2013 Annual Report – Organization

National Chairperson of Organization and National President-Elect Barbara Dowding

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Sub-Committee Chairperson: Life Member Liaison Glenda Klein

All provincial chairpersons of organization submitted comprehensive reports outlining how members were nurtured, educated, affirmed and cherished. They were clear in their enthusiasm for the successes and fair in reporting certain challenges. All were hopeful and positive, a good sign of things to come. Membership as at December 31, 2013 stood at 88,610.

Recruit members and maintain membership
“The strength of the League is in its membership.” Personal invitation was reported as the single most successful method of inviting and attracting new members. The second key element for success was having a parish priest who encourages membership, both from the pulpit and personally. One council had a very successful early-bird draw for a chance to have its members’ fees paid. Where “Sign-up Sunday” was coupled with an intentional and well planned membership drive, the results were excellent. Many chairpersons reported on the success of having the League envelope in the Sunday offering box, noting it had a two fold benefit—it raised awareness of the League and eased the collection of membership fees.

Looking after current members was reported as being very important to the health and well-being of the League as a whole. One chairperson listed all the years of service pins from 60-years down to 10-years, as well as certificates of merit and special honours, with great pride in how that council cared. Others shared how members were affirmed by the acknowledgment of long serving members through dedicated services, special ceremonies or events, the presentation of the Bellelle Guerin award, service pins and certificates of merit.

In some councils, the installation and reaffirmation ceremonies took place during a community mass. Members wore their pins and scarves, processed in and sat together. Sometimes, insignia pins to new members or years of service pins were also presented at the installation mass. Some held a social after the mass, and invited a guest speaker or the president to speak about the League. Birthday and other occasion cards were sent to members.

Making an effort to be a visible presence in the parish, particularly at social events, provided many opportunities to talk about the League. One chairperson wrote articles on reasons to become a member while a “Years of Service” booklet was developed by one council to establish a permanent record of awards. One council participated in its parish’s first ministry fair. A CWL place mat was developed. One council linked its membership drive with a Christmas craft and bake sale. A display kiosk was used in the entrance of one church, while in another church the League photo book was left out.

High on the list for successful recruitment was the use of social media, websites and e-mail, and it was noted many women were very comfortable with this method. Speaking at masses and hosting food-related gatherings were reported often as good ways to promote the League. To try something different, one council held meetings at a nursing home on a Sunday after mass. Gift memberships, welcome gifts for new mothers and open invitations to all women of the parish were successful in raising awareness about the League and gaining new members. One council instituted an award for the council with the greatest increase in membership, an award presented annually at the annual provincial convention. In some areas, members were challenged to bring one new person to a meeting, and reminders to be League ambassadors helped engage new interest. Reminding members why they joined and encouraging others to “come and see” were common responses.

Providing and fostering a welcoming atmosphere for meetings, offering thoughtful spiritual presentations including occasions for prayer, bringing in quality guest speakers, having time for discussion and sharing food were listed as good ways to keep members happy. Inviting neighbouring councils and women from parishes without a council to events was a chance to meet new people and to advance the good news of the League.

Leadership development
“Great League members do not just happen; they must be encouraged, trained and supported.” Catch the Fire! sessions (CTF) were the most reported activity for enhancing leadership development. Councils supplemented money from the National Development Fund to ensure every region that wanted a workshop was able to have one, and most reported ongoing plans for more. Members and life members presented and supported this invaluable initiative. All chairpersons remarked on the success of the program. One provincial council reported over 500 women having been in attendance at over 15 workshops and, while the council was happy about the participation rate, it realized this was only a fraction of the whole membership. Another provincial council reported holding six workshops, with more to come; neighbouring councils, parishioners and community members were invited to maximize participation and ensure the best use of funds. Poor weather was cited as the biggest stumbling block! The most often reported comment was how CTF helped renew enthusiasm and energy.

Some councils reported concern that while CTF sessions were successful they only reached a small percentage of the overall membership. However, creative solutions were noted including the adaptation of CTF sessions for parish councils. Breaking the components into smaller segments to suit the audience worked well. Finding alternate sources of funding and keeping the publicity fresh and enticing helped keep the fire going! One council reported using certain components of CTF for non-Catholic women as a place to start.

The importance of getting members to conventions was seen as key in developing leadership and engagement. Councils reported that attendance at annual diocesan, provincial and national conventions provided members with exposure to the League, guiding and motivating many.  Some councils offered orientation sessions for new executive members and discussed the focus or plans for the year ahead. Outgoing and incoming executive members met to pass on information soon after elections.

League resource material
“To ensure the council operates efficiently and effectively, it is essential to have a good working knowledge of the League.” Communications standing committee tools, The Canadian League and Be League, were cited as the most often used resources. Members shared information found there and were happy with both. CTF raised awareness of the good number of materials readily available in hard copy or downloadable from the national website. Two-thirds of councils purchased a copy of the amended C&B While the Executive Handbook was the resource most purchased by councils, Leading the League was still highly regarded as a good tool.

Annual reports
“Reports are an important means of communicating with others in the parish, the community and the country at large.” Reports were submitted at all levels with most parish councils reporting they had a special meeting for this purpose, using their minutes to make sure nothing was missed. Many councils made use of technology for completing and filing annual reports. Although chairpersons found it challenging to achieve 100% success, they persevered in a variety of ways. Some gave workshops, prepared templates and developed guidelines to make the process easier. Distributing past annual reports was also helpful. An exciting possibility was reported to test the notion of filling out annual reports online! As most annual reports are now received by e-mail, this possibility bodes well for a new way to report. All chairpersons commented the information received was valuable and useful.

Life membership
“Councils benefit greatly from the experience and expertise of life members.” There were 368 life members as at December 31. Many diocesan and provincial councils had a life member liaison who kept in touch with life members, reported on news and sent cards of congratulation, condolence or concern.

National Life Member Liaison Glenda Klein has seen to this role in an exceptional manner with over 50 communiques, almost weekly, to ensure life members across the country were informed and connected. She developed a comprehensive job description and good guidelines to assist others in this role which has evolved over the years and is a tremendous service.

Membership administrators/chairpersons of organization
All levels worked hard to grow membership and give existing members good value. Administrators reported taking great care with membership lists, information, and assisting and promoting the online membership system. They prepared and distributed new member kits, gave workshops and wrote annual reports.

Many chairpersons reported they were instrumental in the facilitation of CTF, keeping participants interested and developing new facilitators. One chairperson finalized her provincial council’s guide to hosting a provincial convention, provided files, manuals and guidelines on the website and prepared a monthly newsletter. Another organized an informal gathering of diocesan organization chairpersons, diocesan presidents and sub-committee members to discuss membership strategies and ideas.

Chairpersons noted challenges around recruiting younger members and being open to their needs, as well as getting non-active members to take executive positions. One chairperson found CTF challenging in regards to organizing and travel, and dealing with a large immigrant population and language barriers. Outreach to First Nations women was listed as a good first step in getting to know Aboriginal sisters better.

To quote one chairperson, “League members are never idle. They band together as community in good and hard times, living as true sisters sharing their lives.” Members have seen the Lord in so many ways, shared their encounters and served so well. Most chairpersons reported a variety of activities that were over and above the role of this standing committee, proving once again how dedicated they are to the League and to the church.

Membership statistics for year ended December 31, 2013

Provincial Council

Jan 1, 2013

New

Reinstated

Didn't Renew

Paid Members

Deceased

Dec 31, 2013

Alberta Mackenzie

9,794

542

210

878

9,668

101

9,567

B.C. & Yukon

9,252

630

271

893

9,260

116

9,144

Manitoba

2,743

135

56

194

2,740

39

2,701

Military Ordinariate

313

26

3

40

302

-

302

New Brunswick

2,501

65

27

194

2,399

38

2,361

Newfoundland and Labrador

773

32

3

86

722

9

713

Nova Scotia

4,647

117

74

269

4,569

58

4,511

Ontario

50,487

2,250

1,267

4,478

49,526

545

48,981

Prince Edward Island

2,274

60

42

160

2,216

30

2,186

Quebec

1,030

33

13

72

1,004

17

987

Saskatchewan

7,337

275

73

434

7,251

94

7,157

TOTAL

91,151

4,165

2,039

7,698

89,657

1,047

88,610

 
Council statistics for the year ended December 31

Provincial Council

Jan. 1, 2013

New

Reactivated

Inactive

Amalgamated

Disbanded

Dec. 31, 2013

Alberta Mackenzie

162

2

1

159

B.C.& Yukon

133

1

1

1

2

130

Manitoba

49

49

Military Ordinariate

14

14

New Brunswick

52

3

1

48

Newfoundland and Labrador

25

1

24

Nova Scotia

83

2

2

79

Ontario

542

3

2

1

542

Prince Edward Island

39

1

38

Quebec

22

22

Saskatchewan

149

2

147

TOTAL

1,270

0

4

12

2

8

1,252