Manitoba Provincial President
Three of three diocesan councils reported.
Inform the Membership of the League’s Position
The Canadian League appeared to be the primary source for membership to obtain information, followed closely by: diocesan, provincial and national communiques; parish bulletins; the national website; the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops website; and the provincial council website and newsletters. Also accessed was the Catholic Organization for Life and Family website.
National priorities introduced, discussed or acted upon by parish councils were: excluding medical assistance in dying from palliative care and hospice facilities; Care for Our Common Home; rights of the pre-born under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; removing the Canada Summer Jobs Program attestation; and standards of testing and labelling for products deemed flushable.
Foster Open Communication with the Spiritual Advisor on All League Matters
Most parish councils felt the spiritual advisor was supportive. They were extremely appreciative of their spiritual advisor’s involvement in activities. For those whose spiritual advisor did not attend meetings and events, reasons cited were duties outside the parish and the lack of tradition of having him at meetings. Regular communication helped foster and develop better relationships and understanding of the League.
Preside at Meetings and Conventions
All councils used the resources available to them, namely, the policy and procedure manual (either council or national), the Constitution & Bylaws, Robert’s Rules of Order and Parliamentary Procedure. Attending conventions at any level helped foster knowledge of how to run meetings.
Presidents used their signing authority on cheques, banking documents, petitions and letters concerning League business directed to parties within and outside of the League.
Provide Active Leadership
Presidents represented their councils by attending parish functions, anniversaries, fundraisers, dinners, sacramental events, special masses, provincial and diocesan meetings, conferences and conventions. They attended pro-life events, workshops, school ceremonies, Remembrance Day services and World Day of Prayer.
Less than one-half were reimbursed for their expenses in attending these events by the council.
Initiate Policy, in consultation With the Officers of Council
Most councils had and utilized a policy manual, and updated it regularly. Others incorporated policies regarding years of service and Bellelle Guerin awards, and adjustments to the value of honorariums for speakers and gifts for shut-ins and members who had been ill.
Keep Informed on the Operation of the League and Report Annually to the Membership
Councils utilized the Executive Handbook as well as past presidents as active resources. Many summarized the year’s activities in a report to members. Most councils struck sub-committees to fulfil a goal, namely, fundraising of various kinds, collecting goods for social outreach and signatures for petitions, as well as for visitations and funeral lunches. In addition to visiting shut-ins, many members assisted with mass for residents of nursing homes, and hosted Christmas and birthday parties. Following special masses, members hosted coffee socials and offered rides where needed. Others, in addition to bringing communion to shut-ins, also brought Christmas dainties, took seniors out for a meal and entertained them with games and special treats, as needed or warranted.
Parish council presidents spoke about medical assistance in dying, rights of the unborn, homelessness, child poverty, right to clean water, water conservation in homes, heart health, pornography, and human trafficking, including trafficking of children. They also spoke of organizations and events such as March for Life, Operation Christmas Child, A Port in the Storm, Samaritan’s Purse, Chalice, Save a Family Plan, World Vision and Catholic Missions In Canada. They spoke of the national and provincial voluntary funds, women’s safe haven/shelters and various programs such as local friendship centres, programs for inmates, local programs in need and a Knights of Columbus project to support filling a dresser with clothes for a mother who decided to keep her baby. They also spoke about the support of local charities and other topics of importance.
Parish council presidents addressed their parish not only on behalf of the above issues but also in regards to upcoming fundraisers and monetary and goods collections for the disadvantaged. Parish bulletins, e-mails, newsletters and reports were also utilized to reach out to members about upcoming events.
Pulpit presentations were used to inform parishioners of the benefits of being a member, as well as to inform of the current theme, concerns regarding environmental impact, inviting youth to get involved, pornography issues, World Day of Prayer, and much more.
In carrying out their duties, parish council presidents reached out to immediate and former past presidents, life members (where available) and their current executives. In addition to learning her duties, the most significant challenge a new president faced in transitioning into the role was not having a full slate of officers. Others felt inadequate in areas of running meetings, trying to please, resistance to new ideas, others’ expectations, and delegating. Others expressed frustration that they had been unable to reach out to ethnic minorities in the parish.
Most parish council presidents found it very beneficial to have a national theme upon which to focus the council’s activities. Presidents felt that between two and three years was an adequate amount of time to allow between theme changes.
In summary, parish council presidents were proud that members supported each other and enjoyed working together toward a common goal. They were thankful for the presidents who had gone before them and laid a good foundation for the rest to follow. Although members were ageing, they enjoyed getting together and loved the involvement. Members were passionate about making their collective voices heard regarding several important issues. Parish councils worked hard to ensure a good balance of spirituality, education and fun.