2014 Annual Report – Nova Scotia

Joan Bona
Nova Scotia Provincial Council President
2014 Annual Report

Throughout Nova Scotia, members were an active presence giving love to their parish, diocese, province and beyond. Members continued to serve under the theme We Have Seen the Lord!

With provincial elections held in June, it was a time for education, communication and great expectations. Following the annual provincial convention, standing committee chairpersons began the process of becoming familiar with their new responsibilities. Life Member Therese Pottie was appointed to serve as provincial life member liaison. At Christmas, Nova Scotia Spiritual Advisor Fr. Larry Pitcher took administrative leave and was replaced by Fr. Jim Richards.

Over 30 members attended the annual national convention in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in August where one resolution submitted by the provincial council was adopted nationally―Resolution 2014.01 Restoration of Health Care for Refugee Claimants.

In September, provincial and diocesan counterparts met to set a vision document for the provincial council. Funding was provided through the National Development Fund. Officers at both levels worked extremely hard to share common concerns and issues. One session proved to be particularly beneficial when participants delved into their personality types and giftedness. The need to revamp annual reports was identified and a focus group was struck to work on this task, with the view to developing a template for future years. Standing committee chairpersons continued to work through the suggested action plans.

The website became the catalyst of many newsworthy items. From June to December, it featured a president’s report that was filled with current provincial council news and other noteworthy items from standing committee chairpersons. Statistics on usage have demonstrated a slight increase in Internet activity. While the website would continue to be used as an easy, user-friendly, accessible resource tool, the council remained attentive to the needs of those members who were unable to access the Internet.

The annual $200.00 bursary in memory of Marian Hepditch-Littlepage was presented to a student of the Atlantic School of Theology. At the time of her death, Marian was the Nova Scotia Provincial President.

Spirituality and hospitality remained at the forefront of members’ commitment to serve all of God’s people and was a topic of discussion at the provincial level. It was hoped to include an element of spirituality on the website through a Prayer Room block where each month suggested workshops or prayers would be added. Book studies were also encouraged for parish council members to become engaged in good content. Many councils participated in World Day of Prayer.

In September, League representatives met with the provincial minister of health and wellness and several of his senior staff. The discussions focussed on a number of health related issues including two resolutions, one on drug recycling and the other on nursing home placement by crisis priority. Also discussed were Resolution 2014.02 Electronic Cigarettes and Resolution 2014.03 Flavoured Tobacco Products Ban. Since the government’s announcement on new legislation regarding flavoured tobacco products and e-cigarettes, members have provided input to ban or regulate these emerging tobacco technologies. Additionally, the minister suggested that the council monitor the government’s response to mental health and long-term care. Members have responded through letter writing and providing input in this realm.

Planning was underway to host the annual national convention in Halifax in 2016. Under the capable leadership of Honorary Life Member Danielle McNeil Hessian, another successful event is anticipated. A meeting was held to plan for the 67th annual provincial convention with members of St. Joseph Parish Council (Kentville), when the parish council will also be celebrating 90 years of service.

Three parish councils within the Diocese of Halifax-Yarmouth experienced a significant increase in membership, an increase that included young women and mothers. Ongoing promotion and effective membership drives were cited as successful recruitment mechanisms. Members were steadfast in their resolve to work beyond declining numbers and the lack of members who take leadership positions.

The Antigonish Diocesan Council fall conference was hosted by St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish Council (Sydney). This council was formed by a recent amalgamation of several parishes in the area and is a success story of teamwork. St. John the Baptist Parish Council (New Glasgow) hosted a retreat day, an annual event where spirituality is highlighted in a location of tranquility and peace.

In an attempt to rationalize a partnership with St. Francis Xavier University (St. FX) in support of aboriginal women, a meeting was held in November between the St. FX Extension Department and members of the provincial committee for women against poverty. Over $8,000 was raised to support a project(s) to assist aboriginal women in their quest to provide leadership in their own communities through economic development. It was hoped the project would be completed, however, St. FX had no graduates during the 2013-2014 term and have offered a revamped project for consideration.

It was evident in the fall that the Dying with Dignity campaign was beginning to gain momentum in its attempt to legalize physician-assisted suicide across Canada. Amid this campaign, members were encouraged to write letters, provide prayerful support and become educated on this issue. Several provincial executive members attended a session on euthanasia which was facilitated by Sr. Nuala Kenney. Additionally, a number of members prayed simultaneously while court proceedings were taking place. This served as a true example of dedication to protect and uphold the sacredness of all life.

Upon reflection, I am reminded of why I joined the League―spiritual fulfillment. I have received so much more. I have received the giftedness of the collective wisdom of over 4,000 members province-wide and many others at the national level. Within the framework of every report, is a labour of love to serve, to encourage, to offer compassion, to seek justice through advocacy, to grow spiritually in the Catholic faith, to promote and protect a culture and dignity of life, to communicate the good news, to witness, to be a presence to the elderly, vulnerable and sick, to develop leaders for the future, to sustain health and the environment and support many charitable causes. So much work accomplished and there is still work to do, but each member has embraced the task with courage and zeal.