2014 Annual Report – B.C. & Yukon

Pat Deppiesse
B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council President
2014 Annual Report

Thanks in many ways to the Catch the Fire! initiative, the League was strong and vibrant in British Columbia and the Yukon with its 131 parish councils and 9,007 members. One parish council was reactivated, and every diocesan council reported new members. An aging membership with their various health issues presented a challenge, making difficult to get leaders to step forward. As a result, many councils combined standing committees.

As a way of increasing membership, members visited students at Simon Fraser University and aired the film Red Light Green Light about human trafficking. It was suggested that new members could be encouraged to become an active part of parish councils by socializing outside of meetings; they would get to know each other better and thus become more comfortable and more vocal at meetings. The importance of asking new members to take on small tasks or become part of a committee so they learn about the League was also noted. It was pleasing to see new members from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures.

Five of six diocesan councils shared a total of 38 life members whose help was frequently sought and willingly given. In addition, there was one provincial and five diocesan life member liaisons, some of whom worked as mentors and workshop presenters where their knowledge and enthusiasm were much admired. One life member was elected as national president, two were elected as national standing committee chairpersons, and three were serving on the provincial executive.

The provincial council initiated a leadership development fund to help with costs for leadership training workshops. Councils reported their members enjoyed the S’Mores workshops, and felt that Catch the Fire! had definitely lit the spark in the diocesan councils, so much so that they continued to give workshops. It was felt that getting members to run for office involved affirmation, encouragement and recognition.

Because attendance at conventions was considered a great way to learn, the provincial council held an incentive draw to help two members from each diocesan council attend the provincial convention. Plans were also struck to help fund five members from each of the six diocesan councils to attend the 2015 annual national convention.

The annual provincial convention was hosted in Kamloops, and the national president-elect spoke on what was to become the theme for her presidency, One Heart, One Voice, One Mission. The living rosary was recited with four spiritually enriching and emotional testimonials, one after each decade. Sr. Eva Solomon spoke on “Build Me a Church That Will Honour My Son” and First Nations people were welcomed as guests. Members were very interested in an anti-bullying workshop. Nearby Catholic school children in grades 5 to 7 were invited to hear the presentation of a mother and her 15 year old daughter who showed the students and adults about what bullying might look like.

Prayer shawls were knitted and presented to First Nations people at Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada events, and also to members who were ill. One diocesan president wrote a song for the League entitled “Carol’s Song.” Most councils participated in World Day of Prayer services. Members participated in bible study, delivered the Eucharist to sick and shut-ins, and coordinated masses at personal care homes.

Communications were much improved, due to most members using e-mail. The national and provincial websites appeared to be well used, and Be League and past issues of The Canadian League were put into new member welcome kits. The provincial newsletter Communicator proved most popular. In an attempt to be more visible in parishes, members performing ministry work wore CWL scarves and communicated their activities to their parish community through church bulletin boards and newsletters. Some members noted having excellent relationships with editors of diocesan and local newspapers which helped to promote the League, and media was invited to events. A briefing on the League was presented to priests at priest study days.

One parish council helped a family through the Right of Christian Initiation. Members looked for the longest married couple in Canada, and councils held workshops on marriage and the family. One member asked her city council to proclaim September 28-October 5 as Celebrate Life Week; the city agreed and displayed a huge sign.

Members participated in 40 Days for Life and the March for Life. They supported NET Ministries of Canada financially and were involved in Me to We, a program that provides people with socially conscious and environmentally friendly clothing, volunteer trips, leadership training programs, and materials and books that address issues of positive social change. Members started a “God Squad” group for teens. They encouraged seniors to share their faith stories, and to be prayer sponsors, providing them with rides to meetings, programs and socials. Councils sent gifts and cards to seminarians at Christmas, Easter, birthdays and ordinations.

First Nations people were invited to participate in events, and some members attended prayer sessions on a reserve. Councils offered a migrant workers ministry and sponsored and supported refugees until they became self-sufficient. Through mission outreach, members supported Chalice, Marty’s Dream, Don Bosco Mission, MaterCare International, all national voluntary funds and orphanages in developing nations.

Members were very involved in Catholic education through providing scholarships, bursaries, awards and gifts, and helping to teach the sacraments. Support was given by volunteering in palliative care units. Councils arranged for speakers on mental health topics, and arranged participation in national awareness days on issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Members provided research for many health resolutions and were involved in prison ministry. They supported Our Lady of Good Counsel Society – Domestic Abuse Services by volunteering, supplying household goods, providing response to telephone calls from battered women, and attending the fundraiser walkathon.

Members supported pregnancy care centres, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Meals on Wheels, elder care centres and hospice societies. They assisted people suffering with drug and alcohol addictions and volunteered for Coldest Night of the Year for the hungry and homeless, CIBC Run for the Cure for breast cancer research, Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life and the provincial organ donation program.

Members helped to save the environment by meeting with federally, provincially and municipally elected politicians regarding environmental issues. Councils arranged for guest speakers on the topics of clean water and fish safety, adopt a block programs and community clean-up days. They supported Earth Day and were conscious of the need to recycle and compost through the use of washable coffee mugs and plates rather than Styrofoam and paper products at meetings and events.

The provincial executive attended meetings with provincial government representatives, providing them with copies of the resolutions, and diocesan presidents and chairpersons of resolutions provided copies to all six bishops. Members attended a presentation by a member of parliament (MP) regarding human trafficking legislation and pornography, after which the MP was presented with an associate membership for 2015. Members attended workshops on housing, the standard of living and First Nations and immigrant needs. Councils reported prolific letter writing, many having received replies. Two resolutions originating from the provincial council, on the topics of criminalizing the purchase of sexual services and prohibiting the manipulation and use of human reproductive material, were adopted by the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations and subsequently sent to the United Nations. This was very rewarding to all who worked on these resolutions. Members contacted the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission and specific broadcasters regarding content that was deemed offensive, but also commended them for good content. Members distributed Pornography Hurts postcards and provided them to other church denominations to send.

One parish council commented, “It is good to fill out the annual reports as much as we complain about the onerous task. But by doing them, it reminds us of all we have accomplished and gives us inspiration to move forward and keep on track with our goals and planning for the New Year.” Well said!