faith | service | social justice

2019 Annual Report – Newfoundland and Labrador

Jun 22, 2020 | Annual Reports, Newfoundland & Labrador, Provincial

Ellen Merrigan
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial President

As provincial president, I was honoured and privileged to represent 18 parish councils. It was quite evident from both the online reporting and written reports that members strived to adhere to the core principles of faith, service and social justice. Although small in numbers, great work continued in all parish councils. It was obvious they held the League Object “to achieve individual and collective spiritual development” as a high priority. This was portrayed by the many prayer services, reflections, rosaries, stations of the cross, memorial services for the deceased, days of reflections and services to honour Our Lady of Good Counsel. Parish councils took part in “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”, Divine Mercy Sunday services, World Day of Prayer and other ecumenical services.

The provincial executive embraced the national theme, Care for Our Common Home, and provided a plan to promote it. National Water Day (March 22nd) was publicized, and a spiritual program focusing on water was distributed to all councils. Most parish councils participated in the “National Water Pledge Challenge” campaign. They were encouraged to develop action items regarding water issues pertinent to their local area. The guest speaker at the 39th annual provincial convention spoke on “Fracking”, a topic especially important to Lourdes and the west coast councils. At the fall meeting, the guest speaker from the Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice highlighted Pope Francis’ call for all to become good stewards of the earth.

The provincial resolutions committee drafted Resolution 2019.01 Wetlands Conservation. This resolution was adopted at the convention in June. As president, I wrote the premier concerning this matter. Members were urged to write letters to the premier and provincial minister responsible for the environment. Members continually pursued ways to protect and care for the environment. There was tree planting, cleaning of beaches, cleanups of trash along road sides, recycling, Earth Hour, refurbishing and elimination of plastic bags. Members tried to do small things that would count in the long run.

Parish councils demonstrated enthusiasm about following up on resolutions and motions. They reported members had written letters to appropriate government representatives. Based on motions adopted at the convention, letters were sent to government representatives concerning the health and well-being of seniors who live in long-term care facilities. A motion on autism was acted upon. They also wrote to government officials regarding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and medical assistance in dying.

The rights and dignity of human beings were constantly challenged. Members tried to bring about change by being proactive and used their voices, votes and pens to let government officials know what was important to them. Members knew with the help of the Holy Spirit, they could make a difference.

Parish councils were very involved with promoting the sanctity of human life and its sacredness from natural conception to natural death. They supported the Centre for Life, attended prayer services for the unborn and educated themselves by attending presentations and films such as Fatal Flaws.

Members were strong advocates for seniors whose lives were enhanced by visits both to their homes and long-term care facilities. They volunteered to bring holy communion to the sick and elderly. Youth were also supported. Life was important and precious at all stages.

Members continued to reach out to the disadvantaged in the community. Parish councils provided lunches for seniors, supported food drives, donated to women’s shelters, Gathering Place and even delivered “Blessing Bags” on the streets to the homeless. Monetary donations were made to Catholic missions, Coady International Institute, Doctors without Borders, the Canadian Red Cross, Holy Childhood Association and various other organizations. Members from all parish councils answered the call to serve and provided support for anyone in need.

Parish councils upheld and defended Christian education. Apart from the province’s several private Catholic schools, Newfoundland and Labrador had no public Catholic schools. However, members were involved in volunteering at local schools and parish councils were aware of how religious education was delivered at the parish level. Several members were involved with sacramental preparation and catechetical programs in their parish. Some parish councils provided gifts (rosaries and bibles) to children receiving the sacraments. Some members were involved in the Rites of Christian Initiation. Parish councils took part in the Pornography Hurts campaign.

Many members played important roles in the church community. Some had leadership roles on parish councils and liturgy committees, and were leaders in ministry. It was evident that members showed their concern and support for other women by the support they provided for shelters, the letter writing to government condemning violence against women and the help given to Indigenous women. Parish councils worked to become more aware of the plight of Indigenous women.

Many good things occurred; however, some challenges were faced. Recruitment of general members and leadership positions continued to be a struggle. On a sad note, one parish council was lost. The use of technology for ageing members presented its problems. Annual reporting continued to be an area of concern for members. Parish councils continued to have trouble accessing the surveys and questioned the relevancy of the information collected; however, more parish councils used the online process than in 2018. The online report summary from national office did not match the number of parish councils that submitted online. Parish councils reported not receiving the parish council mailings. The geographical distance and the high costs of visiting parish councils made it difficult to share and explain the strategic planning process.

In reviewing the annual reports, the overwhelming message was one of pride. Members had great pride in their councils and their love and support of the League. It was amazing what the League could accomplish when members worked together, being good stewards of creation. I was in awe and admiration of all the fantastic women I served and represented—all strived to serve and lived the gospel values in today’s world.