December message from National President, Margaret Ann Jacobs

Greetings from Elmvale, Ontario as we enjoy one of the last warm days of fall. The leaves have fallen, the days are shorter, and we brace ourselves in anticipation of the impending snow in this snowbelt area of Canada.

Prior to our fall executive meeting, the strategic planning steering committee met and by using feedback from the provincial workshops proceeded with the next step in our planning strategically endeavour. Each time we meet, whether by conference call or in person, my anxiety level is elevated as I look at the challenging agenda. But as we carefully move ahead step by step, I always feel reinvigorated and reinvested in this most valuable process. Critical issues were identified and prioritized. Our core purpose, values, mission statement and envisioned future were adjusted in light of your input. Each of our three goals and their objectives were revised. Committees were aligned to respond to the objectives and issues. Feedback was sought from the national executive. Our next challenge is to develop strategies that will deliver the desired results. To this end, new volunteers have come forward and committees are in the process of developing draft strategies. A FAQ has been added to our website to keep members informed. Exciting times!

At our fall meeting the executive had the opportunity to experience a KAIROS Blanket Exercise. Even for those of us who had previously participated in this activity, it was an extremely moving experience. I would strongly urge your council to arrange for this activity through KAIROS. Following our meeting, Fr. David Reilander, Catholic Missions In Canada, took several members on an excursion to St. Alexander Parish of the Sagkeeng First Nation. We celebrated Eucharist at the mission, enjoyed a feast and fellowship in their community hall and were generously gifted by Chief Henderson and the parishioners. They are indeed blessed to have Fr. Augustine Ezediniru, smmm as their pastor. What a wonderful experience!

Bazaars, Birthright and Out of the Cold duties have filled my time along with a relaxing visit with my son and his family in Cochrane.

While in Alberta, Michael, my husband, and I had the privilege of attending the 75th anniversary of St. James Parish Council in Okotoks, Alberta. This was probably the only time that a parish, diocesan, provincial and national president were all on hand to share in the festivities. How blessed we were to have National Spiritual Advisor Bishop McGrattan (Calgary) celebrate Eucharist in this stunningly modern church!

I was warmly welcomed to the 60th anniversary of St. John Vianney Parish Council in Barrie, Ontario where they boasted several new members! I presented them with pins. The council already has over 80 renewals for 2018. Great work girls!

My mind has been preoccupied with finalizing speakers for the 98th annual convention in August, 2018 and I am concentrating on being hopeful. The Spirit will provide what is needed.

Advent is upon us, a time when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ so long ago and anticipate his return. As we light the candles on our advent wreath weekly, we need to focus on the four things God gives us through His Son’s birth:
 hope – the confidence that good will win over evil
 peace – that assures His followers that He is in control even when it feels like nobody is;
 love – that is beyond our understanding
 joy – for He will deliver us

As December unfolds, call to mind and celebrate with your councils (if you can) :

December 5 – International Volunteer Day
December 6 – National Day of Remembrance and Action in Violence Against Women (check out
Women’s InterChurch Council website under Resources and then Ending Violence
Against Women (prayer services previously generated by them)
December 8 – Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception
December 10 – Human Rights Day (UN)
December 12 – Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 25 – Birthday of the Christ Child

As the New Year will be upon us in a flash this would be a good time to plan for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18-25, 2018.

Take advantage of resource materials released in October for the 2018 National Week for Life and Family May 13-20. These can be ordered online from Catholic Organization for Life and Family and they look promising.

Let us not forget the Papal Intention for December – The Elderly – That the elderly sustained by families and Christian communities may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.

As you busy yourself with your plans for Christmas, take the time to pause, reflect and try to be a little more thoughtful. Make the greatest gift you give this Christmas be yourself – your presence, your words of affirmation and / or gratitude, your patient listening for a friend in need – all the small kindnesses that make you who you are.

I extend to each of you the wish that is in my Christmas card from DaySpring:

“May the heart of Christmas –
the love of Jesus,
the joy of grace,
and the peace of God –
be yours today and always!
Blessed Christmas”

God bless,

Margaret Ann