2013 Annual Report – Community Life

National Chairperson of Christian Family Life Fran Lucas

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Subcommittee chairpersons:

  • CCODP: Life Member Diane Lemay
  • Human Trafficking: Life Member Nancy Simms

The community life role is to take an active part in opposing discrimination in all of its forms, to actively protect the most vulnerable in society, to welcome new citizens, to help families and therefore communities become economically independent and to support official Catholic overseas organizations launched by the CCCB. Members always looked for ways to help those in need at home and abroad, and to be a voice for those who were voiceless.

Dignity and rights of persons
Members dedicated many hours to the issue of human trafficking, from participating in prayer workshops on the trafficking of women and children, to advocating for the establishment of a national Human Trafficking Awareness Day on February 22, to working on active resolutions tied to this subject. Letters continued to be written to provincially and federally elected representatives regarding prostitution, human trafficking and bullying. The MP for Kildonan―St. Paul became a very familiar name as she continued her advocacy to change the Criminal Code to target the purchasers of sexual services. She spoke at numerous League meetings and conventions. Councils educated their members on human trafficking issues and kept them updated on the progress of the Bedford case, where the Supreme Court of Canada ruled current prostitution laws to be unconstitutional.

Councils donated to local shelters for abused women and children, and shelters for men. They coordinated anti-bullying programs for youth and delivered Meals on Wheels to seniors. Councils studied Resolution 2013.01 and, using that knowledge, participated in the Sisters in Spirit campaign, invited Aboriginal sisters to speak at meetings, offered masses for and wrote letters to government regarding missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls, and supported Aboriginal women’s shelters and a national day of prayer in solidarity with indigenous peoples. Members supported local Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada gatherings with various donations including prayer shawls, refreshments and cash, as well as attending and being active conference participants. Several councils visited those in prison and brought inmates treats at Easter and Christmas.

Groups and organizations supported in a variety of ways included domestic abuse services, Special Olympics, National Child Day, outreach programs for Aboriginal youth, restorative justice programs for young offenders and coalitions against human trafficking. One council participated in an annual walk against racism. Special services were held on December 6 to remember women subjected to violence.

Social and economic justice
To give hope and restore a feeling of self worth is what members did well through donations or personal time at food banks, milk and breakfast programs in schools, Habitat for Humanity, Covenant House for homeless youth, organizations for troubled youth, and by using and selling fair trade products at meetings and conventions. Councils donated to local shelters for unwed mothers and their babies such as Villa Rosa and Marillac Place. Members were asked to take into consideration when shopping for clothing where that clothing was made, mindful that some fashions are made in sweat shops. Parish councils were engaged in many projects which afforded the opportunity to donate food hampers and household items. One program supported is called “Sandwiches for the Soul.” A number of councils made financial contributions to a flood relief project in southern Alberta when sister members were forced from their damaged homes.

Refugees, immigration and citizenship
Many members sat on parish refugee committees and welcomed refugees from Iraq, Burma and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Councils were eager to be better informed on the needs of refugees and better prepared to assist them. They invited speakers from multicultural groups or local government offices. Migrant workers were given rides to mass and provided with regular meals. Through letter writing, governments were encouraged to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into Canada.

As part of a welcome to their new communities, immigrants were supported by providing financial assistance for food and rent. Members assisted immigrants with the adjustment to a new country and culture, and with renewing passports. Members invited immigrants to attend church activities and social gatherings, and taught English as an additional language. One council connected with its local “immigration welcome society,” while another aided its priest from Africa who required assistance for his family.

Members proudly served at citizenship ceremonies. Councils participated in Remembrance Day services and laid wreaths to remember those who gave their lives for freedom. Wearing red on Friday was one way members showed solidarity with the military. Supporting the Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign was mentioned several times.

Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP)
The most consistent method of supporting CCODP was through the 1% Program and the Share Lent campaign. With so many parishes serving a large Philippine community, much support was garnered from members after the devastating typhoon in the Philippines. The Syrian emergency campaign was also well supported through bake sales and special collections.

CCODP speakers were invited to parish council meetings, with several indicating the good fortune to have Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno (Huancayo, Peru) speak at their meeting. Councils viewed and made available the DVD documentary A New Leaf: Confronting a Food Crisis which speaks to the food crisis in the Sahel, West Africa and CCODP’s response.

During Lent, many councils held a “poor man’s supper” and Lenten lunches with the proceeds donated to CCODP. The collection of used stamps at monthly meetings was a great way for members to raise funds. In response to CCODP’s fall campaign, members discussed a request to have an ombudsman for responsible mining, and they signed cards in support of the campaign which were then sent to the federal government.

Developing countries
Two projects supported by the majority of councils were Velma’s Dream National Voluntary Fund and Marty’s Dream. Velma’s Dream supported two Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) projects―an Infant Welfare Center in Jerusalem and Shepherd’s Field Hospital in Beit Sahour. Marty’s Dream raised funds to build a residence for young girls in Kete Krachi, Ghana.

From fostering children in Zambia to supporting the International Committee of the Red Cross, members felt tremendous compassion for those they helped. Many individuals and families benefited from member support of World Vision, Holy Childhood Association, Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group, a leprosy bandage project, an “aquabox” project that supplies clean safe water to disaster areas, the Mother Teresa Foundation, Save a Family Plan, Chalice and Operation Christmas Child. Councils supported missions in Kenya, Nigeria, Vietnam, Nicaragua, India, and Peru, the Passionist Missions Canada, the Missionaries of Africa (also know as the White Fathers), Handmaids of the Lord and the Don Bosco Mission Office in Canada.

One council had a sister parish in Africa, one had a craft club that made dresses for girls in India, and one wrote to government regarding fair trade laws. One member founded a school for orphans in Kenya. Several councils financially assisted local youth with their house building missions in developing countries, and one council supported two students, a pharmacist and a translator, who volunteered in Honduras. The dignity and health of women and children held a special place in the hearts of members with some collecting change which was sent to Africa and others participating in a walk for the poor that funded the building of shelters and education of children. Members generously collected linens, blankets, towels, undergarments, toiletries, stuffed animals, school supplies and much more for developing countries. Some councils made milk bag mats for Haitians.

May the League continue to be blessed with a membership that accomplishes good works internationally and at home. Let members each recognize their responsibility to do their utmost for global development on the various platforms of community life.V