2014 Annual Report – Laws

Betty Anne Brown Davidson
National Past President and Chairperson of Laws
2014 Annual Report

Past presidents and historians of councils act very much like shepherds. In the days preceding this role, they journeyed the road ahead, they experienced the hazards and the triumphs of League leadership. Now they gently guide their members so they can experience the exhilaration and adventure of having been called to walk in the footsteps of Mary and the disciples of Jesus.

Consultative capacity
Many provincial councils reported a “wonderful … relationship” of the president, past president and president-elect working together for the good of the council. Encouragement and mentoring was “exceedingly helpful” (Alberta Mackenzie) and the past president played “an integral role” in the working of the council (Saint John). This vital role of hands-on support and enthusiasm made all the difference in attitude and the embracing of projects and ideas in councils. Example was a great teacher; most past presidents did their best to attend executive and regular meetings as well as diocesan, provincial and national conventions. Manitoba noted that e-mail and texting allow even easier contact with past presidents for their immediate advice.

Archives and history
“Archives are important historical material from which information, inspiration and enthusiasm for the League are derived” (Newfoundland and Labrador). Provincial safekeeping was provided in some provinces, but as photo albums take a lot of space, some archival facilities did not want to store them. Well-labeled photo albums and memorabilia added to the displays at special events and anniversaries. “All councils would be wise to become better informed regarding digital storage of archival materials” (Ontario) as they study the possibilities of archival storage on DVDs, CDs and memory sticks.

As a way to value the history of many parish councils, the past president looked after and maintained the Book of Life along with photo albums and histories of deceased members. Every name had its story. Some councils liked to hang photos of their past presidents in their council meeting room as a reminder of those who carried the leadership torch in the past.

Some councils maintained their history on a monthly basis rather than at the end of their year or term. Conscientiously, past presidents reviewed, stored and updated photo and scrapbooks for posterity.

Study and implementation of the Constitution & Bylaws
Study of the Constitution & Bylaws (C&B) and the manuals of policy and procedures of various levels took place, especially “considering the massive changes that have taken place in recent years” (Nova Scotia). A couple of councils highlighted one paragraph monthly from the C&B, called “Food for Thought”.

Newfoundland and Labrador councils believed that “a parish policy is a valuable document to have in a council. It cuts down on having to make the same motion year after year to approve the same projects.” Past presidents in other provinces sent out guidelines for drafting policies and procedures. Eight councils in Nova Scotia found it helpful.

Other duties as assigned
A memorial lecture series to honour a former diocesan president was instituted in Toronto. Euthanasia was the topic by the first guest speaker, Dr. Margaret Somerville.

A few diocesan executives hosted an appreciation tea for their presidents and past presidents. Very often these women were asked to speak about the League in parishes and communities. This was done with great success in Manitoba as the information given prompted a new council to be formed.

Executives in B.C. & Yukon and Quebec developed helpful annual report forms for their members, seeking to hear especially about their successes and joys.

Past presidents were willing to serve where needed―giving agenda advice, planning special events, chairing committee and council meetings in the absence of the president, checking the national and provincial websites for information of value, and drawing up lists of council donations and service awards for members. They encouraged submissions of material to Be League and to provincial newsletters. In many diocesan councils, past presidents served on Catch the Fire! and S’mores teams.

Chairperson of laws (at national level)
Members freely brought their quandaries and questions forward over the year. Luckily in the League, I know whom to call to assist me in my advice to councils. There is a rich inventory of capable, generous and enthusiastic experts within the membership ranks. I thank God for them!

On the national level, the Guide to Hosting the Annual National Convention was revised to include the practical advice of past convention chairpersons.

A leader…is like a shepherd. [S]he stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”  – Nelson Mandela