Diocesan CWL convention 2024 held in Leader, SK: two resolutions address support for SIS clients

At the 88th Annual Convention of the Saskatoon Diocesan CWL, members of the executive renewed their commitment during a re-installation prayer led by Spiritual Advisor Fr. John Abgan-Bonsu and past-president Audrey Zimmerman. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Diocesan CWL President Marion Laroque (left) presents a certificate of merit to the Leader, SK CWL council for hosting the 2024 diocesan convention, accepted by Little Flower CWL President Carolyn Lepage. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL) members from across the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon held their 88th diocesan convention April 22, 2024 at the Little Flower Parish, Leader, SK.

Reports, future plans, displays, information, annual business and prayer were all part of the diocesan convention held on Earth Day, with members exploring the CWL national theme “Here I am Lord, Send Me.”

Two resolutions related to poverty were also passed during the day-long meeting, to be forwarded on to the provincial CWL convention for consideration. The resolutions are for the provincial CWL to urge the Saskatchewan provincial government to increase the exemption of monthly income earned to Saskatoon Income Support (SIS) clients, and to re-instate direct payments to landlords and utility companies for SIS clients. The two resolutions will be considered at the provincial convention June 2-3 in North Battleford.

Diane Coté, executive member for social justice (at podium), spoke to the resolutions that were passed at the convention, related to supports for Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) clients. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

The day opened with a welcome from the Little Flower CWL President Carolyn Lepage, and a land acknowledgment by diocesan CWL President Marion Laroque, before a number of dignitaries and local leaders brought greetings.

Little Flower CWL spiritual advisor and parish pastor Fr. Prince Sarpong welcomed members and special guests to the “place that has the best of cooks” and explained the origin of the parish name “Little Flower” as a description of patron St. Therese of Lisieux.

“She used this name to talk about herself,” he said. “Her spirituality is centred around the spirituality of the ‘Little Way’ … and using little things in getting closer to Jesus Christ.” This spirit of humility and simplicity is also found in the CWL, he said. “Today as you come into this beautiful building, we also celebrate the Earth Day, and you see these beautiful flowers around here… we invite all of you here into Little Flower Catholic Church.” Even the church building is designed in the shape of a flower, he noted.

Prince Albert Diocesan CWL President Shirley Lamoureux brought greetings, reporting on their recent 100th anniversary celebrations. Regina Diocesan CWL President Janette Rieger also brought greetings to the Saskatoon diocesan convention on behalf of 53 CWL councils in the Regina archdiocese, saying “may the Holy Spirit follow in footsteps of Isaiah when he said ‘here I am Lord, send me.’”

National CWL Convention update

Melanie Fauchoux, a member of the organizing committee for the National CWL Convention to be held in Saskatoon in August, provided an update. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Cahtolic Saskatoon News)

Melanie Fauchoux provided an update about the National CWL Convention that will be hosted in Saskatoon Aug. 11-14, 2024. “A huge thank you to everyone who answered our call to make bags and dishcloths and centrepieces. We have had a great outpouring of support,” she said, adding that contributions are still welcome.

She reported that the convention agenda will include a resolutions dialogue, a presentation about the Synod on Synodality by national CWL spiritual advisor Bishop Wayne Lobsinger and Honorary CWL Life Member Barb Dowding, a session on the Doctrine of Discovery by Regina Archbishop Donald Bolen, and a reflection on the national theme “Here I Am Lord, Send Me,” by author and speaker Leah Perrault. There will be a range of reports, information sessions, as well as break-out sessions on a range of topics, Mass every day, social events and excursions, she added, noting the 2024 national convention coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Prince Albert diocese, which is helping to organize the event. “It won’t be in Saskatoon again for another 20 years,” she noted, encouraging members to attend, and if possible, to volunteer.

President’s report

President Marion Laroque delivered her report, citing council annual reports from across the diocese, that included success and challenges. Councils are engaged in a range of activities, projects, and initiatives, including supporting parishes both with events and financially, truth and reconciliation awareness, collections for the CWL Clothing Depot, pro-life activities, human trafficking awareness, and ecumenical events.

“Human trafficking awareness continued in 2024, with the provincial government declaring Feb. 22, 2024 Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the request of Saskatoon diocesan executive. The CWL was present at outdoor stations of the cross on Good Friday in Saskatoon; three members read a reflection on human trafficking.”

She also spoke about the need for the CWL to continue to advocate to end homelessness, including through the resolutions that would be presented (and passed) later that day.

Filling executive positions on local CWL councils, like recruiting new members, is most successful with a “personal touch,” she noted.

“Our theme – ‘Here I am, Lord, Send Me’ – is both a challenge to be willing to be sent and a promise that He is with us in our work for God and Country,” Laroque concluded.

Provincial President Connie Chrichton also delivered a report to the convention, reviewing challenges and accomplishments of the League across the province.

Bishop’s message at Mass

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at Mass with several priests from across the diocese, including diocesan CWL spiritual advisor Fr. John Abban-Bonsu and provincial CWL spiritual advisor Fr. Francis Hengen.

“I thank you for your desire to be undivided in following Christ and the mission of the Church,” Hagemoen told the assembled CWL members. “I have really come to appreciate more and more the role of the Catholic Women’s League in our world of today.”

Bishop Mark Hagemoen presided at Mass during the Diocesan CWL Convention April 22 in Leader, SK. (Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

“As a bishop, I am so thankful for your voice,” Hagemoen said, noting in particular the CWL’s prophetic work on the issue of human trafficking, a moral and social issue that is a challenge in our culture. “Women on some of thsee issues speak louder than I can.”

He also cited the League’s faithfulness to a range of such issues: the spectrum of respect for life, Indigenous reconciliation, spiritual and faith formation, and the development of leaders.

“Finally, I highlight Earth Day: we are in relationship with the land, it is a God-given gift and we need to honor that and we need to reflect on what that relationship means, and calls forth: and yes there is conversion that is needed… we can’t see things as mere instruments of our own selfish ends. We have to honour and steward well these gifts of God.”

Urging “stay very true and faithful to your mission,” in walking ahead, with and behind God’s people, the bishop added: “God bless you in discerning the things that need to grow or change or develop to help the mission of the League.”

Reports continue

Diocesan CWL spiritual advisor Fr. John Abban-Bonsu, pastor of parishes at Kindersley, Eston, Eatonia, and Marengo, also brought a message to the convention, as did provincial spiritual advisor Fr. Francis Hengen.

Reports continued throughout the day, including financial information from the diocesan treasurer Yvonne Wiesner, and reports from executive members Wendy deSa (faith), Kathy Jones (service), Diane Coté (social justice), Audrey Zimmerman (past president), Pat Shevchenko (CWL Clothing Depot), and Florence Sirman (Our Lady of Grace Region).

Acknowledging Earth Day, executive member Kathy Jones shared a video message from Fanterra Fisher-Belak of Unity, SK, speaking about the vital role of pollinators, and how to plant a garden that encourages butterflies and bees. Her garden is one of a national network of certified butterfly-friendly gardens throughout Canada.

(Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

A workshop about the national theme  “Here I am Lord, Send Me” was presented by diocesan executive members Kathy Jones and Wendy deSa, including a focus on mental health and time for discussion about where members envision being “sent.”

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Kiply Lukan Yaworski is the communications coordinator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon – rcdos.ca