National President-Elect and Chairperson of Organization
The implementation committee, struck by the national executive/board, and led by Sharon Ciebin, Lisa Henry, Sister Susan Scott and Life Member Jacqueline Nogier, worked conscientiously on the first year strategies approved in the 2018-2023 strategic plan. It was “all systems go” as the strategies to include, affirm and validate members (led by Sharon), to reorganize the League (led by Lisa), and to market the League (led by Lisa) met via teleconference calls numerous times. The committee and working groups clocked more than 3,000 hours researching, culling information, collaborating, creating surveys and calling members across Canada for their input. More than 5,000 members took part in presentations on “The League of the Future—Year 1” to learn about the work accomplished to date and what was to come.
Recruit Members and Maintain Membership
The 2019 membership stood at 75,463. Membership in parish councils ranged from 1 to 279, all sharing the same love of the League. Parish councils continued to struggle with vacancies in the position of president-elect. In numerous parish councils where someone served as a president-elect, that person was unwilling to take on the president’s position. Reasons cited included a lack of time, energy or training. Members were engaged in fundraising and special events, with far fewer attending meetings.
The most popular method of recruiting members continued to be via some form of personal invitation, then through advertising in the church bulletin/bulletin board, followed by potluck dinners, membership teas and other social events. Several parish councils mentioned education was an incentive to join. High on the list of engaging new members were: welcoming them at meetings; having personal conversations with them; extending invitations to them; and gifting them with new member kits. Visibility in the parish by wearing a League pin and scarf while participating in ministries was a focus for a few parish councils, as was recruitment presentations at mass. Spiritual advisor support always had a positive impact. Several parish councils indicated a desire to increase its cultural diversity. Members who were no longer able to participate were delivered baking, visited in person, spoken to on the telephone and sent cards.
The presentation of service pins was highest on the list of how members were recognized. One base council in Military Ordinariate Provincial Council framed photographs of members with a short biography to recognize their League and community work, which were displayed in the church foyer.
Of 1,176 parish councils, 756 (or 64.3%) used the online system for membership administration.
Strategic planning sessions, including one that was web-based, were the most attended events delivered at regional, diocesan and provincial meetings. Members who participated in working groups for the implementation committee identified that opportunity as a unique source of skills utilization or development. While some League development days were offered, many indicated these did not occur in their area. Specific leadership development opportunities were rarely offered, which gave further rise to a lack of eligibility for leadership positions. Many provincial councils that had members participate in the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Program called on them to deliver presentations, which was readily accepted. Workshops held in conjunction with conventions were viewed as the most opportune time to have leadership sessions.
League Resource Material
The Constitution & Bylaws continued to be the most popular resource. Different than in past years, the next “top three” in order of resources to have on hand were The Canadian League, CWL Prays and the Executive Handbook. Communiqués were mentioned as sources of inspiration, motivation and education. Online access was favourably acknowledged by some.
Annual reports were an important means of communicating with others in the parish council, community and country. As of December 31st, the League had 1,176 parish councils with 802 participating in the annual report survey. That was up almost seven per cent from last year. Requested changes were made to the questionnaire, which improved completion. New issues did surface, but national office worked hard to respond as quickly as possible. For the first time, age demographics were asked, and age ranges for more than 49,000 members were submitted. This information would be valuable for various aspects of League work.
The reviewing of minutes, either as a group or individually, was the method of choice used to complete the annual report. Monthly activity calendars and chairpersons’ reports were valuable as well. The enhancement of the diocesan level having access to the survey was viewed positively as it allowed for monitoring of parish councils needing follow up.
The League’s 15 honorary life members and 335 life members continued to be valued for their many works at all levels of the League. They served as life member liaisons, workshop facilitators, researchers, parliamentarians, guides in discussion and on special projects and support in a multitude of ways.
Life member liaisons made contact with honorary and life members by way of communiques, e-mails, telephone calls and cards. Members were recognized on their birthdays and when prayers were requested. The national life member liaison took on additional tasks of writing biographies and collecting photographs of new life members for submission to The Canadian League.
At the winter meeting in Winnipeg, the board was pleased to accept the following 11 new life members by motion:
Shirley Christo Brampton, Ontario
Chantal Devine Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Marie-Theresa Lamphier Windsor, Ontario
Linda McClinton Prince George, British Columbia
Susan Melchiorre Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Margaret Schwab Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Ruby Sharpe St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Ana Sousa Cambridge, Ontario
Barbara Thuen Winnipeg, Manitoba
Anna Tremblay North Bay, Ontario
Anne Vincelli Cornwall, Ontario