National 1st Vice-President and Chairperson of Education and Health
2017 Annual Report
Catholic Education – Life Member Gabriele Kalincak
Wellness and Sickness/Disease – Life Member Becky Kallal
Environment – Rita Janes
The national standing committee worked diligently to offer members a wealth of information that was shared directly through e-mails, articles and every other mode of communication available. Committee members attended conferences and participated in webinars, always focused on sharing information that was current and relevant. Because mental health was identified as a national focus for all standing committees, resources were offered resources on the topic of mental health for all age groups. “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” was revamped and once again was embraced by parish councils.
All provincial executives, whether their province/territory offered Catholic education or not, were aware of the manner through which religious education was delivered at the parish level. This was also the case for military chapels and base schools. A few members served on local school boards, while others helped at schools with breakfast or lunch programs, school supervision, clothing drives, extracurricular activities and tutoring. They assisted by reading to students and providing supplies. Closure of schools in smaller communities made it impossible to support some of the foregoing. One diocesan council continued a long history of essay writing or poster drawing for all grade levels based on the national theme.
Rites of Christian Initiation programs were offered and in many instances were facilitated by members. Hosting retreats for those receiving first communion and receptions for baptism and confirmation events was one way members were able to assist with spiritual growth.
Literacy and Continuing Education
Members encouraged and supported literacy and continuing education. With increased immigrant and refugee populations, parish councils stepped up to assist with literacy skill teaching. Some members were full-time educators in English and/or French languages. A CWL education day and workshop by one diocesan council was well received by its northern parish councils.
Scholarships and Bursaries
Numerous councils at parish, diocesan and provincial levels offered scholarships ranging from $100.00 to $1,000 for members, as well as for high school students and those attending post-secondary institutes. One provincial council provided a bursary to 12 individuals. Supporting those attending Coady International Institute continued to be a favourite.
The national bursary fund received increased support, as it was added to the national voluntary fund form. The League gratefully acknowledges the following council donations designated to enhance the national bursary fund.
• Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Nipigon 100.00
• Christ the King, Courtenay 500.00
• Good Shepherd, Thornhill 100.00
• Holy Family, St. Jerome 50.00
• Immaculate Conception, Surrey 40.00
• Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Labrador City 50.00
• St. Aidan, Scarborough 75.00
• St. Anthony, Drumheller 100.00
• St. Columba, Souris 25.00
• St. Francis of Assisi, Cornwall 65.00
• St. Joseph Basilica, Edmonton 100.00
• St. Leo the Great, Brooklin 50.00
• St. Margaret Mary, Hamilton 50.00
• St. Mary, Chilliwack 30.00
• St. Paul, Summerside 200.00
• St. Peter, Port Hood 50.00
• Swift Current, Swift Current 25.00
Wellness and Sickness/Disease
Particular attention was given to current and past resolutions in the way of research, speakers and writing letters to influential people, including the prime minister. National organizations such as the Heart & Stroke Foundation, MaterCare International, Canadian Cancer Society, Diabetes Canada, CNIB and The Arthritis Society were supported. Some parish councils urged the federal government to revise Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide while others studied marketing by the food and beverage industry to the detriment of children. The Heart & Stroke Foundation’s The kids are not alright. How the food and beverage industry is marketing our children and youth to death. 2017 Report on the Health of Canadians was an eye-opener for many.
Mental health conversations with youth were found to be fruitful, while concern for timely access to mental health professionals and follow-up programs was expressed. Right By You campaign resources were used by members to provide parents with tools and guidance to have more impactful conversations with their teen and support their teen’s mental well-being.
As “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” was offered for a second year, it grew in form and participation. Visiting palliative care units was a common act of mercy. Making and presenting lap quilts or prayer shawls continued with some including a pocket with a League crest on the front and a rosary or prayer card inside. Most parish councils participated in the national lap quilt challenge, which culminated with quilts being taken to the annual national convention.
Members benefited from discussions on palliative care, chemical and environmental sensitivities, labeling on food and drug products, and blood donations. Meetings with ministers of health appear to have increased. Meetings with chief executive officers or directors of local health organizations enabled members to convey concerns on availability of patient care, caregivers and facilities. Members wrote letters of support to the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada for its promotion of services that respect the dignity of the patient and rights of healthcare professionals. A few parish councils reported providing healthy food choices at meetings.
Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ was a popular resource for the protection of the environment. Parish councils strove to reduce paper use at meetings. Elimination of the use of Styrofoam, plastic water bottles and bags continued, while carpooling was a new initiative and participation in recycling was a focus. Shopping at and donating to thrift stores and flea markets was noted. Climate change and water resources were discussed across all provinces. Some parish councils also studied renewable energy and wind turbine technology. Recent environmental resolutions were acted upon.
Reports indicated a need to become more knowledgeable regarding advantages and disadvantages of technological development in light of the teachings of the Catholic church. Only one parish council reported having subscribed to the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute newsletter.
Writing letters to members of provincial/territorial governments and members of parliament, visiting them in person or phoning continued to be actions required to address numerous concerns voiced through resolutions. Uniting in one voice was a powerful tool to help enact change.