2014 Annual Report – Manitoba

Monica Brechka
Manitoba Provincial Council President
2014 Annual Report

The Keewatin-The Pas, St. Boniface and Winnipeg diocesan councils celebrated membership by hosting Catch the Fire! sessions. With this program, pride continued to be nurtured in the League. Appreciation of one another was shown through the presentation of certificates of merit, years of service pins, new member pins, 11 maple leaf service pins, three Bellelle Guerin awards and two life memberships. Members supported each other and the League by attending diocesan, provincial and national conventions, days of reflection, days of celebration and a resolutions workshop. Flowers and cards were sent to those who were ill in hospitals, personal care homes or shut-in. As a final tribute to deceased members, many councils provided honour guards at funeral masses and a brief CWL eulogy, and helped to prepare and serve the luncheons.

All councils did some fundraising through bake sales, teas, raffles, fall suppers, bazaars, whist drives, bingo canteens, children’s carnivals, and the sale of religious Christmas cards, angels or raffle tickets. Funds raised were given to Coady International Institute, Velma’s Dream, Marty’s Dream, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Life’s Vision, Hike for Life, Fellowship of the Least Coin, Alpha House, Marie Rose Place, Kee-Pas missions, Esk-OMI Missions, friendship centres, Save a Family Plan, Villa Rosa, women’s resource centres, the bishop’s appeal for seminarians, scholarships for youth in parish or diocese, Marian Hour of Prayer, Rossbrook House, soup kitchens, Kids First North, an orphanage in Haiti, Sierra Leone Action Mission, Christmas Cheer Board, Operation Christmas Child, drop-in centres, food cupboards, immigrant families, Meals on Wheels, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes Association, Canadian Blood Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Projects promoted community and solidarity as members used their talents together to praise and glorify God. Some councils continue to collect tabs from drink cans to purchase wheelchairs.

Members were active in their churches. They served as lectors, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, leaders of song, musicians, catechists and sacristans. They engaged as leaders of the Rite of Christian Initiation, sacramental preparation programs and marriage preparation programs. They led the rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, stations of the cross, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Morning Prayer. They participated in bible study, ARISE Together in Christ, lectio divina, Neocatechumenal Way, living rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and prison ministry. In parishes with limited access to priests, members presided at the Celebration of the Word.

The lobby against pornography continued. Pornography Hurts postcards were sent. Numerous letters regarding prostitution laws were sent to 11 government officials. An initiative to oppose human trafficking resulted in a mail out of over 4,381 letters. One parish council charted all of its members’ letters sent and the responses received. One council member developed an age appropriate PowerPoint presentation to educate youth on how to protect themselves from being lured by human traffickers. The chairperson of community life attended a Beyond Borders symposium. Beyond Borders is the Canadian representative of ECPAT International, with a global network of more than 82 groups in 75 countries.

Members participated in ecumenical events such as World Day of Prayer, Church Unity Octave, a special bible study and Advent services. They served as board members of pastoral councils, town libraries, health auxiliaries, museums, friendship centres, chambers of commerce, First Nations band councils and the nurses’ union.

Members were very generous in the support they gave to their parishes. Gifts were presented to children and adults being baptized, receiving first communion, experiencing their first reconciliation and receiving confirmation. Money was donated towards cost of an altar, lectern, baptismal font and for general upkeep. Members made banners, helped to decorate the church for special events, prepared palms for distribution on Palm Sunday, refilled holy water fonts at the doors of the churches, and planted flowers around the churches and rectories. In these and other activities they worked with other women of the parish and the Knights of Columbus. Many quilts were made for hospital patients and residents of the House of Hesed, HIV & AIDS transitional housing. Prayer shawls were donated and, as a recipient, I can attest to how much these are appreciated.

Communication between members was encouraged through the distribution of a member registry for council elections every two years. Members were kept informed through council, parish and diocesan newsletters, bulletin boards, church bulletins, e-mails, Facebook, Be League, The Canadian League and by word of mouth.

Diocesan presidents met with their archbishops regularly. They organized assistance at special services such as New Year’s receptions and diocesan wedding anniversary celebrations. With the Knights of Columbus, they provided an honour guard for the Chrism Mass and Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Spiritual advisors were truly appreciated and invited to events. Seminarians and deacons also received invitations to communion luncheons. On the coldest night of the year, members welcomed Archbishop Richard Gagnon (Winnipeg). Many members were in attendance at St. Mary’s Cathedral for his installation. Sr. Eva Solomon performed a smudging ceremony of purification and welcome to Treaty One Land for His Grace as he entered the cathedral.

Resolutions, gifts from the membership, were brought to the annual provincial convention in Flin Flon. Seven resolutions from St. Boniface Diocesan Council were presented on the topics of pharmacy dispensing fees, herpes zoster vaccine coverage under Manitoba Health for persons 60 years and older, expiry dates on prescription labels, national standard for newborn screening including screening for severe combined immunodeficiency, electronic cigarettes, digital direct radiographic mammography, and old age security allowance for individuals 60-64 years of age regardless of marital status. One resolution from Winnipeg Diocesan Council was presented on the topic of growth hormones and growth-enhancing antibiotics in the meat supply. Two of the resolutions were accepted as information at the national level, while five were brought to the floor of the annual national convention, and three were adopted, setting a record for Manitoba.

Council members continued to live Resolution 2013.01 Building Relationships and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. One parish council invited an aboriginal elder to speak on his experience at a residential school. Members learned that much healing is needed on the path to reconciliation.

As provincial president, I attended the Keewatin-The Pas diocesan, provincial and national conventions, one national executive meeting and two tri-diocesan committee meetings (prison ministry and social justice). I chaired four meetings of the provincial executive and one provincial presidents’ meeting. I also appointed Susan Bernier as national convention chairperson for 2018.

When all is said and done, all executive officers are members of local councils. Without that membership, officers could not serve on diocesan, provincial or national councils. There is no such thing as “Oh no, I’m just a member”. I am so proud to be a member of St. Alphonsus Parish Council in the Diocese of St. Boniface in this great Province of Manitoba!