99th Annual National Convention
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
After morning prayer, the strategic plan video appeared with opening lines scrolling into the future as the familiar soundtrack theme from Star Trek made attendees hearts beat faster. National President-Elect and Chairperson of Organization Fran Lucas presented “The League of the Future: Year 1” using the analogy of building a house. She briefly covered the history that led to strategic planning and what has happened so far, commented on projected timelines and goals, introduced the implementation committee and current working groups (see CWL website for names), and fielded questions. Lively discussion showed members are interested and invested in the strategic plan. For more details Fran referred members to The Catholic Women’s League of Canada Plans Strategically (2018-2022), which has been widely distributed and which is available for $1.10. She reminded members that it will take time to bear fruit and by next year there should be some. Prayer underpins all that members do and Fran suggested that parish councils make it a habit to say the Prayer for Renewal. She asked councils to watch for a Notice of Motion for an instructed vote in the 2020 edition of The Canadian League magazine and to be on the alert for notices recruiting volunteers for future working groups. Members are encouraged to volunteer and encourage other members to do so. Updated information will be on the website, in the magazine, on Facebook, in communiques and in parish council mailings. Fran’s presentation will be made available to provincial presidents.
Standing committee chairperson reports for community life, education and health, communications, resolutions and legislation were presented over the course of the day. Please read them on the League website and/or in The Canadian League.
Donations distributed under standing committees were as follows:
- Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC) $38,160.20
- Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) $16,346.13 apoteksv.se
- Coady International Institute $23,991.44 to scholars in Global Change Leaders Program instead of the former recipient program. This change was ratified by vote.
Fr. David Reilander from CMIC described the League and CMIC as a great partnership over decades and he looked to the future. Together at countless conventions and meetings, more than $1,325,255 has been donated by the League and its members over 25 years, and Catholic missions have been held in prayer. He reminded us that Canada is a mission country, especially in the north where the presence of the church is vital.
Following Fr. Reilander’s presentation, a motion to declare a national day of prayer for Canadian home missions was passed.
Melodie Gabriel, representing CNEWA, and a beneficiary of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation program, brought thanks for the League’s support and updated attendees on conditions in the Middle East. Christians are few but mighty in these countries where they play vital roles in interfaith dialogue, health services and aid to those in need. Hope can be brought to Holy Land Christians through prayer, donations and spreading the word about CNEWA.
Following Ms. Gabriel’s presentation, a motion to declare a national day of prayer for Christians in the Holy Land was passed.
Kathleen Provost, campaign director at St. Francis Xavier University, talked about the university’s history in education, especially its innovative programs that seek to support full and abundant life for all. Hence, the establishment of Coady International Institute, which offers programs to developing nations and Canadian Indigenous women. She said the League knows that educating a woman ripples into her family and community, and she thanked members for their support. Through video she shared the words and stories of women who have benefitted from the programs.
Michael Shea and Bonnie Tejada from Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC) showed a video about the gift of Catholic health care. Bonnie spoke about “awaken,” a program to raise awareness of the need for Catholic health care. Catholic health care is a ministry, a mission, a movement that involves a call to serve, a culture of involvement, a commitment to social justice, and leadership. Awaken’s message is to tell CHAC’s story and extend an invitation to participate as an ambassador in the social media campaign.
After lunch, a rollicking group of Quebec participants invited and sought to entice attendees to register for next year’s convention in Montreal. Led by the iconic Bonhomme, several historic Quebec characters participated, for example Mayor Drapeau, a Montreal Canadiens hockey player, Expo baseball player, Kateri Tekakwitha and sisters. Montreal’s attractions were celebrated in a video, bookmark hand fans, a postcard invitation, a fact sheet with a starter kit to the local lingo (parlez-vous) and maple candies. Plan to celebrate the 100th anniversary in Montreal in 2020.
Betty Colaneri, chairperson of the centenary committee, reported on the huge success of the HUGS Project. The goal was 2019 packages, but 7,000 packages were collected, 5,500 separate items donated, $4,000 was received in donations and $900.00 in gift cards were received. Packaging varied from backpacks, cosmetic cases and shoe boxes, to baskets. One parish council invited incarcerated women to make bags. As Bridge over Troubled Waters played, the provincial presidents joined hands and circled a table laden with symbolic bags while pictures of HUG collections from councils across the country appeared on screen. 2020 will be “Lights, Camera, Action,” including a fashion show with “fascinating” hats.
Resolution 2019.02 Canadian Support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which “urges the federal government to support, sign, and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” was adopted.
National Past President and Chairperson of Laws Margaret Ann Jacobs reported, noting that the strategic planning will lead to changes to the Constitution & Bylaws.
National President and Chairperson of International Relations Anne-Marie Gorman noted the new slate of officers for the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO) and four issues that WUCWO has chosen to focus on—healthy planet, families, violence against women and a call to holiness, all familiar topics to League members.
In his report, National Spiritual Advisor Bishop Stephen Jensen (Prince George) offered appreciation on behalf of the bishops. He said how impressed he was by the dedication and commitment to high standards witnessed in the League.
Time allowed for more answers to questions placed in the “Ask Anne” box, something that was very popular during the convention.
The closing Eucharistic celebration at St. Mary’s Cathedral included reaffirmation of officers and the flag recessional. Bishop Jensen spoke on St. Pius X’s encyclical about, “We have no other program but that of restoring all things to Christ (Paul, Eph.). It is our privilege and duty as baptized to be part of that restoration. The League has this goal of restoration in all its planning.” Referring to the first reading where the trees decline leadership, bishop said it reminded him of some CWL parish councils. He noted that the people in the gospel story of the workers in the vineyard answered from an economic perspective of scarcity. But God’s ways are not our ways; scarcity is not a problem. Jesus shows abundance if only we accept and live it. This vocation to restore is always lived communally. Women of faith have lived that invitation, and now it is our turn. We must live divine law with frank profession of faith, openness with religion, and doing charitable work to bring truth to others. “Sounds a lot like a strategic plan,” said the bishop. The gospel is always relevant. Saints offer examples of intercession. The whole community of the church shares in communion, life and mission. For this we give thanks and take our place in the great army to restore all things in Christ.
The gala banquet featured a piper led ceremonial entrance of the national executive and special guests, toasts to the League and Canada, prayer, delicious food, appreciations and entertainment, all of which were greatly enjoyed by those present. An acapella quartet, The Heebee-jeebees, delighted the crowd with many familiar songs. Two items were a special treat: a song performance designed to show just how low one member could send his voice; and the addition of an honorary fifth member to the quartet to perform a key role in The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Bishop Jensen good naturedly played along and endeared himself to members.
And so to bed to get ready for a day of meetings for some, tours for others, packing and returning home for all.