Archbishop of Winnipeg Richard Gagnon (left) is joined at the head table by CWL provincial president Faith Anderson (at the archbishop’s left) and Archdiocese of Winnipeg CWL president Lori Marks, across the table. (James Buchok photo)
VIRDEN, Man. — Sacred Heart Parish in Virden, Man., hosted the 69th Annual Convention of the Manitoba Provincial Council of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada June 2 - 3, with the theme, “Women Inspired by the Spirit Respond to God’s Call.”
Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon celebrated the liturgy with convention attendees and parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish.
In his homily, Gagnon said the theme for the convention “not only describes something about the Catholic Women’s League itself but serves also as an instruction on how to be Catholic women in the league.”
The archbishop referenced the day’s Gospel reading as Jesus appears before the disciples on Easter night when they were all together behind locked doors. “This in itself indicates that there was a conflict and a fear about being who they were as disciples; we can translate that into our own modern context. Jesus stood among them; this too is useful for us as we recall that ‘where two or more are gathered in his name, he is there among them.’ A reminder that in every gathering and work of the CWL, he is there among the members.
“The Lord’s words, ‘Peace be with you,’ usher in a manifestation of his power when he breathes into them to receive the Holy Spirit so that sins may be forgiven through the ministry of these apostles.”
Gagnon said it is the same when “women who are breathed into or inspired by the Holy Spirit are given power to go forth and witness to Christ before all nations and make disciples for him. Deeds of power accompany the presence of the Holy Spirit in every woman and man who opens their hearts to this divine presence.”
“The mere fact of the active apostolate of the CWL in Canada since June 17, 1920, is a sign that women have responded to God’s call through the Holy Spirit,” said Gagnon. “Your first president, Bellelle Guerin, was a remarkable woman of talent and faith. All this is an extraordinary witness to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit not only in our archdiocese but in Canada from coast to coast. The opening prayer for this Pentecost celebration captures very well what we should be praying for: ‘...we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and, with the divine grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed, fill now once more the hearts of believers.’ ”
Gagnon said “the instruction” contained in the theme for the gathering, “has to do with this convention and every council meeting and every committee that is part of the faith life of the CWL. When Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you,’ he did not use the word ‘peace,’ but rather ‘shalom.’ The peace of God is shalom, the peace of the Holy Spirit is shalom.”
“ ‘Women Inspired by the Spirit, Women Respond to God’s Call,’ has everything to do with this shalom. Every gathering and every deliberation that is undertaken needs to be under the action of the Holy Spirit so that one can respond to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. This means more than simply starting things off with a prayer because that’s what Catholics do, rather to make the listening to and invocation of the Spirit among us, something continuous and part of the faith-life and faith-action of the league. Remember that at the beginning of the encounter between Christ and the apostles the Holy Spirit was given, the shalom was given. He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
“As members of the Catholic Women’s League, you have been and are inspired by the Holy Spirit. The question constantly before you, as it is before all of us, is, ‘Do we respond to this call, not just once, but continually?’ And with regard to being witnesses throughout the world, Paul really does remind us that, ‘No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.’ ”
Rev. Leo Fernandez, pastor of Ste. Rose de Lima Church at Ste. Rose du Lac, Man., and two rural missions, is completing his last term as the Manitoba Catholic Women’s League provincial advisor.