2018 CWL Diocesan Convention

What you said about the 2018 CWL Diocesan Convention ...

"Attending Conventions is an excellent time for sharing, and talking to different ladies."
"Being part of this convention is an honour and privilege, and uplifting."
"The workshops were well done and current, with knowledgeable presenters."
"Entertainment was superb! Awesome! Excellent! Fabulous! Wonderful!"
"The agenda provided a timely variety of business and learning new things."

Convention Report

by Marlene O'Hanley

We began the Conference with Mass celebrated by Spiritual Director Fr. Alfredo Monacelli (Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Victoria), followed by the enthronement of the Bible and calling to order of the Convention.

The 90 attendees were then given a glimpse into the possible future of CWL. 

A convention without an endless succession of reports being read seemed impossible—ut not one report was read! Rather, CWL Executives listened to what members said in their annual reports and evaluations at interim meetings, and at registration each member received a Convention package containing every report. We were informed that we could read the reports at our leisure. 

The focus of the meeting was: Who are we? As each Diocesan executive or chairperson came forward the question they were asked to respond to was “How has CWL changed you?” As each one spoke, a common thread developed. The CWL was there for each one at a vulnerable time in their life, reaching out as a quiet listener, or lending a helping hand when it was most needed. It was a very moving experience to feel the calm in the room as we listened. We had time later to interact with the others at each table, realizing we all felt that bond of friendship and support drawing us back into the fold through good times and bad. We were challenged to ask every member in our Council to think about how they would respond if asked that very question. We realized the strength and support each CWL sister brings to the table.

Our first workshop on Thursday morning dealt with Mental Health: Challenges and Solutions, moderated by Moira King. The speakers talked about the stigma surrounding these challenges and our impulse to immediately put these people in a ‘box’. Each saw education as paramount in recognizing that mental health is a diagnosis, just like physical diagnoses such as cancer. We don’t wait for intervention at Stage 4 in the latter, and we should not treat mental health any differently.

On Thursday afternoon Barbara Dowding, National CWL Past President, led us in a fully interactive workshop on Strategic Planning: a five-year plan looking toward the future of CWL based on Faith, Service, and Social Justice. The three stages are: Think – Plan – Manage.

The initial, or Think stage is almost complete, using information from annual reporting, which included information from CWL members about what they would like to see happen. They listened to the members and set out questions for us to give feedback as groups.

The Plan stage will begin soon. Barbara encouraged every member to leave the old adage of “We have always done it this way” behind, and embrace change. What would we like for our Councils? How can we make CWL a group people would be excited to join?

The Banquet was terrific. It began with judging of the costumes as Councils were asked to dress as their favorite musical character. More than half of the 120 people at the banquet came in every outfit imaginable—making it hard for Fr. Monacelli, Barb Dowding and myself to pick four of the best. In our opinion, everyone was a Winner! The food was delicious and after we were all stuffed and relaxed we were entertained by 40 members of a musical and theater group called the Four Seasons singing and acting a variety of pieces, and ending the performance with three exerpts from Joseph and His Coat of Many Colours to perfection. The youngest was 10, with the age ranging to late teens. What talent!!!

Three Resolutions were brought forward by Our Lady of the Rosary CWL, all related to Euthanasia/ Assisted Suicide. Anne Devlin spoke of the challenges many hospice units and faith-based hospitals are facing under the legislation at the present time. We will be kept up to date as these Resolutions move on their long journey.

Our Friday morning workshop brought us into the digital world of online fraud and scams presented by a vibrant Brandon Laur from The White Hatters group. His key point throughout was “password-protect your emails” as they are linked to almost everything one does in the digital world. He gave us hints of what to look for when we sit wondering who that message could be from! He reminded us we are all one click away from going awry in this fast-paced cyber world.

Barbara Dowding ended off the workshops with highlights from Pope Francis – A Call to Holiness. She touched on ideas to pique our interest in reading it cover to cover, and talked about the role of Mary in our faith. She reminded us that we are all saints in the making, and only one step away from sainthood! In Rejoice and Be Glad the Pope asks us to think of who we are and where we are in faith. It means acting with mercy and peace. Barbara outlined eight qualities for us to think of as we read through the Pope’s work to make a difference. These words are Perseverance, Patience, Meekness, Boldness (impulse to evangelize), Passion (courage to change), Community (journey side by side with others), and Prayer and Discernment (paying attention to the Holy Spirit in our lives). She challenged us to move forward in the CWL with confidence and optimism.

More than 100 people attended the Eucharistic Celebration celebrated by Bishop Gary Gordon to end the Convention. Sharon was honoured to be asked to serve as one of the altar servers. After the installation of officers of the new Victoria Diocesan CWL, the Bishop again touched on the highlights of the Pope’s works. He also spoke of the need for priests throughout all the Diocese, as any priest who shows even a hint of interest to go to the Yukon is gladly sent. He told us of one area in the north who were able to have the Easter celebration for the first time in more than 10 years. He reported that the majority of parishes in the Victoria area will have some Sundays without a priest throughout the summer, and it is time for us to embrace change in what the future holds for us all.

It was a Convention full of ideas for change as the future unfolds for us all. Our Council did extremely well with five of the eight present winning a door prize. We left feeling energized to embrace the future in CWL with optimism.

Slideshow created by Gerry Heywood