Ontario Provincial President
- Thirteen of 13 diocesan councils reported
- Thirteen of 13 provincial executive members reported
It was my honour to represent members in 2019 as president. The more than 42,000 members across the province were dedicated to their parishes, communities, province and country.
Parish councils acted on and educated members on several national priorities. Many diocesan councils hosted sessions to update members on the work of the national implementation committee as they continued to navigate through the five-year strategic plan. “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” was celebrated and was attended by many parishioners who supported the League’s initiative to improve palliative care. Members supported the national theme, Care for Our Common Home, by education and practice of the reduce, reuse, recycle and refresh policies. All embraced the “National Water Pledge Challenge” campaign.
Parish councils supported the “Warmth and Comfort Project” by collecting socks, peanut butter and crackers for the homeless, and the “HUG Project” gifted blessing bags, backpacks, purses and shoeboxes filled with essentials for those in need.
As part of the provincial theme of Homelessness, the chairperson of legislation and her sub-committee came up with a “Legislation Scavenger Hunt”. Members worked in teams and researched to discover what programs and services were available in their communities to target homelessness (such a vast topic) and what legislation was in place (provincially and federally). It was hoped that the project would spark interest in the legislation standing committee and, by participating, members did their part to try to alleviate homelessness. Twenty-eight teams participated. Those who went on the hunt expressed how much they appreciated the opportunity to participate, and were glad they did, as they discovered services offered in their cities/towns they never knew existed. One team noted, “The knowledge gained was unbelievable.” Members were amazed at what they learned about programs available in “their own backyard.” Congratulations on a successful project and theme.
The annual provincial convention, hosted by the Kingston Diocesan Council, was spectacular. A record number of members (425) attended. Attendees enjoyed the spiritual programs, guest speakers and business sessions.
A new provincial theme of Loneliness was introduced in July. Councils were asked to focus on education and awareness of those suffering from this quiet and often overlooked emotion. Guest speakers were invited into many parish councils for days of reflection and workshops.
A renewed focus was placed on leadership development. “Find Your Voice!” a course to develop communication skills, increase self-confidence, and provide a warm, supportive and fun learning experience was developed in the Sault Ste. Marie Diocesan Council and shared. Members were excited by the format and experience. Many parish councils went back to the basics of leadership and refocused on spiritual development. Many workshops were presented using the Constitution & Bylaws, Executive Handbook and Leading the League.
Vocations were supported with financial and spiritual support through parish council-based initiatives and the provincial Bishop Bernard F. Pappin Memorial Bursary Fund.
Website Wednesdays continued to be promoted. Members gained knowledge and shared information from national, provincial, diocesan and parish websites. Improving communication was a constant goal for all councils. Even though e-mail was the preferred method of communication, most councils were aware of those members who did not have access to technology and so used the telephone to relay information. Monthly newsletters were used very effectively in keeping members (and non-members) informed in parishes and communities.
Resolutions were acted on by many parish councils. Resolutions adopted at the provincial convention in July were sent to the premier and several ministers by e-mail and responses were received. The provincial executive was unable to arrange a government visit because the legislature was only in session for 75 days. Parish councils contacted local members of provincial parliament and issues of concern were discussed. There was a renewed importance on making elected officials aware of these issues of concern and members found their voices to promote change.
Membership and filling executive positions was still the biggest challenge. Parish councils struggled to keep members engaged—having a national and provincial theme was notably helpful. It was often said that if all Catholic women knew the benefits of this sisterhood, membership would soar.
Parish councils must strive to be inclusive and welcoming so that everyone can gain the blessings that The Catholic Women’s League of Canada has to offer, especially in Ontario!