faith | service | social justice

2018 Annual Report – Manitoba

May 31, 2019 | Annual Reports, Manitoba, Provincial

Rolande Chernichan
Manitoba Provincial Council President

Promptings of the Holy Spirit inspired and empowered Manitoba’s 2,200 members to multiply ways to respond to the Lord’s call. Action on the national theme was combined with an energized response to the call for volunteers to bring to fruition the final months of organizing the national convention. What a feeling of accomplishment as members, archbishops and spiritual advisors engaged in making the convention a memorable experience!

Diocesan conventions built momentum for hosting the national convention. Keewatin-The Pas Diocesan Council welcomed a new spiritual advisor and a returning president. St. Boniface Diocesan Council welcomed a new president, while Winnipeg Diocesan Council welcomed a new spiritual advisor. Manitoba Provincial Council’s 70th convention was an occasion to recall and celebrate history.

Reports reflected increased online reporting by parish presidents (68%), and 100% of diocesan presidents. Councils reported despite officer vacancies.

Presidents relayed the League’s position on current issues, priorities and new programs primarily from The Canadian League, national communiqués, diocesan newsletters, and the provincial website. National priorities introduced, discussed or acted upon were excluding medical assistance in dying from palliative care/hospice facilities, protecting the conscience rights of healthcare professionals and removal of the Canada Summer Jobs program attestation. Topics formed part of general meetings, and were communicated through standing committee chairpersons, e-mail or newsletter. Four councils persevered despite vacant president positions.

Almost 50% of parish council presidents met with the spiritual advisor monthly while one-third rarely met. Most reported the spiritual advisor was supportive of the League, though other duties and lack of tradition affected attendance at meetings. Diocesan presidents met and communicated with the bishop two or three times and were supported by spiritual advisors who attended executive meetings.

Resources used most included council policy and procedure manuals (66%) and the Constitution & Bylaws. Fewer than 50% used the Executive Handbook, Robert’s Rules of Order Revised and the National Manual of Policy and Procedure. Members appreciated online access to League resources.

Official documents primarily signed by presidents included cheques, banking documents and letters directed within the League. Presidents represented councils at church functions, diocesan meetings and conventions, and national convention. Fifty-one per cent of parish presidents were fully subsidized to attend diocesan conventions; even less to attend provincial convention or national convention. More than one-half attended conferences and workshops without subsidy. Financial support to fulfill presidential duties could have been improved.

Parish councils had a parish policy manual (75%) and some would have appreciated assistance developing one. Policies added to manuals related to financial matters, death of members, complimentary membership for elderly/shut-ins, and funding to encourage new members to become more active. Presidents (72%) used the Executive Handbook to understand/oversee the duties of the executive. Over one-half provided a summary of council activities to members by e-mail, oral report or written report. Minutes and chairperson reports were valuable in completing annual reports.

Some councils had committees for events such as, funeral lunches, teas and bazaars, visitation and fundraising. Others planned events at general meetings.

Presidents reported being the council’s official spokesperson with membership as the key topic. League letterhead was used when corresponding outside of the League, with reference to the council’s membership. Fewer than one-third of presidents felt assisted or supported by the former past president, immediate past president and current executive. The greatest challenges for new presidents included keeping members interested and feeling overwhelmed, as well as the amount of paperwork and recruiting.

Most councils (78%) appreciated a national theme to focus council activities. The theme was explored through spiritual programs, prayers and workshops. Councils (48%) liked the change of theme with each national president.

Spiritual development involved reflections and meditations at monthly meetings; some councils created special programs while others participated in parish-led initiatives. CWL Prays, Ceremonies Booklet and the rosary were used for prayer. Many accessed spiritual resources online. Spiritual development was through involvement in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults formation, catechetic programs and through study of encyclicals, Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’. Members were active in lay ministries. Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Vatican and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops websites were sourced. Councils donated to Catholic Missions In Canada, missions in northern Manitoba and to international missions. World Day of Prayer, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada were supported through individual participation and prayer.

Councils recruited through bulletin announcements, promotional displays, phone calls, e-mails and by personal invitation, and at events such as, teas, pot-lucks and pulpit presentations. Support of the spiritual advisor was key to recruitment. Free membership to new members yielded good results. Mentoring was provided to new members and councils presented new member kits, awards, service pins, membership certificates and certificates of merit. Membership and reaffirmation ceremonies were utilized. Members unable to attend meetings were kept informed by newsletters, minutes, phone calls, cards and notes. Personal visits included communion, baking and gifts.

Members were encouraged to attend League development days, workshops, conventions and retreats. Many councils fundraised to ensure members could represent the council at events. There was need to educate members that participation in League events beyond the parish level was for all members. One member was a recipient of the national bursary fund. Life members were appreciated for their love of the League, mentoring, facilitating workshops and serving as parliamentarian.

Christian family life was promoted through marriage preparation/enrichment events, natural family planning methods and workshops/seminars on family life. Members organized and participated in National Family Week events. Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Campaign Life Coalition and local pro-life organizations were supported financially. Members signed Petition of One Million to support the unborn child, organized by Alliance for Life Canada, and participated in 40 Days for Life, March for Life and pro-life dinners. Members carried the provincial council’s pro-life banner in the March for Life. Youth ministry was encouraged—NET Ministries of Canada, Sunday school and youth camps were sponsored. Most councils supported and reached out to the disabled, elderly and widows. Most councils supported priestly vocations financially and through prayer.

Community life initiatives supported those suffering from domestic violence, human trafficking and homelessness as well as the struggles of Indigenous women. Most councils acted on the attestation requirement regarding the Canada Summer Jobs program. Councils supported food banks, hampers, women’s shelters, missions and drop-in centres by donating money, food and clothing. Members volunteered and gave prayerful support, knit prayer shawls and sang in personal care homes. Members attended workshops on social and economic justice. They donated to support immigrants. Remembrance Day services and the Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign were supported. Save a Family Plan, Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Chalice were financially supported.

Catholic school education was promoted; members participated with sacramental initiation programs and literacy skills. Coady International Institute and the National Bursary Fund were promoted. Councils awarded scholarships primarily to high school students. The focus on mental health was acted on by most councils, with several health and wellness organizations supported financially. Councils participated in 12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care. Environmental action included recycling, reducing use of Styrofoam cups, paper and disposable water bottles. Awareness education about bioethics as well as action on Resolution 2018.02 Setting a Standard for Products Marketed as “Flushable” could have been improved.

Articles in The Canadian League were a resource for advocacy and action. Media was used to promote faith-oriented programs and the League. Councils reported favourably about viewing the new national website and members were encouraged to access it often. E-mail was the primary method used for communication to members. Council activities and events were promoted in church bulletins, by e-mail and on bulletin boards. Some councils produced a newsletter. Members were informed about the influence of pornography and human trafficking, and the lack of age verification controls on adult websites. Pornography Hurts postcards were distributed for mailing to government.

There was interest in resolutions despite the position often being vacant. Members attended workshops to learn about developing resolutions and two councils developed resolutions. The League website was sourced for action on resolutions and members were made aware of resolutions at meetings or via e-mail, which resulted in writing letters to government and signing petitions. Review and monitoring of League resolutions and action on them could have been improved.

Councils reported awareness of the names of elected officials and mailings from them, as well as some federal legislation monitored nationally. Members felt knowledgeable about issues discussed by each level of government. Education and letter writing were done regarding Resolution 2018.03 Legislate Designation of Hospice/Palliative Care Services in Facilities to Exclude Medical Assistance in Dying and Resolution 2017.04 Protection from Coercion of Conscience for Healthcare Professionals Legislation.

The provincial executive provided leadership and promoted the national theme in conjunction with the provincial theme, Caring is Sharing. Promotion and financial support of Catholic Missions In Canada was a year-long focus.

A survey was developed to evaluate participation by parish officers regarding online annual reporting and where help was needed to improve reporting. The survey sought to establish that at least one member of the executive had a computer, whether prayer councils filed annual reports, whether information from national and provincial levels was communicated, the level of involvement of spiritual advisors, the time spent on spiritual programs at meetings, and the level of commitment to send delegates to diocesan and provincial conventions.

In solidarity with Indigenous peoples and out of respect for the environment, spiritual programs for the Day of Celebration and the provincial convention focused on Indigenous spirituality and rituals. A “water carrier” guest speaker and a special prayer program focused on safe water supplies in Canada and the world. The provincial convention was highlighted by updating its history, a power point of photos, and an archival book developed about each of the provincial presidents.

Members formed an honour guard with National President Margaret Ann Jacobs at the Jubilation Mass marking the 200th anniversary of the church in western and northern Canada. Members managed the volunteer centre for day-long events.

The provincial executive met with the premier and provincial cabinet members to present resolutions. Outstanding volunteerism and participation in the planning and hosting of the national convention in Winnipeg was the highlight of 2018! Attendance by rural members was made possible through an accommodations subsidy from funds invested after hosting the 2008 national convention.

The provincial executive ordered and distributed to parish councils 8,000 Pornography Hurts postcards, calling for mandatory age verification to access adult websites. The annual resolutions workshop was expanded to include a legislation workshop with education about Hansard, debates and petition requirements. Attendees wrote letters regarding Resolution 2018.02 Setting a Standard for Products Marketed as “Flushable.”

The provincial council’s website was launched mid-November. The provincial chairperson of communications position was vacant; however, information was shared through the president. Diocesan presidents were the valuable link to parish councils using e-mail. A message of appreciation to The Prairie Messenger was purchased for publication in its final issue in May. Facetime was used for the provincial spiritual advisor’s message when weather prevented his attendance to the fall executive meeting.

Regular communiqués by the provincial president were initiated, as well as networking and invitation to Military Ordinariate Provincial Council and the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada for provincial events. Meeting with Winnipeg and St. Boniface archbishops was initiated to promote the League’s strategic plan and its 100th anniversary. Permission was given to promote the League through presentations at deanery meetings in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg by the provincial and diocesan president.

Manitoba members were awesome! They were afire with the prompting, nudging and inspiration of the Holy Spirit! Members showed spirited energy in response to the national theme and in the many ways God called each of them. Annual reports revealed members were hardworking and dedicated, served with humility, and poured love and faith into everything they did. Members and parish councils truly were the “heartbeat of the League!” Thank you for the honour and privilege to serve as Manitoba provincial president!