Spiritual Advisor’s Report
Saskatchewan Provincial Convention of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada
June 1-2, 2015
Members of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada, why do we belong to a national organization? This is a very important question, and there is a critical need to understand that ‘national’ aspect. A lack of understanding could lead to the dissimilation of a powerful national body into a mere collection of hundreds of parochial bodies having in common only the name – The Catholic Women’s League of Canada. Our Mission Statement reads: The Catholic Women’s League of Canada is a national organization. The Emblem states: For God and Canada.
Since the League passed its first resolution on June 19, 1920, and presented it to the Federal Government, the League has continued to be the voice of Catholic women across Canada and has spoken out on numerous subjects encompassing many facets of life in Canada such as education, health, community life and Christian family life. For the past forty years the National Executive has had the privilege of meeting annually with Federal Government officials to present the resolutions passed at the annual national conventions. This is an incredible opportunity for the Catholic women of Canada, and for the Catholic Church of Canada. No one else has such an opportunity. When Federal Government representatives bring greetings to the convention floor, they always speak with high regard of the wisdom and insight of the National Executive members who bring forth the resolutions, resolutions that were formulated by the local parish councils. This is where we really see the Catholic Women’s League at work.
Provincial President, Marge Szabo, in her report to the Regina Annual Convention in Moose Jaw this past April 26/27 said, “On March 22, 23 and 24, the National Executive met with heads of federal government departments and discussed various issues with them. In these discussion, they did not speak on their own behalf, but were speaking for the 88,000 members of the Catholic Women’s League across Canada” In her toast to the League at the same convention Honourary Life Member, Jean Mahoney, said, “...Pray that we use our talents and strengths as we continue to meet with church leaders, Government and communities for the betterment of society.”
There is, as most members know, the disquieting fact of the steady decline in membership. In 1974, when the National Executive first went to the Federal Government to discuss resolutions, the population of Canada was 23,143,000, and membership of the League was 101,442. In the 2015 the estimated population of Canada is 35,870,000 and the membership of the League is 88,610. This dramatic shift in numbers may cause some people to question why the government would continue to meet with an organization that is obviously getting smaller and whose voice is no longer speaking for the number of people it once did.
I believe that a focus on the relationship between the parish councils and the other levels of the League will help the members to understand the dynamics at work within the League as a whole.
For example, let’s talk about money. Do members know what their membership fee does for them and for the League? Or do they simply submit their membership fees to National Office and then carry on with business at home as usual? Sure, the individual member gets a copy of The League magazine, but for the other levels of the League it means they are able to carry on their work. Local councils, to bolster interest in the League, need to follow what those other levels are doing. The League magazine, websites, and communiques all give the members lots of information on what their diocesan, provincial and national councils are doing with them and for them. The annual conventions are the place for members to see the various levels in action. Yet, we have also seen a drop in the attendance at conventions. In 1993 the National convention was held in Regina with 1136 registrations. Twenty years later the number attending the convention in Regina was 784. That means there were 352 people less who experienced the national body at work discussing resolutions and receiving the annual reports.
Local parish Councils do a lot of amazing work for the church, the poor and outreach to the community, but if there is not a conscious effort made to connect with the national aspect and workings of the organization, then the members could save their membership fee and simply become a parish ladies’ organization. But that would a great loss for the Catholic women of Canada and for the Catholic Church and ultimately for Canada itself. National President, Barbara Dowding, has gifted us with the wonderful theme: One heart One voice One mission.
Canada and the Catholic Church need the strong and passionate voices of women today to speak out for justice, equity, health, education, etc. The League can be that voice, but to do this the Catholic Women’s League of Canada needs a strong base of dedicated women who truly are of one heart one voice and one mission working for God and Canada.
So, sisters in the League and spiritual advisors, go back to your local councils and talk about what it means to be part of a national organization. Strive to make some part of each meeting, or at least each second meeting relevant to the work of the other levels of the League. Share articles from the magazine or a CWL website. Work on a resolution. Make it a budget priority to send delegates to the annual diocesan and provincial conventions and, if possible, the national convention. Don’t let the communiques get lost in some chairperson’s file. Make the resolutions and their action plans the focus of a meeting. Don’t worry so much about what you will do for your Christmas or year-end party. Just do what you did last year, and then get down to writing letters. Share stories of the League’s accomplishments like Velma’s Dream to help children and youth in Jerusalem.
A great trust has been passed on to the Catholic women of today. Every Catholic woman should have the opportunity to be a part of this awesome organization – not just for the work at the parish level, but to raise the level of the voice of Catholic women all across Canada who have one heart filled with peace and hope with one voice speaking of faith and justice to carry out their one mission as they serve the people of God.
This concludes my report.
Rev. Francis Hengen
Past Provincial Spiritual Advisor
Stitches of Love from St. Gerard’s CWL
St. Gerard’s CWL has been busy sewing: first, nearly 1000 comfort care cushions for our local nursing home and hospital, and now quilts! Yvonne Turgeon, quilt coordinator, explains: “In the past, we have given quilts to the Salvation Army, Victims Services, Shelwin House & Safe Haven. This year we made 42 quilts, 10 of which will be going to the Transition House, five for the girls & 5 for the boys. We will be requesting that when one of the residents leaves that they take with them the quilt. Some of the other quilts will be going north to the missions, which we are told are very much needed.” A wonderful, worthwhile project, with love and prayers sewn into every stitch!
Love In The Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and St. Gerard’s CWL found the “perfect recipe” to celebrate their 50th anniversary! Their anniversary cookbook, “Love In The Kitchen”, is a compilation of best-loved family recipes. This project brought CWL sisters together to
sort, check, and re-check the hundreds of delicious recipes that were submitted.
As cookbook project coordinator Fran Mroczko comments, “Various recipes shared by parish members were printed and will become treasures in our kitchens as you are sure to claim a book as your own.”
CWL On Parade!
St. Gerard’s CWL is planning a float for the Yorkton Exhibition parade in July, 2015. This entry will feature members and friends in various ethnic costumes, and will be a visual celebration to the community of the St. Gerard’s CWL 50th Anniversary!
Breakfast and Appreciation
St. Gerard’s CWL members expressed appreciation to the men of St. Gerard’s parish in Yorkton by cooking up a delicious Father’s Day brunch on June 21. Members gathered on Saturday to prepare, then on Sunday to cook. It was a time of great food, great fellowship, and appreciation to the Dads and men of the parish who contribute so much to the parish family.
It’s The Sale Everyone Waits For!
St. Gerard’s CWL is already at work planning the sale that everyone in town waits for: The Annual Two Day Garage Sale in September! Treasures begin coming in several weeks before the event; and early in the week of the sale, CWL members and kind, strong gents from the parish family gather to bring all the items into the hall and sort them. It’s a huge project, but provides great fellowship and helps to raise money for worthwhile CWL projects. And everyone loves to find new treasures at the garage sale!
And if you need some general inspirational comments, perhaps there would be room for these…
What is The League all about?
Some thoughts on the CWL from the Spiritual Convenor, Frances Mroczko, at St. Gerard’s
in Yorkton, Saskatchewan: “So then, what is the League all about ? It is sisters working together at a common table for a common good. It is prayer, and as we pray together, we know God’s love and grace accompanies all our endeavors.
It is love in its finest form complete with agreements, disagreements, scraps, forgiveness, respect and understanding. It is knowledge, ever growing and expanding within each member. It is work, but a labor of love and the justifiable pride that comes out of a job well done. It is fun and where our need to belong is fulfilled.
No organization is ever perfect, so let go of the negative, “”BE POSITIVE and PRAISE GOD”” for all that we do have.”
Health and Education Food for Thought
Angela Ostapovich, Health and Education, with St. Gerard’s CWL in Yorkton Saskatchewan presents these thoughts inspired by this year’s CWL National convention: “We are encouraged to strengthen our family bonds through both literacy and physical wellness. We are encouraged to take time for family reading, family walking, exercising, bike riding, jogging, swimming, bowling or whatever physical activity you enjoy...This could be done with children, grandchildren , husband or League sisters..Some form of exercise will help your body feel healthier and bring some form of renewed sense of joy to your relationships -- In family, in church or in the league..Let us continue to grow and strengthen our small family or our church family bonds through education and health.”
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