National President-Elect and Chairperson of Organization
Approval of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada Plans Strategically 2018-2022 at the national convention in August set the wheels in motion for action to begin. The implementation committee was chosen from numerous applicants and an orientation session for the committee was held in conjunction with the fall national executive board meeting. The team consisting of Chairperson Sharon Ciebin, Vice-Chairperson Lisa Henry, Secretary Sr. Susan Scott and member Jacqueline Nogier, got right to work, reviewing goals and amalgamating the strategies from 50 to 34. The continued excitement of members to have things happen was positive to hear.
The Constitution & Bylaws indicates the position of chairperson of organization is held by the president-elect. Unfortunately, many councils reported not having a president-elect, putting in jeopardy the five roles of organization, roles critical to the life and success of the council.
Recruit Members and Maintain Membership
The 2018 membership stood at 77,676. Council membership ranged from one to 266 with all making a significant difference in the parish and community. To see the majority of a few councils’ new membership under the age of 40 was wonderful! Familiar recruiting methods included CWL Sundays, pulpit presentations, invitations to meetings, social and spiritual events and membership teas. However, personal invitation to join the League was most effective. Newer initiatives included showing laughter and joy, using social media and having support from the spiritual advisor. One council noted ongoing success offering free first-year membership. Of 1,188 councils, 728 (or 61.3%) used the online system for membership administration.
Councils recognized members’ good works with presentations of maple leaf service pins, insignia pins and certificates at luncheons, teas and new member or reaffirmation ceremonies. Keeping members engaged happened by holding a meeting at a senior’s lodge, online registrations, orientation sessions, including new members in conversations, mentoring and offering sub-committee positions. Military Ordinariate Provincial Council started a closed Facebook group for members to connect from across Canada and for passing along information and prayer requests quickly.
Members who were no longer as active welcomed visits, cards, communion and seasonal gifts.
It was reaffirming to read friendship and support were the largest factors determining why members participated in the League. Attendance was highest at social and spiritual events, while meetings drew the lowest attendance.
Survey results indicated the greatest opportunities for leadership development were those received at any level of convention. Councils struggled to deliver leadership development to assist members in leadership roles or encourage others to let their name stand for election. “Three Cups of Tea” was a new workshop councils embraced. While many held League development days, many more did not.
League Resource Material
National resources covered all aspects of the League from individual chairperson roles to prayers to the most popular—Constitution & Bylaws and National Manual of Policy and Procedure. The Canadian League was a favourite of members who faithfully watched the mail for the newest issue. Provincial and diocesan websites were great sources for new ideas and resources. Downloading online resources was on the rise as it was easily accessible. When it came to promotional material, many councils created their own.
Annual reports were read with great interest and a desire to learn what new things occurred, the results from tried and true processes and events or where councils were in need. It is critical for every council to participate—to ensure each council is represented. This information was also used in various ways by the implementation committee, national chairpersons and national office. As at December 31st, the League had 1,188 active councils, of which 678 participated in the annual report survey. This represented a participation rate of 57.1%, lower than the previous year. Participation is vital whether answering 22 questions or two. The process continues to be made easier; those who encountered the need for help could ask for it at any time.
With 338 life members and 15 honorary life members in Canada, these gifted ladies were cited as “one of the best resources available to us” (Ellen Merrigan, Newfoundland and Labrador). Many served as parliamentarians, speakers, mentors, resolution and letter-writing leaders, event organizers and because of necessity, some filled roles on parish level executives and one as spiritual advisor. The national initiative of planning strategically for the League of the future was a topic of priority whenever life members met.
Provincial life member liaisons were busy staying in contact with life members—a service very much needed and appreciated. Through e-mails and newsletters, they kept life members informed on results of provincial meetings, of ailing and deceased members, and so much more. The great sense of humour of one life member came through when she stated, “Our greatest accomplishment is to be as John Travolta sang ‘Staying alive! Staying alive!’”
At the winter board meeting in Toronto, the board was pleased to accept by motion ten new life members:
Ruth Boden – Hay River, Northwest Territories
Marjorie d’Entremont – Bathurst, New Brunswick
Mary Dobbelsteyn – Fredericton, New Brunswick
Joanne Hough – Lindsay, Ontario
Joyce LeBlanc – Galloway, New Brunswick
Judy Look – Calgary, Alberta
Lynn Olenik – Geraldton, Ontario
Genevieve Sexton – Geraldton, Ontario
Stephanie Spinelli – Smiths Falls, Ontario
Sharon St. Jean – Ashton, Ontario
It was easy to see pride in being a member was palpable as members fulfilled an ever-increasing obligation to make an individual or collective difference in society and stand up for social justice.