2020 is the 100th anniversary of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL). The CWL’s national convention/AGM was to be held in August 2020. However, with the onset of the COVID19 virus restrictions, all levels (diocesan, provincial and national) of CWL conventions/AGMs were postponed. The National Council of the CWL was proactive in using technology to engage several of the National convention speakers to give their presentations as webinars. The webinars are called the Summer Speaker Series. Well over 1,500 people from across Canada and from several other countries tuned in to the webinars. Today, I share with you some of my notes from the fifth session.
The Catholic Women's League of Canada is a national service organization of women who are members of the Roman Catholic Church, who work together to promote Catholic values and to carry out volunteer and charitable work.
In the fifth session of the Summer Speaker Series, August 14 - National President and Chairperson of Laws, Anne-Marie Gorman spoke on "The League in 2020.”
Ms. Gorman thanked all the presenters of the Summer Speaker Series as well as her staff and executive at the National level for all their work over the past few months. She reviewed CWL activities for the year 2020 and noted all the changes that took place due to COVID19 restrictions. We operate under a prohibition or a silence regarding holding virtual meetings and holding elections electronically, so all annual meetings/AGMs were postponed to 2021. The resolutions that were to be discussed at the 2020 Convention will be dealt with at the 2021 National Convention.
National realizes that it has to consider changes to our Constitution and Bylaws (C & B) and to the National Manual of Policy and Procedures (the Manual) to allow us to deal with the situation when we cannot meet face-to-face as we are used to doing. She reminded us that if we had changes that we would like to see take place in the C & B and in the Manual that those recommended changes are due to National by the end of August. Any suggested changes would be discussed by a committee and vetted for pros and cons. The National executive would make recommendations for approval, and proposed changes would be brought to convention in 2021.
Ms. Gorman noted that technology has been a gift to us during the pandemic restrictions allowing us to communicate more as provincial, National and implementation committees. We have had more live streaming of masses, rosaries, webinars, and trainings re: evangelization the use of technology. She encouraged us to communicate with our members at the parish and diocesan levels virtually, by phone and in courtyards, fields, and parking lots as the restrictions ease.
She praised God for the power of women and their ability to react positively citing the Montreal 2020 National Planning Committee as an example. She encourages us to continue to support each other, to continue to provide services, and to reflect on our situation. She stated that women don’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’ She encouraged us to plant a tree for our 100th anniversary and to continue to support our voluntary funds: Catholic Missions in Canada (CMIC), Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), the CWL National Bursary, and the Cody Fund. She noted that Catholic Missions in Canada is in dire need of contributions. She reminded us that October 1 is the CWL Day of Prayer for Home Missions and that funds for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition are still being collected. We were encouraged to continue with the Pornography Hurts project using the postcards that are available through the League. Send them to government officials making sure to ask them a question to ensure that you get a response from them.
Ms. Gorman responded to questions raised by listeners:
The League Prayer
We humbly pray You, O God our Father,
to bless the Catholic Women's League of Canada.
Bless our beloved country, our homes and families.
Send Your Holy Spirit upon us
to give light to our minds and strength to our wills
that we may know and fulfill
Your great law of charity.
Teach us to share with others
at home and abroad,
the good things You have given us.
This we ask through Our Lord Jesus Christ
and the intercession of our patroness,
Our Lady of Good Counsel.
2020 is the 100th anniversary of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL). The CWL’s national convention/AGM was to be held in August 2020. However, with the onset of the COVID19 virus restrictions, all levels of CWL conventions/AGMs were cancelled. The National Council of the CWL was proactive in using technology to engage several of the National convention speakers to give their presentations as webinars. The webinars are called the Summer Speaker Series. Well over 1,500 people from across Canada and from several other countries tuned in to the webinars. Today, I share with you some of my notes from the fourth session.
The Catholic Women's League of Canada is a national service organization of women who are members of the Roman Catholic Church, who work together to promote Catholic values and to carry out volunteer and charitable work. In 2020 the CWL has about 75,000 members in over 1,000 parish councils across Canada. The CWL is one of the largest women’s organizations in Canada promoting awareness and responding to political and social issues that affect all Canadians. While today, approximately 75,000 women make up the CWL, the organization once boasted a membership of over 100,000 women. For some years now, the national leadership team along with its members have been discerning the steady decline in membership and resistance of members to take on leadership roles. Across Canada, many other non-profit groups and associations are facing the same membership crises. In an attempt to stem the decline in membership and to fine tune the organization, the leadership team decided to plan strategically for the future. A plan was unveiled in August 2018.
In the fourth session of the Summer Speaker Series, August 14, 2020, Fran Lucas, National President-Elect and Chairperson of Organization spoke on the topic: "The League of the Future: Part III."
With a ‘Star Wars’ theme opening, Lucas reviewed the mission, the core principles and the purpose of the CWL. The mission is “The Catholic Women's League of Canada calls its members to grow in faith, and to witness to the love of God through ministry and service.” Its core purpose is to unite Catholic women to grow in faith, and to promote social justice through service to the church, Canada and the world. Core values are: faith – following Catholic teaching; service – local, national and international; and social justice – active involvement in society.
We were encouraged to pray the Prayer for Renewal developed by Sr. Susan Scott at all our council meetings. [See end of this article for copy of prayer.] Ms. Lucas focused on Goal 4 – Addressing Critical Issues with help from the leads for this particular goal, Sharon Cieben and Lisa Henry. The objectives are:
Ms. Henry spoke on Goal 4:A1 – simplify procedures and reporting processes. The Reorganization group is looking at the following actions:
Building a foundation – having a new section on the CWL website dealing with social media and marketing contact with a uniform brand presence and a new social media program.
Ten Storytelling vignettes and a 100th Anniversary video with achievements, milestones and resolutions that have had an impact on our society.
Focus on connecting: Why join? If you only knew! Progressive thinkers, positive images, and a one-stop shop for faith, social justice and service.
We were given a peek at what is coming up next:
Goal 2: Increase members’ knowledge of Catholic social teaching – G2.A2 – Empower members by providing educational opportunities to learn more about Catholic social teaching.
Goal 3: League Misconceptions – G3.A1 – Address misconceptions about The League.
Goal 3: Encourage Diversity – G3.A2 – Embrace diverse cultures and ages.
Goals 3: Toolkits – G3.B1 – Create ready-made adaptable toolkits for use in parishes.
Goal 3: Spiritual Formation – G3.C3 – Focus on the spiritual and social aspects in councils.
Goal 1: Increase the capacity and efficiency of leadership – G1.D3 – Capitalize on members’ willingness to take on short-term leadership responsibilities.
Ms. Lucas concluded with the comment: “WE NEED YOU!” She encouraged us to sign up to complete the surveys that are sent out, to participate in focus groups, to complete questionnaires, and to volunteer for working groups. [Sign up by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and stating your intention to participate.]
CWL Prayer for Renewal
God of new beginnings, ever faithful God, we thank you for your constant care for
the women of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada.
We have sought to serve you in faith by service to your people.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with the help of Our Lady of Good Counsel,
we continue to discern Your call to seek justice and build Your Kingdom on earth each day.
We ask your guidance as we plan the evolution of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada.
Grant us wisdom, the grace of discernment, and strength.
May each of us open her heart and mind to your will and welcome the new life you bring to the League.
We ask this through Jesus, Your beloved Son and Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. AMEN. – Sr. Susan Scott, CAF
2020 is the 100th anniversary of the The Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL). The CWL’s national convention/AGM was to be held in August. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 virus restrictions, all conventions/AGMs were cancelled. The National Council of the CWL were proactive in using technology to engage several of the guest speakers for the National Convention to give their presentations as webinars. The webinars are called the Summer Speaker Series. Well over 1,500 people from across Canada and from several other countries tuned in to the webinars. Today, I share with you some of my notes from the third session.
August 12 - Sr. Nuala Kenny, O.C., M.D., F.R.C.P.(C) speaking on "Women and Healing Our Wounded Church" "All elements of the crisis of clergy sexual abuse of children and the vulnerable are in stark contradiction to Jesus’ mission, words and witness. Jesus Himself demonstrated a profoundly counter-cultural approach to children and to women. Together, we will review the harms to victims, survivors and the entire Body of Christ from the history of abuse. All are called to healing the Church from this scandal. This reflection brings specific insights from women’s experience and research on vulnerability, abuse of power, care and relational moral thinking.” (Introduction to Sr. Kenny’s webinar, Summer Speaker Series, 2020)
Sr. Kenny’s goals for this session are:
Pope Francis said, “I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful ... I see the church as a field hospital after battle.” (Oct 27, 2015) Dr. Kenny challenged each of us to enter into a topic that we may be afraid to approach.
In the past 100 years during which the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) has served God and Canada, we have dealt with and/or are dealing with global crises:
Dr. Kenny asks:
Prophetic Possibilities for the Church (2014) a book by Dr. Nuala Kenney. “The recognition of the importance of underlying systemic and cultural factors is not new. In 1989, following devastating revelations of child sexual abuse by Irish Christian brothers and diocesan clergy in St. John's, N.L., I (Dr. Kenny) participated in the lay-led Archdiocesan Commission of Inquiry into the Sexual Abuse of Children by Members of the Clergy. Its 1990 report summarized the available literature on the sexual abuse of children. In assessing why and how the abuse had occurred, the Commission concluded that no single cause accounts for the abuse but that a number of factors coincided to allow the abuse to occur. It identified six factors in urgent need of further exploration by Church leaders for their role: power, education, sexuality, support for priests, a management approach and avoidance of scandal.
Twenty-five years after Newfoundland and despite compelling research and experience, the hierarchy, with notable exceptions, is still unable or unwilling to acknowledge the systemic and cultural factors that have shaped and, at times, fostered the sexual abuse crisis. Why the moral blindness in failing to recognize the deeper issues of ecclesial sin and the denial of the pain and suffering inflicted on the whole Church? Agere sequitur esse is an old moral maxim. Action does indeed follow being, and Church leadership has responded to the global crisis with the same denial, minimization of harm and protection of image as in individual cases because of deeply enculturated attitudes and practices. Deep within a culture, a moral blindness can infect so that it becomes impossible to see and assess its dark side. This is when it is crucial to learn from others.”
2020 is the 100th anniversary of the The Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL). The CWL’s national convention/AGM was to be held in August. However, with the onset of the COVID19 virus restrictions, all conventions/AGMs were cancelled. The National Council of the CWL were proactive in using (www.vatican.vatechnology to engage several of the guest speakers for the National Convention to give their presentations as webinars. The webinars were called the Summer Speaker Series. Well over 1,500 people from across Canada and from several other countries tuned in to the webinars. Today, I share with you some of my notes from the second session.
August 11th - Dr. Donna Orsuto, professor of spirituality at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy spoke to us from Rome on "Women Together Caring for our Common Home." For more information on Dr. Orsuto, check the end of this article.
Dr. Orsuto – Part I
Dr. Orsuto emphasized that we as women can implement Laudato Si’ (www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-frances). This encyclical, she believes, is more relevant now with the COVID19 pandemic than when it was released five years ago by Pope Francis. Orsuto encourages us to focus on the messages in Laudato Si’. She points out that Pope Francis is passing on Jesus’ message: “You Lord are calling on us.”
Today is the Feast of St. Clare (1194 – 1253), the first woman to write a monastic rule for women. For St. Clare, Orsuto says, “less was truly more.”
Pope Francis, five years after his encyclical (June 14, 2020) released a book entitled Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home: Five Years After Laudato Si’ in which he presents challenging proposals for the practical implementation of his encyclical throughout the church and in the wider world. Orsuto and the Pope believe that everything is connected. Each specific crisis we face is a part of a single, complex, socio-environmental crisis that requires a true ecological conversion.
Orsuto refers to the Canticle of Creation (St. Francis of Assisi) which Pope Francis uses to open and close the encyclical, Laudato Si’. Our common home is a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. We have an intimate relationship with nature:
Orsuto speaks of the methodology underlining Laudato Si’. We must SEE, JUDGE and ACT.
Dr. Orsuto tells us, “Change your Lifestyle!” Can I live without my air conditioner? We must live our vocation to protect God’s handiwork. This is intentional, not optional. We must face our tendency to consume and embrace a lifestyle where ‘less is more.’ We must develop a deep enjoyment which is free from the obsession with what we have. We must cherish each moment. We need an ecological conversion, a community conversion. Be connected with all creation. Spend time in nature. Be grateful for the gift of creation. Repent as an individual and as a society of our sin against the environment. Change our lifestyle. “Live simply so that others may simply live.” (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton/Ghandi) Read the pledge suggested by Pope Francis (www.livelaudatosi.org) and of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/program/st-francis-pledge). “I pledge to pray, live, and advocate Laudato Si’.”
The pandemic has helped us to slow down. We must sustain this ‘slowing down’ and remain together as family living a simple life even after the pandemic. We can use Pope Francis as a model: He walks the talk, taking personal responsibility for his actions.
Dr. Orsuto – Part II
Women together can influence how Laudato Si’ is implemented in our homes, parishes and communities.
SEE: Orsuto asks, “What have women done before? Mary Ward in 1670 said, “And I hope in God it will be seen that women in time will do much.” What are women doing now? What’s the best way forward? What are practical ways to act together?
Three women who put into action ‘care for our common home’:
Orsuto feels that these three women were prophetic. Our grandmothers, our mothers, teachers, catechists and parish workers also have shown us in their actions that ‘less is more.’ In the present, our young people like Greta Thunberg are witnesses of ‘care for our common home.’ We need dialogue between the generations. The young are not in decision-making roles yet; the older generation is needed to make decisions.
Women have already taken initiative:
JUDGE/DISCERN: How can women best implement Laudato Si?’ We need to be connected and co-responsible:
ACT: Where do we go from here? We need to react as a human family, to pray together that with God’s help we can make a difference. Dr. Orsuto encouraged us to say the Common Prayer for the Fifth Anniversary of Laudato Si’ available on the internet (laudatosiweek.orgwp-content/uploads/2020/04/LSW-Common-Prayer.pdf) and to continue to be inspired by Pope Francis.
In closing, Dr. Orsuto shared a quote by Mahatma Ghandi, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Originally from the United States, Dr. Orsuto lectures and gives retreats worldwide. She is the co-founder and director of The Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome and has authored various books and numerous articles in the area of spirituality. Dr. Orsuto is active in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. She currently serves as a consultor for the Congregation for Divine Worship and is a member of the Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Diocese of Rome. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI named her a Dame of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of Saint Gregory the Great.
From Aug. 10 – 15, 2020, The National Council of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada was to host their 100th anniversary celebration of the League at its annual convention and AGM. Because of pandemic restrictions, the convention was postponed to 2021 and guest speakers for the convention were recruited to present to thousands of members and interested people through a webinar series called Summer Speaker Series. Today, I present to you my summary of our first speaker, Dr. Cory Andrew Labrecque, Associate Professor of Bioethics and Theological Ethics, University of Laval speaking on "Speak to the Earth and it Shall Teach You: On the Christian Vocation to Tend, Guard, and Heal." For more information on Dr. Labrecque check the end of this article. Summaries of the other webinars will be highlighted later this week.
"The Catholic Women's League of Canada's Summer Speaker Series
with Dr. Cory Andrew Labrecque.
Labrecque began with the quote: “Rise! Let us be on our way.” (Mark 14: 42) These words were used by Jesus when Judas betrayed him to the authorities. ‘Betray’ infers a position that allows the betrayer to treacherously place the victim in a harmful situation. Labrecque believes that humankind has betrayed the earth. However, he sees the words of the quote as an invitation to continue and to do better after we’ve stumbled or failed. With the earth and with the poor, we must continue and do better.
Dr. Labrecque spoke of the variety of pollutions and harsh realities that humankind has created: industrial, air, water, agricultural, and land pollution; overpopulation; over-consumption; deforestation; resource depletion; widespread destruction of species; loss of biodiversity; and global climate change. The encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis says that our mother, earth, “groans in travail.”
Labrecque invited us to think about our own homes – Would I throw garbage throughout my home, leak chemicals there, put toxins in the drinking water or bulldoze all the grass and trees in my yard? He asks us now to think of the earth as ‘our home,’ and he wonders why we would do all those things to ‘our home.’
Who is to blame? Labrecque referred to an article called ‘The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis’ (1967) by Professor Lynn White, Jr. White suggests that religion, particularly Christianity, is an important, and possibly the only factor in how human societies relate to the natural world. It puts humans at the centre – the earth serves humankind; earth is considered valuable only because humans can use it. At the end of his article, White writes: “Saint Francis, proposed what he thought was an alternative Christian view of nature and man's relation to it; he tried to substitute the idea of the equality of all creatures, including man, for the idea of man's limitless rule of creation. He failed. Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. We must rethink and re-feel our nature and destiny. The profoundly religious, but heretical, sense of the primitive Franciscans for the spiritual autonomy of all parts of nature may point a direction. I propose Francis as a patron saint for ecologists.”
Labrecque presented the two accounts of Genesis: the first account involved the creation of the universe which Labrecque presents in a unique way.
Environment – days one to four
1st Day: Light
2nd day: Sky and Sea
3rd day: Dry Land
4th day: Vegetation
Inhabitants - corresponding to the first four days are found in days five to eight.
5th day: Sun, Moon and Stars
6th day: Birds and Fish
7th day: Animals
8th day: Humans
God saw everything, and it was very good. He didn’t just see humans; all of creation was good.
Fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over fish, bird, every living thing, and every green plant. Dominion can be despotism where we exploit and toss aside things or it can be stewardship where we look after everything because everything is very good. God asks us to be stewards, not despots.
God’s creation of humans is one event among many events of creation. We were created in God’s image, and we need to be able to see that “everything” that God created was very good, not just us. Don’t be deluded that “the land is mine”; it is God’s and he wants balance and harmony
There is a Sabbath, Shabbat (Jewish), a day of rest, for everything, not just for humans. Environmental rest is needed - 7th day, 7th year, 50th year (the year after 7 sets of 7 years.) We have stopped practicing this time of rest. Perhaps this pandemic we are dealing with today is the earth crying out for a time of environmental rest. Since the start of the pandemic, air pollution and toxic emissions have decreased. Carbon dioxide has been cut down.
Labrecque moved on to the Second Creation: In the Garden of Eden, Adam was given the authority and responsibility to name the animals; Adam and Eve were commissioned to tend and to till. Their disobedience caused a strain between humankind and the earth. Labrecque points out that the main character in this story is the “garden” not humankind. Humankind was created from the earth, for the earth.
There are several environmental themes in Catholic Christian Tradition:
Questions to think about:
What are the challenges/obstacles for people?
Does care for creation lead to nature worship?
How does making reference to ‘the environment’ as ‘creation’ impact the way we approach the issues at hand?
How are we called to act?
Dr. Labrecque praised the Catholic Women’s League of Canada for their work on social justice issues through their resolutions. He encouraged The League to continue to “Rise! Let us be on our way.”
About Dr. Cory Andrew Labrecque, Ph.D., is an associate professor of bioethics and theological ethics, and the inaugural chairperson of educational leadership in the ethics of life at the faculty of theology and religious studies at the University of Laval in Quebec City, where he also directs the program in applied ethics. Previously, he served as the Raymond F. Schinazi Scholar in bioethics and religious thought, and the director of the graduate program in bioethics at the Center for Ethics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He earned a bachelor of science in anatomy and cell biology, a master of arts in religious studies with a specialization in bioethics, and a doctorate in religious ethics at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Labrecque’s teaching and research examine how the Abrahamic religions—with a focus on the Roman Catholic tradition—approach ethical issues in medicine, biotechnology and the environment. He is especially interested in ethical issues at the end of life and understandings of human personhood. He was recently appointed vice-president of the National Committee for Ethics and Ageing by the province of Quebec’s minister for seniors and was recently named corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Hi! My name is Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI and I am the pastor of the Meadow Lake Cluster. I serve the faith communities of Our Lady of the Smile, Waterhen, St. Jude's, Green Lake and Our Lady of Peace, Meadow Lake. I arrived in the cluster on August 15th, 2019. You can see more information about me on the home page!