Marie C. Rackley
New Brunswick Provincial Council President
2017 Annual Report
Inspired by the Spirit, Women Respond to God’s Call was a true statement in the Province of New Brunswick as members continued to serve church and community.
Members chose a provincial theme, Embrace the Grace of Belonging to—an organization rooted in gospel values, sharing of talents with one another, finding friendships that would last a lifetime and serving God and Canada.
Membership continued to be a concern for most parish councils as it declined from 2,061 to 1,991. Councils were able to secure 49 new members. Despite older members not renewing and grieving 36 deceased members, the spirit of service continued.
In December, St. Ann Parish Council (Kingsclear) and Holy Family Parish Council (Moncton) decided to close. Members were encouraged to join councils close to them, and special letters of invitation were sent out.
Members were active in the parish serving as lay providers, Eucharist ministers, lectors, altar servers, religious education teachers and pastoral council members. Members fundraised for church activities and supported charities such as New Brunswick Right to Life, Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life, Development and Peace, Catholic Missions In Canada and Mass for Shut-ins. Many parish councils provided bursaries to local graduating students from the community. Members visited those in nursing homes, the sick and shut-ins and volunteered at local food banks, Meals on Wheels, and breakfast and school lunch programs.
Parish councils continued to write letters to members of the legislative assembly and members of parliament to express concern about abortion, limiting access to pornography, palliative care, physician assisted dying, the conscience rights of healthcare providers and home care.
The provincial executive divided “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” among its four diocesan councils. For 12 consecutive hours, masses, rosaries, prayer meetings and personal prayers were offered. Members met with other faith communities to attend World Day of Prayer and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services.
All four diocesan councils voted to disband effective December 31, 2017. A new era would begin for the provincial council as 46 parish council presidents would become members of the provincial executive on January 1, 2018. The diocesan executives planned to conclude all procedures and complete their 2017 year, filing final annual report booklets for their archives.
In the fall, the provincial executive met for a two day workshop to develop the structure and a new policy for the provincial council. A team of six executive members travelled to all seven regions sharing this valuable information. The meetings were well attended, with much dialogue occurring. The presentations were well received and the evaluations indicated a job well done. There was a great deal of excitement among members as they saw the restructuring as a plausible change.
The year 2017 was extremely busy for the provincial president, traveling, attending meetings, writing letters and meeting with parish councils to assure they would not be forgotten. I have certainly enjoyed every minute of each day. The members I worked with on my executive made it a rewarding experience for me. We laughed together and cried together; this made us stronger. People make friends, but God chose these friends for me through the Catholic Women’s League.
May Our Lady of Good Counsel continue to bless each of you as you work for your church, community and God and Canada.