National Spiritual Advisor Bishop William McGrattan (Calgary)
It gives me great pleasure madam president to advise that this is my fifth and final report! There is a bit of a historical footnote to my five years as national spiritual advisor.
I have served in three dioceses in various areas and time over the five years, and various dioceses have claimed me as the national spiritual advisor, first Toronto, then Peterborough and now Calgary! I have had the opportunity to not only as a bishop be at the national level, but to see the League at work in various parts of Canada. That has been the privilege in serving in this capacity.
The role of the national spiritual advisor is usually one of being in the background. Unfortunately, I think, the national executive sometimes got tired of my interventions! But I had the simple gesture while sitting beside the president at meetings of just putting out my hand, and then gradually they would allow me to speak. I hope that in my role, I have supported you, the members of the League, in all of my interventions.
During these past five years, you have wrestled with many very important issues. I have tried to assist. Even today with the consequences of Canada passing Bill C-14 and the legalization of medical assistance in dying, you have been tenacious, and you have been committed to life. And for that, we, the Canadian bishops, are very grateful for your voice and for the resolutions that will go to government. It will keep them vigilant about the value and dignity of all human life. You have been committed to social justice, despite some relationships with partners. You have stayed the course. The bishops want to acknowledge your role as a lay association in calling another lay association to accountability. And that is what Pope Benedict indicated as one of the signs of maturity of lay associations in the church, that you can be united, that you can work together, and then you can challenge one another in your growth. I want to acknowledge your commitment to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, your commitment to make sure that its outreach to the Global South is one that respects and also acknowledges the church’s social teaching and its moral position.
I want to acknowledge your initiative of the “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”. Despite what some might see as just a spiritual exercise, it has galvanized many parishes throughout Canada, and become a focal point among them on how to be vigilant with respect to palliative care and respect for those who are dying.
My greatest acknowledgement is to what you passed this morning, your strategic planning. There were many conversations; I was involved in some of them, and I hope that I was encouraging for you. I think what you have accomplished, even though it’s on paper, will become a part of the future of the League. You need to be commended, by us the bishops, for taking the “bull by the horns” and recognizing that you need change from within. This is an example of a new evangelization, finding new ways, new methods to proclaim the gospel as a lay association of Catholic women in Canada.
Many references have been made to the “feminine genius”. I would like to coin a new phrase. There is what’s called the “CWL genius”! I think that after five years, it has slowly been absorbed into my DNA. For that, I also offer you my thanks.
Bishop Murray Chatlain (Keewatin-The-Pas) coined the phrase in his reflection yesterday, “that in transformative experiences, such as truth and reconciliation, the place of tension must be seen as a sacred place.” What I offer you and the spiritual advisors is that the implementation of your strategic plan, especially in the area of spiritual development, is some of the organizational initiatives for renewal. You might find yourselves in tension, but I ask you to be reminded of Bishop Chatlain’s words, that maybe this is a sacred place and that this is where God’s grace can be found in the life of the League.
I want to thank the three presidents who I have worked with, Betty Ann Brown Davidson, Barbara Dowding and Margaret Ann Jacobs. To the League administration, to Kim Scammell, to all who work at the League executive, I would like to thank you for your patience, persistence and support in my role.
In closing, I transfer the “baton” to Bishop Stephen Jensen (Prince George) and wish him well on the journey.
National President Margaret Ann Jacobs
It is with a sense of pride that I share with you some of the activities undertaken over the past year.
I was delighted to attend the 97th annual convention of the National Council of Catholic Women in Houston, Texas, where over 500 women gathered to share the activities of their three commissions spirituality, leadership and service.
As an observer, I attended the plenary meeting of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), where hierarchy from across Canada met. The ecumenical evening service commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, co-presided by Archbishop Richard Gagnon (Winnipeg) and Rev. Susan Johnson (national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada) was a moving testimony of collaboration in this Canadian dialogue. This year, attendees travelled to Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa for a solemn mass celebrating the Feast of Saints Jean de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues, followed by the Consecration of Canada to the Blessed Virgin Mary on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of confederation and highlighting the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace/Caritas Canada. How amazing it was to join with over 1,000 people, hierarchy, ecumenical guests and observers, all united in solemn prayer.
In October, I joined over 30 lay associations at Manoir D’Youville, Chateauguay, Quebec at the forum “Co-workers in the Vineyard”. The tone of the gathering was established by a reflection by Bishop Marc Pelchat (Quebec) on our call to be missionary disciples, refocusing our vision as lay people involved in the transformation of the world. Presentations by three different panels (lay formation in the church, poverty in Canada and abroad, and evangelization and social media) offered phenomenal opportunities to share and learn about many other Catholic lay organizations. I was proud to present on the panel on leadership.
A visit to St. Alexander Parish in Sagkeeng First Nation was arranged by Catholic Missions In Canada and offered an opportunity to celebrate Eucharist and enjoy a feast and fellowship with the chief, several parishioners and pastor Fr. Augustine Ezediniru. The national executive was gifted with a beautiful quilt [on display in the convention hall].
It is such a privilege to represent national council at special anniversaries and dinners – St. John Vianney, St. Margaret, St. Timothy, St. James, St. Patrick, St. Joseph, Martyr’s Shrine, Ordinandi, and Catholic Missions In Canada appreciation and celebratory dinners. Development days are always a little more challenging but always fruitful. I was blessed to be able to attend the taping of the Vision TV masses at Loretto Abbey to commemorate Our Lady of Good Counsel Feast Day and “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”.
On March 21st, I joined representatives from Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in meeting with the minister of employment, workforce development and labour regarding the Canada Summer Jobs program. Regardless of the persistent requests to have the problematic attestation amended or removed, no accommodation was provided. Although the minister did indicate that changes will be made to the 2019 application, grave concerns remain that the reproductive rights criteria will be included, impugning our freedom of religious and conscience rights.
With the delegation to government, I attended meetings with the parliamentary secretaries for the justice department and the status of women, as well as members of the opposition. While in Ottawa, the delegation also met with representatives for the CCCB, Catholic Organization for Life and Family and the apostolic nuncio. Attending the premier viewing of Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death, the pro-life vigil, the celebration of the Eucharist at Notre Dame Cathedral and the pro-life gathering on Parliament Hill for the March for Life were noteworthy events as well.
To be present at diocesan and provincial conventions was totally awesome! From Fort Saskatchewan to London, Ottawa, Yorkton, Charlottetown, St. Catharines, Guelph, Cornwall, Okotoks, Winnipeg, New Glasgow, Whitehorse, and Toronto – WOW! It was truly humbling to experience the League in action at the grassroots! The rich prayer services enveloping the amazing projects undertaken on behalf of those in need are beyond expression, they’re beyond comprehension. Thank you for embracing the theme. You are truly women inspired by the Spirit and definitely responding to God’s call in your efforts to promote palliative care, support mental health initiatives, and reach out to the homeless, and victims of trafficking and pornography. Just to be part of such a phenomenal organization of faith, dedicated to advocacy and social justice, makes my role as president miniscule.
It has been a privilege to participate on the team pursuing an envisioned future for the League as we plan strategically. Passion, dedication and insight are the hallmarks of the visionary League members with whom I’ve worked as we forge a path for the future of the League. Conference calls, meetings, presentations and workshops have consumed many hours of activity over the last year. May the Spirit continue to inspire and guide our efforts.
As I look to the future, I ponder the words of Dan Schutte’s hymn, “The seeds were sown by other hands than yours; nurtured and cared for they grew. But those who have sown will not harvest them; the reaping will not be their care… The harvest is plenty, labourers are few, come with me into the fields.”
It has been a privilege and an honour to represent you as national president. I pray that I have planted a few seeds, and I hope that I have nurtured those entrusted to my care. Thank you for the faith and trust that you placed in me and for inviting me to come with you into the fields of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada.
National President-Elect and Chairperson of Organization Anne-Marie Gorman
Imagine if more than 80,000 members of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada ceased praying for, witnessing, attending, physically doing for their parishes and communities! What a change there would be in the church, Canada and the world.
Because you chose to be members of this very large Catholic women’s organization, and have committed to your self-development through prayer and service, this is not apt to occur. Why? Because you love your Catholic faith, because you love your parish communities, and because you love your country and your earthly home, you will do your best to uphold the Objects of the League.
And how did you keep motivated this past year? You went into the deep when you were weary and frightened, with companions for support and encouragement. You used the resources that your predecessors had the vision to establish. Yes, this is the organization all of us love and will continue to make as viable and vibrant as possible. Yes, it’s a different time; yes, it’s a challenging time; but, if we have the faith of that biblical mustard seed, we will move this very large ship which is the League where the Holy Spirit inspires us to go.
How did you listen to God’s voice? You said “yes” to being a member, “yes” to taking leadership roles, “yes” to taking more responsibility, and “yes”, to becoming a life member. How did you learn? You used some of the $24,600 from the national development fund to educate and support members. You read the Constitution & Bylaws, the National Manual of Policy and Procedure and the Executive Handbook. You listened to presenters on issues like mental health and homelessness that continue to prevent our brothers and sisters from living full lives. Yes, you did all these things and did them quietly, taking responsibility as women of faith.
Today, we have added ten life members to the roll. These women – Ruth Bode, Marjorie d’Entrement, Mary Dobbelsteyn, Joanne Hough, Joyce LeBlanc, Judy Look, Lynn Olenik, Genevieve Sexton, Stephanie Spinelli, Sharon St. Jean – begin a new chapter as they work with their respective members, and mentor future leaders.
We continue to stand on the shoulders of our courageous foremothers, inspired by the Spirit. Presently, we are in a blessed place as we move into a new phase of the process for planning for our future. Since we needed to know the “why” before the “what”, we spent the last year getting that right and compiling it into the publication each of you will receive during the convention. Now that the “what” has been established, the “how” will unfold in the next five years, which will require committed assistance. The work to date could not have happened without your discernment and your faithful input.
The 2018-2022 strategic plan publication includes, from Proverbs 27:23, practical but inspiring words we may use to focus the League for years to come. “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds”. Be not afraid.
National First Vice-President and Chairperson of Education and Health Fran Lucas
Mental health was identified as a national focus for all standing committees in fall 2017. Sub-committee chairperson and Life Member Becky Kallal led the way with resources on the subject for all age groups. Once again, Resolution 2015.01 Increased Early Access and Intervention to Children and Youth Mental Health Services was actioned through the use of the postcard made available on the website. The “Right by You” campaign supported the above resolution with a wide variety of valuable resources. Please continue to advocate through all avenues for the availability of access to youth suicide prevention initiatives, and support and treatment for youth dealing with mental health illness challenges.
Did you know that age restrictions to donate blood were lifted in 2004? Councils can join the “Partners for Life” program with Canadian Blood Services. Manitoba Provincial Council has done so since 2010.
“12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” was revamped and once again embraced by councils.
The International End-of-Life Doula Association offers training to be an end-of-life doula. This training helps with individual personal growth on issues of death and dying and supports and guides friends and family when they face death.
Catholic education continues to be weakened or eliminated. Its importance was once again solidified for me when my 6-year-old grandson proudly recited the Our Father and Hail Mary, having learned them attending his Catholic school with reinforcement at home.
It was disturbing to read in the Prairie Messenger that two out of five Canadian adults, nearly nine million people, are unable to read well enough to perform daily tasks.
Sub-committee chairperson and Life Member Gabriele Kalincak collected information for a document on girls’ identity being presented by Honorary Life Member Velma Harasen to the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations. This information will be used in celebrating International Day of the Girl on October 11th.
The environment continues to be pummeled with so many abuses. Having many large chain restaurants as well as small ones banning the use of plastic straws is a great step in the right direction. Unfortunately, I still see councils using Styrofoam®. We can go back to 1990 and right up to now and see resolutions tied to the environment that still can be worked on. At the G7 Summit in Quebec, the prime minister agreed to a plastics charter to deal with waste created by single use plastics like bottles, cups and bags. Let’s do our part!
Resolution 2015.03 Banning the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides is seeing some positive action. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency will be recommending that one of the three most damaging neonics be banned right now, with another in 2021.
Sub-committee chairperson Rita Janes was diligent in recommending items for the website related to the environment.
The national bursary committee was pleased to give funding to nine of the 13 submissions received. Once again, only $3,000 was available to be shared by these nine members. The amounts paid out ranged from $150.00 to $900.00 per recipient. Thank you to the 17 parish councils that donated a total of $1,610 to the bursary fund. At the pre-convention national executive meeting, the executive approved these funds being added to next year’s interest dollars to allow for larger amounts to the recipients. All councils are asked to donate any amount they can to this much needed and appreciated funding.
The Coady International Institute has brochures describing in great detail the value of League members’ contributions to this national voluntary fund. This past year six women benefited from scholarships made possible because of the League’s donation of $27,719.82. National President-Elect Anne-Marie Gorman accepted the Lifetime Xaverian Award from Coady for the League’s continued support since 1961.
Having had the opportunity to deliver the planning strategically sessions at several conventions led me to the definite conclusion that members are ready for change! I look forward to the upcoming process for that to happen.
National Second Vice-President and Chairperson of Communications Shari Guinta
The following quote from the Holy Father expresses our lifestyle today in technology, I feel “It is said that we are ‘children of information and orphans of communication’” (A Year with Pope Francis, Daily Reflections from His Writings).
The communications standing committee is an interesting one with several categories relevant to the League and present day.
The Canadian League Magazine
It was encouraging to learn from provincial reports that members read and enjoyed the The Canadian League and it was used as a constant resource. The magazine continues to be important to parish councils and members across the country. I received positive, appreciative comments from across Canada regarding the well written and diverse articles in the magazine.
All provincial councils reported that some members had viewed the 2017 convention online speakers and participated in the survey for strategic planning. This was something new for the League and can be an important and useful tool.
It was encouraging to hear that the media is used to publicize the League and functions that councils planned. Local newspapers, church bulletins and websites were used for distribution of information. Salt and Light TV and Vision TV, as well as Catholic newspapers, were viewed and used. There are Salt and Light TV promotional videos as well that can be utilized.
Newsletters, Bulletins and League Websites
There is a definite increase in the use of Facebook, websites and newsletters. As we move deeper into such a digitally technological age, councils and members are using the tools at hand and developing their own websites. I was surprised to see though that every provincial council reporting said that parish councils still use telephone trees. The personal touch is still a good way to communicate!
After taking an online media course last year and becoming more aware of website design and the surge of technology, I focused more clearly on the national website. I asked for opinions from executive members and often got feedback from members across the country. I gathered the feedback, studied several websites and collected information to see if the website could be improved.
We had to look at the visual, the practical, the functionality and the navigation of the website. Through a website design company in Ontario, I asked that it look at the League’s, analyze the website and quote on a revision.
After receiving the green light from the executive and working with the design company and Natalia at national office, a new look and function was achieved. It should now be easier to navigate and be more user friendly, particularly on different devices such as iPad and handheld devices.
Councils do invite the media to their events and some have reported a good rapport with the local media. All provincial councils mentioned the disapproval of the Global Television series “Mary Kills People” and had voiced their concern in letters and e-mails to the Global network, as well as in letters to the editor in local newspapers.
Councils reported investigating and watching articles and documentaries on the pornography issue, including the documentary Over 18 and having information sessions on the harmful effects of pornography. The Pornography Hurts postcard campaign is still popular and councils chose a month to send the postcards to government. There were also petitions. I focused on this issue in several of my communiqués, invited guest journalistic pieces in The Canadian League and encouraged councils to have information sessions and guest speakers on the harmful effects of pornography, especially on young people. Pornography is permeated into various aspects of many lives and has a direct connection to human trafficking.
So, to summarize, going forward:
• Livestreaming might be utilized in aspects of communication and awareness.
• The Canadian League is an important tool for members and is popular and utilized.
• Members and councils are becoming more “tech savvy” and will respond to various technology initiatives.
• Councils respond to news alerts and requests for action, but connecting with and contacting members is not always easy or timely. Perhaps technology can be utilized more for these efforts.
• The national website will be up and running with the 2018 revamp.
• The pornography issue is gaining momentum within councils. This issue, although an older one, is every bit as prevalent today as it was several years ago. With the focus on the Internet, pornography has become a phenomenon.
• Councils do not subscribe necessarily to publications but many members do and they read them, viewed them and used them.
National Secretary-Treasurer Janet McLean
Transcribing the minutes of the national convention and three executive meetings, performing other secretarial functions, preparing deposits, writing cheques, completing monthly bank reconciliations and financial statements, as well as other duties required by a secretary-treasurer of a national organization are time-consuming tasks. Fortunately, we have a very efficient permanent national office staff who take care of these routine matters on my behalf, and I would like to thank them for the hard work they have done during my two-year term as national secretary-treasurer. My duties include verifying and amending, if necessary, the minutes before they are circulated and studying the monthly deposits, cheques, bank statements and other financial papers for an in-depth review of all transactions of the year. At year end, I receive from auditors Scarrow & Donald, their working papers. At any time, when I have questions or require additional documents, the necessary information or backup is provided by national office staff. I approved the League’s financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2017, before they were submitted to the national executive, and they were approved by the board at the mid-term meeting in February 2018. The 2017 financial statements, and my comments on them, were included in the convention booklet beginning on page 28.
The League’s excess cash is invested in socially responsible investment funds. Approximately 50% is held in fixed investments with the other 50% invested in mutual funds. At June 30th, investments were worth approximately $2,000,000, down $339,000 from June 30, 2017. Draws from investments were made to cover the 2017 operating deficit, payments on new enterprise software and to cover the cash shortfall in the first two months of 2018 when membership payments could not be processed.
The interim financial statements as of June 30, 2018 show net revenue from operations of $285,079. However, at December 31, 2018 we are estimating that the League will have a net loss from operations of $240,600. This is explained by the fact that at June 30th most of the revenue had been received but less than half of the annual expenses had been incurred. The figure of $240,600 is slightly under the budgeted net loss from operations of $250,500. Revenue from per capita fees is estimated to be $36,900 under budget [based on December 31st figures]. Most expenditures are estimated to be either on or under budget. Expenditures for the national executive are estimated to be $26,400 under budget. Two expenditures do require an explanation. The first is office equipment, estimated at $119,400 at year end, $42,900 over budget. The other is staff, which is estimated to be $15,300 over budget. Both these higher-than-budgeted expenditures are due to costs relating to new software for the League.
Normally, the loss from operations is partially offset by net investment income. The League’s investments are recorded at the lower of cost or market value and, unfortunately, the market has had some difficult days in the last year so there are unrealized losses on investments. This will have the effect of reducing net investment income at December 31st to an estimated amount of $9,200 rather than the $106,700 budgeted. Because of this, an estimated net loss for 2018 of $231,400 is projected. However, as mentioned in my annual report, the League is a not-for-profit organization so that net income years must necessarily be offset by planned negative years, as long as the losses are not unnecessarily wasteful.
The national executive is working to present a balanced budget in the future and I am sure the new executive will work toward this for the coming two years. Because one of the major expenditures of the League each year is the annual national convention, I addressed this at the fall national executive meeting last year. My article in the winter edition of The Canadian League notified members that the registration fee for national convention will increase in 2019 to $100.00. This is the first increase in the registration fee for 12 years and will cover approximately 25% of the cost of the convention, compared to only 16% which is now covered. Another point that I would like to mention is that the national treasury pays for the registration fees for the national executive, life members, honorary life members, bishops and speakers. I hope the increase in the convention registration fee will not adversely affect attendance next year in Calgary. Start saving $1.00 a week now and you will have the extra $50.00 required for next year.
I have been working on changing both the Handbook for Secretaries and Guidelines for Treasurers during my term and these suggested changes have been sent to national office. Further revisions will be required as the League moves forward into its second century.
I would like to thank all members for the trust shown me during the last two years. It has been an enriching experience working with the executive and staff as we look to the League’s future, inspired by the Spirit.
National Past President and Chairperson of Laws Barbara Dowding
“Let your heart take courage, hope in the Lord!” (Psalm 24)
For years now, travelling the country, I have seen, and personally experienced what most of you already know. And that is the passion, love and pride of our League sisters (and others!) for this jewel we affectionately call the League.
I met women in the tiniest councils, few in number, some even great in age, but big in heart who embrace initiatives like “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care” or raise money for League projects. They would die rather than see their council fold.
I saw dynamic councils that are thriving, complete with actual elections, having all offices filled and women aspiring to leadership. And of course, everything else from one extreme to the other.
It was during this time that we began realize the “signs of the times” were catching up to, and having negative impact, on the League, as membership declined and continues to do so. It was an alarming trend and something had to be done! It was time to stop wringing our hands and lamenting our fate. It was time to take steps and to control our own destiny. So here we are, at this point in time on the brink of something special. The League is prepared to take bold and courageous steps to ensure its legacy continues, but will change and adapt. I lost count of how many times I heard the word hope over these last days! We have the fervour, dedication and heartfelt desire to take us where we need to go. The League of the future is more than just numbers. It is about women of faith sharing their gifts! Perhaps in ways as yet unheard of.
We have all seen and heard, and most would testify to at least one story of care, mentorship or solidarity from a League sister. We should write a book of these profound testimonies and it would surely become a best seller! We have all seen how the simplest affirmation can make a huge difference and can tell stories of how we have seen each other grow and flourish when supported and encouraged.
Nothing can replace the human touch, the hug or the mere presence of another person. As Bishop William McGrattan (Calgary) said, and I paraphrase, to bow in the presence of another. I pray, as the future unfolds, that personal encounters and helping women become the best they can be remain a priority. This is who we are and how we are known. This is how we love one another.
No one leads alone or in a vacuum. I thank God with all my heart for having surrounded me with the best people. I am privileged to be part of a team that was collaborative, unified and strong, a team that stuck together through thick and thin. I have been abundantly blessed.
I am so proud to be one of the presidents three, to serve and now to finish the race, and pass the baton. So now, with the end in sight, I do so happily and with great confidence in the new team. As this group prepares to forge new paths, open new doors and blaze new trails, may it continue to be prophetic, bold and successful! Building our future on faith, offering service as needed and promoting peace through justice is a strong foundation indeed.
Guided by the Spirit, as we become the League of the future, we will need to be patient and trust the process. As I have said many times before, turning a huge ocean liner takes time and careful precision. The League is that ship, its change cannot be rushed!
Just like the amazing sound of our voices raised in song, powerful and strong, we need to remember what voices can do when united in one purpose and vision.
I have fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. I pledge my undying support, unflagging zeal and everlasting affection for The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, and I urge all of you here present to do the same. And so in conclusion I pray:
I thank my God
each time I think of you!
And when I pray for you,
I pray with joy.
Padre Diego, based on Phillipians 1:3
Executive Director Kim Scammell
The physical office is like a circuit board for the League. The circuit board provides the mount for the CPU or central processing unit, and all other hardware components, such as sound or video cards. The staff in the office is like the circuitry, the wiring between the units.
The board of directors, or national executive sitting at this table, is the central processing unit. The parish councils are the other components, be they sound cards or other hardware. Without the other components, the central processing unit simply cannot operate.
The CPU speaks to other hardware via the circuitry. Today I want to describe the League’s circuity, or staff, to you. Most of you know me and know that I am the gateway from the central processing unit to the circuitry. This is my primary duty – to make the connections available so that actions can happen.
Diane Haven’s “circuit” is to route manual membership from the components. Larry Peter’s “circuit” is to route orders to the components. Valroy Anderson’s “circuit” is to receive money from the components and make it available to the central processing unit for the purpose of achieving goals. Amanda McCormick’s “circuit” is to route online membership from the components, and to provide the circuitry between the CPU and convention committees.
Ingrid Taylor’s “circuit” is the opposite of mine. Where I provide the one-way direction from the CPU, she provides the one-way in the opposite direction, from the components to the CPU, because signals must go both ways. Natalia Bilynskyy is the “circuit” between the CPU and the monitor, leaving a visual picture of the CPU in action.
Most of the time the circuity works seamlessly for the benefit of all units attached to the circuit board because of the quality of the materials used to make the circuits. Sometimes, though, a circuit wears out and needs to be replaced. And sometimes, the quality of the replaced circuit is not up to standard, causing misfires. If even one circuit goes down, there’s trouble.
We were in this situation earlier this year. And it wasn’t just a misfire, it was an entire shutdown. We were not able to function. It has taken months, but it has been fixed. The back office membership system, ordering and deposit system, and convention registration system have been reestablished. As of today, the online membership system has also been reestablished. Finally, the components can properly connect with the CPU.
All staff or “circuits” are here this week. Please do seek us out and introduce yourself. Relationships grow when we meet. Look around, see if you can find the staff, introduce yourself, and take a moment to get to know them. This opportunity comes around only once a decade.
I would be remiss if I did not mention one more person. I am saddened to announce that today is Diane Kelln’s last day, after 10 years with the League. She began at a convention in Winnipeg and is ending at a convention in Winnipeg. We wish her well in her retirement and are grateful for everything she did for us, and for the kind and gentle person she is. Thank you, Diane. May the blessing of the Lord be upon you.
National Chairperson of Spiritual Development Jacqueline Nogier
The face of Canada is a face of diversity. We are a country made up of immigrants. A country of people who joined the many Indigenous nations on turtle island and have made it our home. Our country is blessed with this diversity. Canada is a country that welcomes people from all walks of life. There is no single “face” of Canada. We hold every faith and cultural background within our borders. It is our differences that make us a strong country.
The Catholic church in Canada is also the face of diversity, and because of that we are strong. We must constantly remember that the League has that strength of diversity as well. Our diversity has the strength of our common link, our faith. As on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and they could understand many different languages, we too must listen to all those around us and continue to make our church and our League truly universal and diverse.
Secular society pushes women to strive for equality without giving weight to the fact that God created both woman and man. Secular society pushes women and girls to strive to be the same as men. It is important as Catholic women to remember that we don’t need to be the same as men but to trust that God wants us to be equal but different. Pope John Paul II first used the term “feminine genius” in 1988 and we have been striving towards fully understanding what that means ever since.
There are many roles that women play in the church that are unique to women. First and foremost is the ability of women to be mothers, both the ability of physical motherhood but also spiritual motherhood. We all have the ability to nurture and heal and to become sanctuaries of peace, not only because of what we are doing in the church and in society, but because we have the love of God and are able to radiate that love to those around us.
The League is an organization of action. We are constantly striving to show God’s love to the world. We use our feminine genius by starting with prayer and the love of our God, and then moving to inject that love into the world through our actions.
Catholic Missions In Canada is one of the ways that we act to show the love of God in our country. For the period of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 donations from individuals and councils totaling $37,039.38 were collected. By supporting this organization’s good works, you allow the Catholic church to continue to be a presence in many remote communities. Thank you for reaching out and living your faith through action in mission assistance.
One resolution received this year has been recommended by the national executive to be forwarded to the national chairperson of spiritual development for action. BC01 Blessed Be Jesus’ Most Holy Name is directed to members. So, it was felt that this avenue would serve to encourage all members across Canada to nurture and advocate in our families and society the Holy Name of Jesus.
May we as Catholic women continue to welcome and love the diversity of our country and church. May we embrace our feminine genius and continue to nurture, heal and become sanctuaries of peace for those around us.
National Chairperson of Christian Family Life Doreen Gowans
Abortions, euthanasia and reproductive rights are only a few challenges we as Catholic women face today as we fight for the sanctity of life.
Archbishop Michael Miller (Vancouver) stated, “If the elderly, sick and suffering in our population feel that euthanasia is their best option, it means we as a society and as individuals are letting them down”.
I had the privilege of journeying with my dear mother. Her death was spiritual, beautiful and the angels came as we were reciting the rosary. As we search for various ways to fight euthanasia in hospitals, care homes, and our individual homes, I believe we as Catholic women need to share our faith stories. We need to tell others that dying can be a beautiful spiritual journey for the dying person, family, friends and health care professionals.
The Dying Healed ProgramTM, sponsored by LifeCanada, is a volunteer training program that works to foster a deep and lasting awareness of the meaning and dignity of each human life and of human suffering, especially at the end of life when the person is preparing for his/her final moments on earth. For more information go to the website lifecollective.io.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director for Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), attended convention in the exhibit room. This past year members and councils increased donations by $4,000 to $19,702.52 to EPC. Great work ladies! Alex has the new DVD entitled Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death which asks the question, “Should we be giving medical professionals the legal right to end the life of another human being”? Purchase the DVD and share it with your family and parishioners. Bracelets with the words “Don’t Kill Me, I Oppose Euthanasia” may be ordered online.
Denise Mountenay from Together for Life Ministries is following God’s plan as she travels the world on her own dime, educating young girls and women regarding the horrific impact of legal abortion and how it is hurting women, men, families and nations. She has spoken at the United Nations to the ambassadors at the Commission on the Status of Women and the Commission on Population and Development in New York and Geneva, at various universities throughout the world, high schools, churches and prisons. Her new book The Bride, The Serpent & The Seed and her DVD HUSH, a liberating conversation about abortion and women’s health, are available.
Petition for One Million 2019, a petition initiated by Alliance for Life Ontario, expresses concerns on the effects of abortion. It wants to reach one million signatures by the end of 2018, and then the petition will be presented to the federal government. If you have signed it, thank you, and if not please consider downloading a copy for you and your council to sign and submit.
The work of the Christian family life standing committee is never done. It requires everyone to take action. We are God’s hands and feet on earth and we need to continue to work, as we are inspired by the Spirit to respond to God’s call.
National Chairperson of Community Life Betty Colaneri
I began my community life journey walking with thousands of sisters across Canada on a path that took us in so many directions. At first, it appeared to be straight. Then we began to encounter unexpected twists and bends in the road. It reminded me of the beginning of a Charles Dickens novel, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Where technology helped spread the word about important issues like homelessness, it also helped increase problems like human trafficking. But discouragement is not a gift of the Holy Spirit. Members rose to the occasion with feet firmly planted in readiness. Inspired by the Spirit, they answered God’s call and walked with their sisters and brothers in their parishes, communities, country and countries abroad. When members encountered road blocks, they simply made a detour or retraced their steps for an opportunity to look at things in a completely different way. Graced with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they received the strength to get to know the path, face any adversity and actually walk in someone else’s shoes.
Now as I gaze back at all the millions of footsteps, it gives me such hope, as each one symbolizes a unique step towards making a change.
Sisters in the League walked in compassion with those suffering from poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, human trafficking, incarceration, racism and bullying. The high heeled print was the Red Shoe Project for the elimination of violence against women. Members mended shoes of those in need by selflessly giving of their time, talent and financial donations to community organizations, food banks, hospitals, shut-ins and long-term care facilities.
The shoes changed to moccasins in support of the Moccasin Project impacting Indigenous children. They joined the cry with the Red Shawl and Red Dress Campaign for missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Resolutions became the pebble in our shoes that we diligently addressed with action plans. Members stepped up by writing letters to their local government officials and held government accountable. After all, “if the shoe fits”.
Our sisters rose to their feet and stood for social and economic justice for all God’s people. They gained insight into the needs of immigrants and refugees in their communities by sponsoring families and giving financial assistance.
In solidarity with our sisters in the Global South, members removed their shoes and walked with them in prayer, awareness and with monetary donations. Through the generosity of members, the national voluntary fund will be giving, $63,220.98 to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, which is presently being withheld, and $16,097.85 to Catholic Near East Welfare Association of Canada.
We have been chosen, inspired and answered the call. All those footprints will be forever imprinted on our hearts and the hearts of those whose lives we touched by helping to inspire their hopes, dreams and dignity.
Look down at our shoes worn out by a journey of service for action, advocacy and change. Jesus, the prince of peace will wash the dust of the world from our feet and place glass shoes on them to remind us that with Him all things are possible.
The next time you put on a pair of shoes, be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz for a moment. Click your heels, remember the power of the spirit you have within and ask yourself, who will you be walking with today?
National Chairperson of Resolutions Joan Bona
Formulating resolutions and going through the process is not a simple formula. The process carries the work from fruition at the parish level, diocesan and ultimately national level for awareness and decision-making. Creativity and sharing of insights on the part of many members from across Canada, in response to a resolution or resolutions, allows members to become aware and follow through on a resolution’s action plan.
Securing meetings with federal representatives was challenging in 2017. The office received a number of responses of unavailability or an unwillingness to meet from senior ministers. A second request to meet in May was initiated by national office in March 2018. So began the resolve to meet regarding the 2017 resolutions with policy advisors, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of status of women, and the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. The office had initially secured a meeting with the leader of the opposition however, the well-organized plans were later dashed with a change in schedule. The office was able to secure a meeting with a member of parliament and a host of advisors who had done much preparatory work in terms of the 2017 resolutions. The visit in May coincided with the March for Life and the League delegation was happy to join some League sisters on Parliament Hill. This was an amazing opportunity to attend other events.
Members aspire to create change, awareness and fairness through resolutions. While visits to the federal government reinforced resolutions, I would encourage members to continue to work with their local member of parliament. Remember you are the voice of the living God, as 2019 is a federal election year and there will be many issues that will be fresh and active. While governments may be influenced by political factors, members can respond by continuing to monitor governments’ effectiveness on resolutions. Even where there is disagreement, members can always build, aspire and inspire effective change through monitoring and letter writing.
I want to impress upon members the importance of monitoring. Monitoring means to observe or check upon the progress. This is important work for any resolution. Last year national council adopted a resolution on age verification mechanisms. This was a challenge in that the federal government did not really have a mechanism for advocacy or direction in this realm. Eureka! On June 18, 2018, the government invited Canadians to have their say and participate in the digital and data consultations.
Another important aspect is letter writing, as expressed by one of the members of legislative assembly at the convention’s opening ceremony. League resources are so important, including the letter writing guide. When you write, expect a response and insist on it!
This year, a number of resolutions will be archived. These resolutions reflect the vision of members at a specific time in League history.
As we continue to witness to resolutions with integrity and prayer, let us all remember that we are messengers and bear witness to the work and creativity of members throughout Canada. Let’s follow through and uphold the important work of the feminine genius of members.
National Chairperson of Legislation Nancy Simms
I have a confession to make. Before being appointed to the national legislation standing committee I never had an interest in holding this position. And, from what I have read in provincial reports, I don’t think I am much different than most members. There seems to be a misunderstanding about legislation. I can definitely tell you there isn’t a mad rush of ladies vying for the position.
But, I stand before you today with a joyous heart for all that can be accomplished through the legislation standing committee. It is truly an exciting position! Here is just a sampling of legislation in action in this past year:
• Two resolutions were adopted at the 2017 national convention under this standing committee. Both were discussed with federal government officials when the delegation met in May. Constructive ideas were shared on how to create positive changes regarding both Resolution 2017.03 Zero-Rated Status Under the Goods and Services Tax Provisions of the Excise Tax Act for Child Safety Products and Resolution 2017.04 Protection from Coercion of Conscience for Healthcare Professionals.
• 32,775 signatures from the petition requesting the federal government specifically identify hospice/palliative care as a defined medical service covered under the Canada Health Act, was presented in the House of Commons. You can view the video of this presentation on the national website. And now, Bill C-277 An Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada has received royal assent in the House. The federal government has also held public consultations on supporting improved access to palliative care, of which the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has made a submission.
• Hundreds and possibly thousands of letters, e-mails, phone calls and personal visits were made throughout the country to politicians encouraging them to take action on numerous bills, both federally and provincially.
The Executive Handbook tells us that, “Legislation is social justice in action. It is the carrying out of League resolutions to influence government policy”. I would like to add, that the legislation standing committee brings knowledge. Knowledge of what is or is not being addressed by government. Through this knowledge, members have a responsibility to raise their voices, to be a strong Christian voice in the midst of great confusion in Canada.
Legislation is exciting and extremely important. Yet, we must also remember that we are in some exciting times within the history of the League and will be seeing some exhilarating changes in the future. Keeping that in mind, I pray that we will always be vigilant regarding the policies of our country and retain a means to our knowledge of legislation. We must continue to raise our voices in unity “For God and Canada”.
Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
Alberta Mackenzie Provincial President June Fuller
Alberta Mackenzie Provincial Council applauds the 9,046 members in 163 parish councils across five dioceses for their commitment and dedicated work throughout the past year.
We continue to focus on issues affecting society. The provincial executive chose to purchase 10 viewings of the Over 18 documentary as an action plan for Resolution 2017.02 Mandatory Age Verification Mechanisms for Adult Pornographic Websites that was adopted at last year’s national convention. Two viewings were given to each diocesan council to help educate and inform members on how easy it is for children to access pornographic websites. In addition, 20,000 redesigned postcards with this information were ordered and distributed for members to send to government. One diocesan council showed this video at its convention.
At all five diocesan conventions, members took part in the planning strategically workshops. Members were very willing to share their thoughts and ideas for changes, and many felt this was a very worthwhile endeavour. However, members did indicate that there is a rich history and going forward we must continue to build on the strengths of the League. Members appreciated having women from the national executive present these workshops.
At the 71st provincial convention, delegates passed a special motion to urge the provincial government to revisit Bill 9 the Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act, which censors public opinion on social and moral issues. We continue to speak out against medical assistance in dying and euthanasia, and instead support palliative care initiatives.
Members of the provincial executive met with members of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association and the Alberta/Northwest Territories Knights of Columbus to discuss working together to support publicly funded Catholic education and to share information in order to keep members informed of any changes that may threaten the Catholic school system.
This past year saw a slight decrease in the annual online reporting process, with approximately 55% of parish councils submitting their annual reports. We are optimistic that these numbers will improve as we get more familiar with online reporting.
It is always a pleasure to recognize members for their dedicated work and commitment to the League, and we were very pleased to have two members receive their life membership, Judy Look and Ruth Boden. At the Edmonton diocesan convention, Yvette Foster from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Council (Sherwood Park) received the Belle Guerin pin, and this year’s Elsie Yanik award recipient was Renee Spohn from Medicine Hat. Many members were recognized with pins and certificates for the many hours of work they do to serve their parishes. In addition, several councils celebrated special anniversaries with mass and a banquet.
The provincial convention was held in Okotoks on June 2nd and 3rd and we had the pleasure of having National President Margaret Ann Jacobs, National Spiritual Advisor Bishop William McGrattan (Calgary), and Fr. David Reilander from Catholic Missions In Canada as guest speakers. We also enjoyed the wonderful workshop that Judy Look presented entitled “Three Cups of Tea”. In addition, Makrina Morozowski, a member from Calgary diocese, gave a short presentation on the Canada C3 expedition that she participated in to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, as members helped fund this wonderful trip.
I was pleased to be invited as provincial president to meet with the Alberta bishops for a one-hour dialogue at their annual meeting in June. Judy Look and I attended this meeting, where we had a very good discussion with lots of information being shared by those in attendance. It also gave us an opportunity to meet the newly installed bishop for Mackenzie-Fort Smith, Bishop John Hansen. We hope that this will become a yearly event.
The five diocesan councils are unique in their work for the League, but the members demonstrate their faith, hope and charity as women inspired by the spirit who respond to God’s call.
B.C. & Yukon Provincial President Gisela Montague
It was in Whitehorse where it all began. Six years ago, I was elected to the provincial executive and in June I was installed as president of B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council, again in Whitehorse. There must be something in the air! Actually, in 2011 the World Health Organization ranked Whitehorse number one for the cleanest air in the world. It is a place many people have on their bucket list and this year we enjoyed the presence of National President Margaret Ann Jacobs at the provincial convention. Many members were inspired not only by her workshop and presentation, but also by her warm and welcoming personality. We were proud to celebrate with 105 attendees, including Bishop Héctor Vila (Whitehorse). Thirty members benefited from subsidies, 18 from the provincial grant from national, and 12 from provincial grants.
Past president Evelyn Rigby succeeded in commissioning a video of Mary Wagner, which was premiered at the convention. Other presenters included: Alex Schadenberg from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition; Maria Campos Mendez, an immigrant to Canada; former Vancouver Diocesan Council President Jenny Shaw, who travelled the Yukon territory with her sister; outgoing provincial spiritual advisor Fr. Edwin Kulling; incoming provincial spiritual advisor Fr. David John of the Nelson diocese; and Member of Legislative Assembly Geraldine Van Bibber (Porter Creek), a recipient of several prestigious awards.
Knowledge was further increased through the lively discussions surrounding six resolutions. One vacant position was filled after the election, and the dedicated new executive was installed using the ceremony prepared by Life Member Pat Deppiesse. The mass concluded with a lovely rose ceremony where the outgoing and incoming presidents were presented with a rose from each diocesan president.
Almost 800 members attended the five diocesan conventions and were educated on a variety of relevant topics such as mental health, online fraud and scams, euthanasia, assisted suicide, Rachel’s Vineyard, walking meditations, Sancta Maria House, Spirit of Reconciliation, Catholic Missions In Canada, Caring not Killing, updates from national’s strategic planning and a workshop called “Chocks Away”, which addressed the neglected action plans of resolutions and motions, resulting in many possible resolution topics for the future.
The Petition of One Million to protect life from conception was promoted at these conventions with hard copies handed out as further reminders.
All executive members were informed about Bill C-404 An Act to amend the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which if passed would decriminalize the selling of ova and semen.
Last year interviews took place with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to discuss policies and priorities affecting the enforcement of Bill C-36 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons’ Act. Letters received from RCMP chiefs in the province indicate that training courses for police are planned.
Provincial community life chairperson Sharon Ciebin and Vancouver Diocesan Council President-Elect Barbara Renaud were invited to make a presentation at a justice hearing on human trafficking in Vancouver. Now they are in communication nationwide with the bishops to share information.
In January, the provincial executive launched a redesigned website where one can find the spring newsletter with the title Speak Lord, I’m Listening. In February, a delegation met with two parties of the provincial government and six resolutions were presented.
We give thanks to outgoing provincial Life Member Liaison Barbara Jarvis and welcome Carol Penno as the new liaison.
I look ahead to another productive year with even more members collaborating in new initiatives by the Catholic Health Association of BC to improve palliative care.
Manitoba Provincial President Rolande Chernichan
I am honoured to report on behalf of Manitoba’s over 2,200 members! Most of this year has been focused on final preparations for this convention. Manitoba Provincial Council hosted its annual day of celebration in February, an event that connects and energizes League sisterhood through a spiritual program, speakers and leadership training. Members also proudly carried the pro-life banner and participated in the annual March for Life.
Winnipeg Diocesan Council, the first diocesan council in Manitoba, held its 97th annual convention, presided by Rose Anne Seymour at St. Michael Parish Council (Gimli). A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police spoke about the impact of the new marijuana drug legislation. Two resolutions were adopted, one directed provincially and the other federally.
With Archbishop Albert LeGatt (St. Boniface) in attendance, St. Boniface Diocesan Council’s convention was hosted by St. Bernadette Parish Council (Winnipeg) and presided by Mavis McLaren. Diocesan spiritual advisor Fr. Charles Fillion hosted a spiritual advisors’ meeting. Two members from Winnipeg Police Services spoke on drug awareness. Two resolutions directed to the League were adopted. Following elections, the new executive, led by Paulette Chase, was installed at the mass.
Keewatin-The Pas Diocesan Council convention was hosted by St. Ann Parish Council (Flin Flon). Guest speakers were from Catholic Missions In Canada and from NASHI, an organization supporting youth in Ukraine at risk of being trafficked. Prior to elections, president Lucille Rossington demonstrated the “many hats” worn by each member of her executive to show that serving on executive is doable, but that more on board would lighten the workload.
The provincial council celebrated its 70th anniversary and annual convention June 2nd and 3rd at Mary, Mother of the Church (Winnipeg). Archbishop LeGatt presided at the mass, concelebrated by six clergy that included all three diocesan spiritual advisors. The convention’s spiritual program focused on water, drawing on the encyclical Laudato Si, and linking the 2018 World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization’s theme to that of the “water carrier” guest speaker, who spoke about her Indigenous spirituality and rituals. Water samples gathered at diocesan conventions and those brought by provincial convention attendees, were collected and blessed, and were later returned to mother earth. The convention program included a presentation by Catholic Missions In Canada about charitable gift annuities and a workshop “Envisioning Our Future” by National President Margaret Ann Jacobs. Attendees brought hotel shampoo and soap products for missions, feminine hygiene products for homeless women, pop can tabs for wheelchairs and plastic bags for recycled products. A resolution about flushable products was adopted, and a “reveal” of the provincial website in its final stages of development was shown.
Several members served as honour guard for the solemn pontifical mass on July 15th, marking the 200th anniversary of the church in Western Canada. Members also responded to the call to serve in operating the volunteer centre during the Jubilation celebrations that same day.
A few days ago, members of the provincial executive met with the provincial government to present resolutions.
Parish councils are the “heartbeat of the League”. Councils are dedicated and engaged despite the challenges they face. They have participated in the leap of faith taken by the League through strategic planning. The words of member, Linda Seitz, says it all, “WE ARE!”
We look FORWARD, and are sometimes discouraged. The diverse ethnic makeup of parishes is not reflected in parish councils. Members are no longer young, mostly in their 70s and 80s. No new young women seem interested; we seem to be failing them.
We look BACKWARD to the “good old days”, where elections were hard fought, a president-elect and all chairperson positions were filled. We didn’t know of any homeless women. There were no computers. We were in the kitchen and we liked it.
But WE ARE, HERE AND NOW! And WE ARE awesome! I look at national council and I am humbled. We figured out those computers and they weren’t our first language! Our DNA memory still allows us to make great egg salad sandwiches! We are there for our parishes, their children, the elderly, the sick and the isolated. We pray, we sing, we clean, we grapple with social concerns and issues from around the world. WE ARE here today! WITH ENTHUSIASM! WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE!
Military Ordinariate Provincial President Tawnya Stringer
It is an honour and privilege to present my first oral report as president of Military Ordinariate Provincial Council. I am happy to report we have a full slate of officers for this term and were blessed with having to have a vote to fill some positions this year. Members continue to answer God’s call, inspired by the Spirit, in creative and thoughtful ways.
Lacking geographical boundaries, we do not have a provincial government with whom we can meet and present resolutions. Though we have councils in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, we have no voice with those provinces. That voiceless gap was filled this year when members from Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton under the direction of resolutions chairperson Frances Gaunt and Life Member Theresa Winchester, researched, wrote and gifted a resolution to Ontario Provincial Council (OPC) titled Income Security, a Roadmap for Change, which recommends an overhaul of the provincial disability support program. OPC accepted the gifted resolution and voted to present it to the provincial government when they meet with them in the fall. This is a great example of collaboration amongst provincial councils and sets an exciting precedent and groundwork for future resolutions.
Just like other provincial councils, the Military Ordinariate council struggles with members unwilling to take executive positions, and many base councils are recycling presidents and are having a hard time filling all positions. One endeavour that has benefited the provincial administrative team and base councils has been the Mickey Scott bursary, which pays for the registration of a first-time convention attendee for provincial convention, at whichever base across Canada that it may be held. The bursary was created 22 years ago with an initial donation from Life Member Terri Scott. Terri’s husband Mickey had passed away during her term of office and in compliance with the eligibility criteria at the time, she would no longer be able to hold a position on the provincial council. Terri was inspired by the Spirit to donate money towards a bursary that would help members experience the blessings of the League, as they attend conventions. The awards committee named it in honour of Mickey who was influential in Terri’s willingness to serve. The fund continues to be replenished as a provincial voluntary fund. At this year’s convention, held at CFB Kingston, 14 “Mickey Scott” members were in attendance. The provincial administrative team has four Mickey Scott recipients presently serving, of which I am one. Twenty years ago, I attended my first provincial convention as the Mickey Scott recipient. We continue to be blessed by the bursary and to share the gifts that we have received as a result.
The 13 base councils continue to support the Canadian Armed Forces members and their families. We are integral to our base chapel life, as a consistent presence in what are often transient communities. In closing, I would like thank you for all you do in your communities to support the Canadian military. Please continue to keep those deployed, at home and abroad, their families and loved ones, in your prayers.
New Brunswick Provincial President Hazel Robichaud
Today I bring greetings from New Brunswick Provincial Council. My name is Hazel Robichaud and this is my first oral report as the president.
The provincial convention was held in Dalhousie, with 33 of 43 parish councils represented. What a terrific turnout! There is a membership of 1,864 members that includes 25 life members. Three members received life membership this year: Mary Dobbelsteyn, Fredericton; Marjorie d’Entremont, Bathurst; and Joyce LeBlanc, Moncton. A Belle Guerin award pin was given to one member who worked tirelessly for the League over the years but was unable to attend the convention. The late Rosemarie Pellerin has died since the pin was presented at her home after convention.
As diocesan councils were disbanded in 2017, we proudly presented three of the four diocesan presidents with their past president diocesan pin: Fran Hickmott, Saint John; Louise Ongo, Moncton; and Betty Bouma, Bathurst. Jacqueline Waye, Edmundston, was unable to attend.
This was the first convention without diocesan level and the executive meetings took on a whole new look. There were 33 of 37 parish council presidents at the first meeting with the table officers. The guest speaker at the convention was Quebec Past Provincial President Ingrid Lefort, who led us on a workshop of the national strategic planning. She did an excellent job and it was well received by the members, giving us a better understanding of this project.
We took up a special collection at the provincial convention and raised $741.00, which was rounded off to $750.00, for the Sparks, Brownies and Girl Guides organization in Dalhousie.
The provincial council now has two regions, with a chairperson for each region. The first meeting of each region will take place in October.
I look forward to working with the presidents throughout the province and want to get to know them and be aware of all the work done by members.
May Our Lady of Good Counsel bless each and every member of the League.
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial President Barbara McGrath
Many wonderful things have happened “on the rock”, I mean the big land, during the past year!
In September, the provincial executive realized how important it was to have better communication with members. So, we started a closed Facebook page, and many members joined. We invite any of you who want to see what we do, to join our Facebook page.
In the fall, we had a very successful fall meeting. The theme was Living the Corporal Works of Mercy. We had three guest speakers, a sister who works with women who live and work on the streets, the Roman Catholic chaplain of the penitentiary, and a chaplain of the mental health hospital. Their presentations left members with a real sense of the many ways we can be merciful to the people they work with every day. We also visited The Gathering Place and saw firsthand a facility that plays a very important part in the lives of the homeless. Many corporal works of mercy were carried out because of these presentations.
Again, this year councils took part in “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”. We all know how important this issue is and even though some positive action has been taken, we realize that the fight must continue. Yes, we need to keep up the pressure on all levels of government.
A provincial resolution from a couple of years ago has had positive results. A senior’s advocate has been appointed by the provincial government to deal with systemic issues faced by seniors. I had the pleasure of attending a talk by the advocate and was so proud when she told the people in attendance that her appointment was the result of the pressure placed on the government by the League. Resolutions are so much a part of what we do. Many resolutions have made a difference, and I challenge us to act on every one of those action plans.
Just recently, my president-elect and I dropped supplies off at the women’s correctional center in Clarenville. This institution has had two suicides in the last two months. Hopefully this was a gesture to help them deal with the serious issues that affect so many families and vulnerable residents of the province. Again, we need to discuss these issues and try to be part of the solution.
The 38th provincial convention was held during the first weekend in June and it was a wonderful success. The theme was Hope, for anything is possible with God. Beautiful spiritual prayer services were centered around this theme, the annunciation and the words of Luke 1:37, “nothing is impossible with God”. Fr. Critch reminded us that, “we will not succeed if we believe only in ourselves, our plans, our strengths and our capacities. When we open ourselves to the grace of God, the impossible becomes possible”.
During the convention we decided that the focus this year will be on the family and we will encourage councils to study Pope Francis’ Joy of Love [Amoris Laetitia] as we concentrate on this topic. Keeping in mind our national focus, we will be talking about family issues stemming from the many mental health issues that families are experiencing in today’s world.
Though there are so many issues that need attention and in thinking of the theme, we take to heart the challenge presented to us by Fr. Critch, “Go make the impossible, possible”, a challenge for all of us as members of the League.
Nova Scotia Provincial President Glenda Carson
It is a great privilege to present some of the activities and successes within Nova Scotia during the past year. Our blessings, which lie within the leaders and the membership, are so great and important to acknowledge.
Diocesan councils have been very active in their work of supporting the membership to grow in spirit and commitment for the work of this organization. The presidents have been faithful in responding to invitations to visit parish councils. Through this, they have enhanced engagement for members and assisted with strategies that will sustain their viability as active councils. Feedback has always been positive and, in some circumstances, saw councils make a decision to remain active rather than disband or become inactive.
While provincial president, Peggy MacNeil developed a workshop “CWL Days” that focused on providing a better understanding of the League and encouraged members to take on leadership roles. Members were encouraged to bring a friend with the hope of retaining and recruiting members from that day’s session. This work is vitally needed as the elections at both the diocesan and provincial levels required a significant number of appointments. There are many variables underlying this challenge, but building confidence in members to step forward into leadership positions is foundational.
Meetings and conventions continued to be popular gatherings. The mental health theme was actively pursued with invited speakers on several topics. There was a special focus on trauma as it relates to mental health and addictions at the Halifax-Yarmouth diocesan convention. Antigonish Diocesan Council put together a plan to host a KAIROS blanket exercise, bettering members’ understanding about the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Strategic planning also held an important part in the gatherings, with Honorary Life Member Danielle MacNeil-Hessian leading the sessions. Participation was keen and great hope expressed that this is the step forward for a positive future for the League.
At the provincial convention, Peggy MacNeil took effort to recognize parish council anniversaries. She also acknowledged Catherine Camp, who was chosen to be part of the first cohort for the certificate program in Catholic women’s leadership. The provincial convention featured two inspiring presentations. National President Margaret Ann Jacobs took the members on a personal exploration of the essence of servant leadership. Sr. Nuala Kenny, MD presented on the serious concerns regarding the philosophical and practical influence of medical assistance in dying. Both topics were very timely and greatly appreciated.
In closing, this report gives credence to the momentum and depth of the individual day to day services by so many at all levels of the League across Nova Scotia. Members, “who work patiently for people, whose kindness and goodness touch the lives of all we encounter, who are faithful to the Gospel message and live lives of humility and self-control”, do it with great joy!
Ontario Provincial President Anne Madden
Councils in Ontario invited the community to join in this year’s “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”. They held information sessions, signed petitions and gathered for refreshments and fellowship.
The monthly online newsletter features one diocesan council and one standing committee chairperson, sharing their good news. Each executive member also submits a personal testimony on how the League has affected her, or how her position has influenced her thinking during the course of her term. All members are welcome to submit book reviews, special prayers or favourite poems.
Catholic Girls’ Leagues are alive and active in several dioceses with requests for information to implement additional councils. Kingston diocese, for example, has three very active Catholic Girls’ Leagues.
I am overwhelmed, overjoyed and amazed by the ingenious ways members have addressed the provincial theme of Homelessness ร้านค้า. The collection of thousands of pounds of food, sleeping bags for youth shelters, blessing bags, coffee cards, gift cards, helping at soup kitchens, taking the time to smile at and introduce themselves to people on the streets, developing prayer services, and having guest speakers, are only a few of the unique ways members have made a difference in people’s lives. Over $15,000 in $5.00 gift cards were collected from across the province prior to convention for distribution to the needy. The response to bring these gift cards to convention was overwhelming. Three large boxes and two briefcases were filled to overflowing.
Three resolutions were brought to the floor and adopted:
1. Develop National Standards for Levels of Pharmaceuticals in Canada’s Drinking Water
2. Full Implementation of Income Security: A Roadmap for Change for Disabled Adult Ontarians
3. To Fully Implement Alternative Sentencing to Incarceration of Indigenous Offenders
The fourth annual social justice award was presented to Jan Soziak from Kingston diocese.
Diocesan presidents and provincial officers’ reports were based on a “title of Mary”, focusing on how they embraced the theme of homelessness in their diocese or standing committee.
We had the rare opportunity to have breakout sessions. Members could choose to attend two of the six speakers: Covenant House, an organization that focuses its attention on youth; Society of St. Vincent de Paul, that assists adult men and women; Sistering, a shelter for women; St. Elizabeth Homecare, that shared information about “Journey Home Hospice” for homeless men and women; Canada 211, a telephone resource for finding services; and HomeShare Alliance, a business that matches homeowners with individuals who need a home at a reduced rate, in return for assisting the homeowner in some capacity. The highlight was the keynote speaker from PEACH – Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless, a mobile unit that goes to the streets and shelters to provide end-of-life care, allowing these individuals to remain with their “street families” to the end of their earthy life.
This was a powerful, emotional convention where many tears were shed, and prayers said for those who are in much need of our attention.
Prince Edward Island Provincial President Shirley Pierce
I am happy to be here today to talk about the wonderful work that the 1,875 Prince Edward Island League members in 33 parish councils have been doing this past year.
Many of you had the opportunity last August to come to our beautiful island for the League’s national convention. I am very proud of the members for their many hours of planning, dedication and the multitude of actions to make the convention such a success. We had a hardworking committee that planned every detail. Hundreds of volunteers worked before and during the convention. Members across the Island fundraised for three years, donated articles for gift baskets for the national executive, baskets for sale, and baked goodies for the continental breakfast. We were so pleased that so many Island members attended the 2017 convention.
Committee participation was an important learning and mentoring experience, and I am happy that three of the key individual volunteers joined the provincial executive this spring. I am hoping that others will accept executive positions within their councils at their annual meetings.
Each year we have a provincial convention in May, host two fall conferences and hold four area meetings. Each of these events are based on the theme Inspired by the Spirit, Women Respond To God’s Call.
The 96th provincial convention was held in early May. We were pleased with the guest speakers. Sr. Phyllis Gallant spoke on the national theme and focused on the Holy Spirit. Dr. Heather Keizer gave a compelling talk on “Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Relationships”. We were very fortunate to have National President Margaret Ann Jacobs lead the members in a strategic planning exercise. Members were excited to participate in exercises that will “develop practical ways that will best reflect the Catholic Women’s League today and tomorrow”. More than $1,000 was collected and given to Catholic Missions In Canada.
At the fall conferences, Sr. Sue Kidd gave an inspiring presentation on the theme and her involvement with students at the University of Prince Edward Island and their spirituality. Other speakers gave information on the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, and P.E.I. Right to Life. Two provincial executive members gave a workshop on resolutions.
In March, we scheduled four area meetings on Saturday mornings and finished at noon with a potluck lunch and lots of time for fellowship and sharing. This year, in addition to several spiritual exercises, we did workshops on how to run a League meeting, what sample minutes, treasurer’s reports and standing committee reports look like, and how to prepare and vote on motions. We provided some controversial situations that might arise at a meeting and had members discuss at their tables and report back to the others on how these can be handled. Members really enjoy when they have opportunities to discuss issues, share best practices and network.
Councils reported various activities to further develop spirituality. Several councils enjoyed spiritual retreats with wonderful guest speakers. Funding for the sessions came from the CWL PEI Subsidy Program. The program was promoted early in the year and we received many applications for funding.
Most councils participated in the “12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care”, some for the full 12 hours, some for shorter services. Many members participate in World Day of Prayer services with neighbouring churches.
Members continue to advocate for the unborn, palliative care and care of seniors through letters, post cards and e-mails to provincial and federal governments. Many members took part in the annual March for Life and I gave the closing prayer on behalf of the League.
Information sharing is an important activity in any organization. We are striving to ensure that members are aware of information. This is accomplished through communiqués, letters and e-mails, Facebook and the webpage. Also, each provincial executive member places phone calls to assigned parish council presidents throughout the year. The fun and excitement of councils is shared through newsletters, which highlight information items, pictures and celebrated activities in parish councils.
In closing, may Our Lady of Good Counsel continue to bless us and to strengthen councils and their leadership as we work “For God and Canada”.
Quebec Provincial President Linda Chisholm
Once again, it is an honour and a pleasure for me to bring greetings from your League sisters in Quebec. When membership decreased across Canada, we were all very proud to learn that Quebec was the only province to report an increase in membership in 2017. We must be doing something right! Pride in the League also radiated as members from the Montreal diocese walked in the Canada Day parade for the first time this year, led by newly elected Montreal Diocesan President Lydia Fielding.
Fr. Andrew Thavarajasingam, Apostleship of the Sea Chaplain and the spiritual advisor for the Montreal Diocesan Council was the guest speaker at the annual workshop. Inspired by his presentation and by the World Day of the Poor, the Montreal diocese initiated a project to gather Christmas gifts for the seafarers at the port of Montreal. Many seafarers suffer from loneliness and abuse. With the wish list fulfilled and the gifts delivered, the seafarers replied with a thank you note stating that Mariners’ House was able to provide 1,430 gifts to 65 ships with the donations received.
The original mission of the League was to welcome immigrants. We need to get to know and understand them if we are to be truly welcoming. Last fall a group of us gathered for brunch and to listen to the Imam from a local mosque as he shared with us some of the beliefs and traditions of the Muslim community. I was most impressed by the respectful manner in which he always spoke the name of Jesus, always followed by “Holy be His name”. As Canada opens its doors to the world, we need to continue to educate ourselves about other cultures and religions. Ignorance is the root cause of fear, and fear breeds hate and violence. But we are a people of peace.
With a focus on mental illness this year, we invited speakers to communicate the services and resources their organizations offered, as well as their own personal stories. It quickly became obvious to us the importance the family unit plays in mental health. At the convention in June, members were invited to submit prayer intentions for families. We placed these in a house shaped box that will be brought to Dublin, Ireland for the World Meeting of Families and it will be in the presence of Pope Francis during the closing mass.
Quebec is blessed with a rich religious heritage. Its churches serve as more than places of worship. Many offer refuges to the homeless, host refugees, run food banks and serve as community centers. Holy Family Parish Council (Deux-Montagnes) is facing uncertainty as more than half of the parishes in the Diocese of Saint-Jerome are slated for closure. This council worries about its future as members face the possibility of being merged with another parish. Archbishop Christian Lépine (Montreal) suggested in his open letter of June 20, 2018 entitled Embarking on the Mission Together that we need to build on the heritage we have received. He reminds us that we are called to walk in hope “because the Lord is with us every day until the end of the world”.
Members are hopeful and excited about the changes that are ahead of us as the result of strategic planning. Not only are we excited about the future of the League but as 2020 approaches the excitement is mounting as we plan to welcome all League sisters to Montreal to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first annual national convention. I welcome each and every one of you to Montreal in 2020. I am sure you will want to extend your stay with us and explore some of the diversity and beauty that we have to offer.
Saskatchewan Provincial President Margaret Schwab
2018 marks the 70th anniversary of Saskatchewan Provincial Council, an event well worth a celebration! But we wondered how would we do this with limited funds in our bank account? So, the provincial executive decided that we could show our gratitude for 70 years by paying it forward. Each parish council was asked to do a fundraising project for Catholic Missions In Canada (CMIC). While all the councils have not yet completed their projects, some events have been “Nickels for the North”, a collection of loose change after parish masses, bake sales, raffles and even a soup supper during Lent. Many councils are taking advantage of the Catholic Missions calendar program with the proceeds from the sale of these calendars being sent back to CMIC. Through the suggestion of sponsoring CMIC, we heard from Mary Kehrig, a member from Saskatoon, who has been helping for many years by travelling each summer to a different northern community. Once there, she helps teach bible school for the children. She pays all of her own expenses and tells me the reward is well worth the expense. This year we were very pleased to have Fr. David Reilander join us at the provincial convention to educate members on the needs and the works of CMIC.
Members attended workshops in their regions. Topics included the gifts of the Spirit, palliative care, blanket ceremonies, actions for truth and reconciliation, Catholic education and, of course, the planning strategically sessions offered by national executive members.
On cold winter nights and cool spring days, we are often looking for things to lift our spirits. This was the year for costumes and laughter. In Yorkton, at the Regina diocesan convention, we were treated to a performance by “Babba” who sang suspiciously like Abba. In Saskatoon, at a regional gathering, we saw a play on words called “An evening with Grandma”, although Grandma was never in the play. And the most fun of all was a skit called “The CWL Goes to Court” written by Rosemary Dansyka of St. Louis Parish Council (Waterloo, Ontario). Most of the actors were honorary life and life members and they were such a hit that it was performed at multiple events. Special appearances by none other than Bellelle Guerin, Mackenzie King and Pope Pius X as well as many other League supporters made for an entertaining time. We even had a cameo appearance by our brand new provincial spiritual advisor, Fr. Peter Nnanga.
The members of Saskatchewan are women of faith, carrying out God’s work tirelessly, working together to strengthen the League. And, yes, we do have quite a bit of fun along the way.