwin Kulling (St. Paul, Richmond), was installed. Fr. Kulling is a late convert to Catholicism and to the priesthood, and a joy to have. The motion to increase the provincial per capita fee was unanimously passed at this convention.

The national theme, We Have Seen the Lord!, and the provincial theme, Let Our Faith Shine, have given members the opportunity to accomplish great things. We Have Seen the Lord! has provided an opportunity for members to share their faith stories, and one president was inspired to share with her members how she has been guided by the Holy Spirit. Members have been enriched by attending courses such as the Rediscovering Catholicism series by Matthew Kelly, hosting World Day of Prayer services and participating in parish prayer shawl ministries. The provincial secretary was presented with a prayer shawl, made by another executive member, at a very spiritual and emotional mass.

Catch the Fire! sessions have set on fire facilitators and members alike. Each of the diocesan councils experienced “sparks” travelling throughout their dioceses presenting workshops, as small and large councils joined forces to welcome everyone. Some members took great pride in watching for their flame to be posted on the national website map. Members stated they had fun and went home with their faith challenged and fulfilled. Diocesan councils reported the presentations were worthwhile, rekindled a few flames and inspired some new members to join.

Two bursaries were presented. A $500.00 bursary in memory of Honorary Life Member Molly Boucher was presented to a young lady to assist her in her education toward a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in political science and a minor in psychology. Life members presented a $500.00 Art & Culture Award to a student interested in pursuing the arts. The recipient plans to attend the McGill University Faculty of Arts, plays flute, guitar and piano, and donated many volunteer hours to his school, church and community.

The provincial treasury provided a subsidy of $250.00 to two members from each of the six diocesan councils to help defray costs in attending the provincial convention. The recipients included one member of the diocesan executive and one general member, neither of whom had previously attended a provincial convention.

The provincial level continued to present the “affirmation angel” to a member who was inspirational in some way. The accompanying book recognizing members who have received the award was an excellent piece of history. Councils used different ways to inform and invite members to attend meetings, such as posting their meeting invitation and agenda on a sandwich board outside the doors of their church prior to masses, e-mailing minutes, using telephone trees and distributing monthly newsletters. Councils made use of provincial and national websites to keep members informed on current issues. Three councils started monthly lunch meetings, while another council started with mass, followed by social time and then business. On the diocesan level, luncheons became business lunches. One diocesan spiritual advisor asked for 30 pamphlets on the Role of the Spiritual Advisor which he handed out to all the priests in the diocese. One diocesan president tried to simplify her executive’s workload by drawing up a job description for each position. It appeared to help, especially the new members on the executive. A resolutions workshop was held.

Presidents found creative ways of involving members in activities by assigning members a task to make the work lighter and more manageable. Others held planning meetings in January with other parish groups to plan for guest speakers, socials, mini retreats, etc. This elevated the League in the parish as more parish groups saw the work that was being done by the League. One council was able to work through conflict resolution and managed to keep a spirit of love and forgiveness through listening to and being sensitive to members who had concerns. Another council set up an online newsletter that included their council minutes, which was greatly appreciated by the younger members who could not always attend meetings. Some councils experienced a surge in the number of younger and newer members attending their meetings, a cause for celebration. The secret to keeping members coming out to meetings was to keep the business portion short and interesting, and to have fun.

Leadership was developed by setting aside time at each meeting to focus on a few aspects of one standing committee, to educate members and to solicit members’ help with various activities. One council assigned one month to each standing committee to organize a guest speaker, workshop or letter writing campaign supporting resolutions. Other councils believed in affirming members at every opportunity, which helped increase self esteem in members thereby rewarding their council with an increase in volunteer hours. Prayers, mentoring and small nudges were still needed in many areas to encourage members to use their gifts and talents for the glory of God. “Members Choice” was added to one council’s agenda, providing an opportunity for members to bring forth ideas or concerns. One council took part in its parish information booth after masses; this service provided an opportunity for non-members and members to speak to officers and become more informed on the work of the League. Public speaking presentations and the PowerPoint presentation “There is a Place for you” was held in some councils.

The use of League resource material was considered valuable. Leading the League was helpful when doing a day of reflection and a membership drive, while the Executive Handbook helped to explain the duties of standing committee chairpersons. It was very valuable for detailing the responsibilities and expectations of each of the executive positions for reporting purposes, and it gave new executive members an insight into what was expected of them. Kits from COLF were presented to each provincial executive member. One diocesan council was very involved with the Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life program.

Members were letting their faith shine as they continued to be actively involved in social justice issues by reaching out and helping the poor and marginalized through making donations to The Salvation Army, forming a clothesline of love with donated socks, mitts and scarves for the poor. Another council donated knitted and clothing items from its annual parish bazaar to a First Nations band located in the far northern part of the diocese. Many councils reported sending out the Pornography Hurts postcards. One council mailed 500 postcards to various members in government, raised $1,600 for a wheelchair for a student so she could go to school during the winter months and participated in Meals on Wheels. Members regularly took food to a “Sunday dinner in the park” for the needy, collected food for the food bank, visited the elderly and took communion to shut-ins. One diocesan council provided 1,300 cupcakes for a local Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada gathering, as well as made and presented prayer shawls to First Nations people to coincide with the healing services. The provincial council had a member on the board of March for Life. One council raised funds to have a stained glass window of Our Lady holding her son installed in the church of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Other councils supported their youth movement by supporting World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero. One council supported a single mother through prayer and communication, sponsoring a shower for her and her baby.

One council supported migrants in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. On learning that a Mexican farm worker was diagnosed with stage four cancer, the council took immediate action along with its local hospital, and raised $11,000 to enable the migrant worker’s wife to travel to Canada to be with him as he went through treatment and to financially support him to return to Mexico. The council has kept in touch with the family.

One council received a $5,000 grant from WICC to help fund necessary dental work at New Life Mission, an organization that helps the marginalized, especially women suffering from homelessness or addictions.  Another was made aware that its local hospital was going to lose its spiritual care representative. Members mobilized the council and parish to take action; they wrote 497 letters to the provincially-elected representative (MLA) in their riding, resulting in the spiritual care representative position being retained. To quote the MLA, “You Catholics are committed!” An Aboriginal learning centre was established.

Some councils raised funds for Velma’s Dream National Voluntary Fund to support Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land who serve the poor and marginalized. Councils also supported Marty’s Dream to help build a hostel for girls and guardians at St. Michael’s Parish in the Diocese of Jasikan in Ghana. V