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The Catholic Women’s League of Canada BC & Yukon Provincial Council

Provincial Community Life Communique 2 – Sharon Ciebin    Jan.10, 2017


  JOY is the fruit of Appreciation (Matthew Kelly – Mustard Seeds)

Joy is truly what I feel as I write my 2nd commnique.   I feel profound Joy remembering the women who, by Leading with Courage (new Provincial theme), opened their arms and their hearts and created the League for us.  During Advent Bishop Barron, reminded me of my duty as a follower of Christ to reach out to others.  He shared that the 10th Chapter of Luke’s Gospel shows what Jesus wants his followers to do and how to do it. He stated that we are sent by the Lord to spread his word and do his work.   Margaret Ann ,our new National President shared a very motivating and inspiring message on face book as she announced her new theme (seen above).  To paraphrase Margaret Ann’s message, she asks each of us to become active members in your councils and continue doing corporal and spiritual acts of mercy.  It is no wonder then, that I feel this Joy when considering the many corporal acts of mercy we are called to perform under Community Life.  I apologize for the delay in sending my communique but I was gathering up to date information for use by all councils and this took time.

Social and Economic Justice - The chairperson shall:  encourage members to participate in the work of organizations caring for those in need and be familiar with restorative justice programs/prison ministry

When I think of the word mercy I immediately think of Saint John Paul II and how he forgave the first man who tried to assassinate him, as soon as he was released from the hospital.  My next thoughts are of Pope Francis and how one of his first acts, after becoming Pope, was to visit an Italian Prison.  Pope Francis continually goes and washes the feet of prisoners on Holy Thursday and on a visit to Mexico visited a prison housing 700 inmates, 250 of them women.  Pope Francis told young Mexicans to consider the circumstances of those in prison, to offer assistance and to “dare to dream”.  

The Vancouver Archdiocese has an active Prison Ministry Program and in the fall, I attended a whole day information session.   I was impressed with the number of people in attendance, from all ages, walks of life and religions.  There were existing volunteers, information seekers, and employees/retires from Correction Services of Canada.  Archbishop Michael  asked all of us to show compassion and to walk with our brothers and sisters as they need our help and support to heal and become productive members of society.  His message was confirmed by many offenders who shared how they behave in prison so that they will not miss out on visits and activities of the volunteers.  I was amazed at the large number of people who already visit in our prison system but was most amazed at what opportunities we have to be and bring the face of Christ.   We currently have representation in federal and provincial prisons and detention centres offering many activities such as:  making rosaries – which are then taken and given out to others in Vancouver downtown eastside, the offering of Mass, RCIA, Life Connection Program, etc. etc.   If we are not able to become physically involved there is a financial

need so offenders may gain an education.  Councils could establish a bursary program for this cause.  I have attached a full listing of all the facilities and what is offered at each one.  Please note full training is offered prior to visiting.  You will also see that for those councils outside the Vancouver area, who may not have a prison in their area, the listing provides contact information, as well.  Your support is urgently needed in areas such as half way houses, and working with released offenders.  In Whitehorse the Elizabeth Frey Society would benefit from our support. Attending that workshop taught me why we need to become involved and that by sharing our time and talents, we are a vital piece of the successful rehabilitation of offenders.  I also attach a letter from Father Larry Lynn.  Father Larry’s prison experiences provide insight into how this act of mercy can transform your life.  For more information and to have a guest speaker come to your council, in the Vancouver area, please contact Angela Veters, Prison Ministry Volunteer Coordinator  at aveters@rcav.org - phone 778-982-1353.   For councils around the Province, I am sure someone from Corrections Canada would attend.   

REFUGEES, IMMIGRATION and CITIZENSHIP Canada and the League have a long standing tradition of welcoming new citizens.

We are all aware of the plight of refugees around the world.   One cannot watch the news without seeing the devastation of such places as Syria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and others.   It is very encouraging to note that 41 parishes have already provided a safe haven to 1,800 refugees in our Province.   I have personally been involved in this ministry for 2 years and can share that this has been very transforming.  Working with a team of parishioners we fundraised (goal of $50,000 for two families) located an apartment and transformed it into a beautiful home for their arrival.  We found that people truly want to help they just need the opportunity to do so.  We were offered way more items than we could ever use.   I urge councils to be the catalyst in their parish to sponsor a family.  Working with your Parish Priest, you would hold a parish information session and learn the logistics of sponsoring.  The Vancouver Archdiocese holds a sponsorship agreement with the federal government and provides all of the information/training required.  Your parish would choose the family they wish to sponsor.  At this time, there is an urgent need for people from Pakistan as well as other countries.   Anita Sehn, former Community Life Chair of the Kamloops Diocese has found the Refugee Sponsorship program extremely rewarding as well and I share her comments  -I got involved sponsoring a Syrian refugee family because I felt compelled to by the Holy Spirit. Like so many who watched the horror of what was and still is happening in Syria, and so many refugees having no place to live, I felt something had to be done. Once I said "Yes" to our Lord, things progressed pretty quickly. "Our family" arrived February 23, 2016: a married couple with 3 children, 1 1/2 year old daughter, and 2 sons ages 4 and 6, the 6 year old with cerebral palsy. From the moment we met our family we loved them. It has now been 10 months since their arrival in Canada. There have been so many ups and downs, challenges and successes - too many to list, for both the family and the group of volunteers working with them. We have also experienced many rewards and blessings! We have become their extended family, and them ours. When you let God take control, amazing things can happen.”

For more information on this ministry, visit the Archdiocese of Vancouver and under the Outreach and Services tab on the top right hand side of the page, you will see Refugee Sponsorship Program.  There is a wealth of information there for you.  Please prayerfully consider assisting a family or two in your parish, as Anita says they do become your family.  Your parish priest would contact Diane Chua at the Vancouver Archdiocesan Office at www.rcav.org .  

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women Update

 I have been in contact with Deacon Rennie Nahanee, who is the Coordinator, First Nations Ministry in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.  Deacon Rennie serves on a board in Vancouver who will have the responsibility of working with the National Inquiry.  Their role will be to assist the inquiry with premises in which to hold the hearings.  This is where Deacon Rennie has asked the League to become involved.  Once the inquiry is up and running, we may be requested to provide a facility in which to hold the meetings, as well as provide refreshments.  As you know this commission was created many months ago, and an article in October stated they already had their office in Vancouver established and had hired staff.  To date, Deacon Rennie has had no contact with anyone from the commission and provided me the link below.  I will be updating you as the inquiry moves ahead.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/mmiw-inquiry-low-grades-nwac-1.3922673.

Anti Human Trafficking Ministry Update

The Billboard and Poster Campaign educating the public that Buying Sex is a Crime in Canada was very successful in the greater Vancouver area.  Seventeen transit shelters and billboards were posted, some for 6 – 8 week duration.  They generated a huge amount of dialogue on social media, which is what we were hoping for.   Our campaign also reached the group Defend Dignity in Toronto, whose purpose is to act as a catalyst for individuals and churches to end sexual exploitation in Canada.  They are now organizing a campaign like ours in many cities across Canada.  They will be using our poster so that the message remains unified.  If you wish to see the work they do their website is www.defenddignity.ca .  Archbishop Michael Miller has appointed members to this committee, I and one other diocesan member and one Knight of Columbus member will continue to serve.    I will continue to provide information on our projects.  Please refer to our website for information at www.thetraffickedhuman.org

Please share this information with your councils, so that each may choose an act of mercy and continue to spread God’s word through our works.

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