WATROUS, Sask. — Reflections, prayer, presentations, and reports were all part of the 82nd annual diocesan convention of the Catholic Women’s League held May 1 at the Watrous Civic Centre and at St. Ann’s Parish in Watrous.
Representatives of local CWL councils from across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon joined special guests — including provincial CWL president Jean Reader and national president Margaret Ann Jacobs — in a convention focused on the 2017 CWL theme, “Inspired by the Spirit, women respond to God’s call.”
In her keynote address, Jacobs explored the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, using Scripture as a starting point to discuss inspiration and challenges for CWL members and local councils.
“There is no doubt that sometimes it is a challenge to work with so many women with so many gifts and talents; however, how we interact with each other is often what makes a difference in how vibrant our parish (CWL) councils are,” Jacobs said. “Through our actions we can build God’s kingdom.”
She encouraged members to reflect and pray on the purpose and mission of the league in light of the Holy Spirit’s call. “As Catholic women, we are empowered by the Spirit to renew our commitment to the call to holiness through service to the People of God,” she stressed.
“We are the voice of Catholic women united in faith, promoting Christian values in the home and in the world. We offer hospitality, friendship, sisterhood, support and affirmation that empower women to reach their full potential. We provide faith-based opportunities for spiritual growth, leadership development, and many avenues for service, advocacy and social justice,” Jacobs said.
In addition to her keynote talk, the national president also informed CWL members about discussions with bishops and Catholic ethicists about how CWL councils at every level must discern their support (financial or volunteer) for health care facilities that are involved directly or through referral in providing euthanasia or assisted suicide — known as Medical Aid in Dying, or MAID.
Providing support for a facility involved in assisted suicide or euthanasia could be a matter of “co-operating with evil,” she noted. Such co-operation would be morally wrong from a Catholic perspective.
“The charitable support that the Catholic Women’s League provides for institutions that directly co-operate with MAID must be reviewed,” she said. “It is morally justified to withdraw financial support to such health care institutions and hospices . . . and we need to clearly state the reasons in the hope that they will reconsider their policies and procedures.”
It may be possible for CWL councils to ask that support be allocated to areas of the institution that are not directly involved in providing assisted suicide or euthanasia, she added. “We need to have dialogue with parishes and diocesan spiritual advisors and our bishops,” she said. “This is something that we need to address. We can’t pretend that it isn’t happening.”
Support for palliative care, including a day of prayer organized nationally by the CWL on May 4, was one of the areas highlighted throughout the day.
The hall itself was decorated with lap quilts, prayer shawls, and hand-made blankets for the sick and dying that were brought to the convention by local councils from across the Diocese of Saskatoon.
Saskatoon diocesan CWL president Marlene VanDresar presented a report highlighting a range of initiatives — such as the CWL day of prayer for palliative care; a series of videos about palliative care, suicide prevention, care for the elderly and L’Arche (found online at www.findingthegifts.ca) produced by the bishops of Saskatchewan with support from the Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation; as well as Pope Francis’ call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate newcomers and refugees.
VanDresar announced milestone anniversaries for CWL councils across the diocese, including three that are celebrating 90 years: Immaculate Conception Council at Major, St. Michael Council at Cudworth, and St. Bruno Council at Bruno. Sacred Heart Council at Eston is celebrating its 85th anniversary, while St. Ann’s Council at Watrous and St. Patrick’s Council at Young are both celebrating 80 years, while Our Lady of Assumption Council in Kerrobert is celebrating its 75th.
In addition to CWL standing committee reports, the diocesan convention included presentations on the diocesan Lay Formation program (see related story), and St. Therese Institute at Bruno, Sask., displays by the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association, Development and Peace, and Universal Church Supplies, as well as mass with Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB, and a banquet.
Those bringing greetings to the delegates included Rev. Richard Meidl, OSB, pastor of parishes at Watrous, Imperial, Liberty and Young; Watrous mayor Ed Collins; Manitou Beach mayor Gerry Worobec; Knights of Columbus district deputy David Schaan; and representatives of a number of other Christian churches in the community. CWL representatives at the diocesan and provincial level also brought greetings, including Shirley Lamoureux, Prince Albert diocesan president; Marilyn Schuck, Regina diocesan dresident; and Jean Reader, Saskatchewan provincial president.