Margaret Ann Jacobs
National Past President and Chairperson of Laws
A sense of “pride and the importance of belonging to the League” were reflected in annual reports submitted by provincial past presidents. Clearly evidenced was the experience past presidents were willing to share in efforts “to make the best decisions for the council” (Executive Handbook).
Serve in a Consultative Capacity
Eighty-six per cent of presidents felt supported and encouraged by past presidents who attend executive, general meetings, social and spiritual events. Past presidents actively participated in convention planning, resolutions committees, fundraising events, editing documents and planning meeting agendas, but also chaired special projects and presented workshops on a variety of topics, including planning strategically for the future.
Archives and History
A majority of past presidents (81%) were responsible for archives, although some councils delegated the secretary, treasurer or another member to maintain these treasured documents. Photo albums, scrapbooks, books of life, deceased members’ histories, annual reports, executive and membership lists and statistics, financial statements, minute books, and records of pins and awards presented were stored in filing cabinets, bankers’ boxes, on memory sticks, DVDs, CDs and even in the cloud. Most were stored in a designated room at the church, although some councils stored archival material in private homes. The chancery office, town archive building and historical museum were also used to store council files. Archives were most often retained indefinitely and reviewed only as required. One council created an Archive Retention Summary Guide and purchased acid free materials for safer retention of materials. A handbook for new presidents was generated.
Study and Implementation of the Constitution & Bylaws
More than 90% of parish councils have a copy of the Constitution & Bylaws, although one-half rarely or never accessed these documents to help guide a decision or help with processes and procedures. It is encouraging to note more than one-half of councils reported having council manuals of policy and procedures, which was updated whenever a policy changed. Spiritual advisors were consulted, often monthly, while advice was rarely sought from life members, diocesan, provincial or national executive, or from national office.
Other Duties as Assigned by the President
It is evident from reports councils relied heavily on past presidents. Their expertise was relied upon to organize social and spiritual events, fundraisers and funeral luncheons. Duties included serving on nomination and election committees, filling in on standing committees and attending executive meetings. Councils depended on past presidents to access the League website for information, promote the League’s work and represent the council at various events.
Past presidents who attended national, provincial and diocesan conventions were supportive of the implementation of the envisioned future of the League through The Catholic Women’s League of Canada Plans Strategically 2018-2022. Workshops, surveys, live-streaming session and participation on the forming committees were all cited as opportunities to become more informed about planning strategically and envisioning a future that will honour the core values of faith, service and social justice.
Laws (National Level)
Questions facing councils dealing with unique challenges were addressed with the guidance and oversight of current and past executive members, honorary life members and the executive director. Recommendations for changes to the National Manual of Policy and Procedure were approved at the winter meeting and circulated subsequently.
Past presidents indicated a desire to be even more supportive and encouraging of the president while allowing her to be the key leader.
• help recruit new executive members
• focus on needs of members rather than business
• update files and council history books
• encourage participation at conventions at all levels
• welcome change, new ideas, connect with all existing and new members, respect the views and opinions of others
• develop a brochure outlining archiving processes, length of time to retain, maintain and review files
“Love the League, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, offer a listening ear” (Evelyn Rigby, B.C. & Yukon Provincial Past President).