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The Catholic Women’s League of Canada BC & Yukon Provincial Council National theme: One Heart, One Voice, One Mission Provincial theme: Joyfully Serving the Lord

Community Life Communique 1 – Sharon Ciebin   Sept. 4, 2016

But what about you he asked, WHO Do You Say I Am?” (Matthew 8:29)

Greetings to all my dear Sisters in the League

As the newly appointed Community Life Chair, I am truly honored and excited to serve in this position.  First, let me personally thank each of you for your commitment and dedication to The Catholic Women’s League by accepting this standing committee. .As this is my first time on the standing committee, I have been busy doing research on the responsibilities of the role, reading your 2015 Annual Reports and watching Father James Mallon’s presentation to our recent National Convention (more about this later).  It is my belief that this object provides the Key to “Unlocking the Possibilities” (2015 National Convention Theme) both by its Action Plan for what God is calling us to do and the opportunity to live his commandment to Love Your Neighbour as Yourself. This standing committee is the “One Heart” in our National Theme and by taking action defending the dignity and rights of persons, social and economic justice, refugees, immigration and citizenship, Canadian Catholic Organizations for Development and Peace (CCODP) and developing countries we become Missionaries for Christ.

So, to paraphrase, wherever there are people in need of life’s necessities we are called to help.  Imagine, if each of our 130 parish councils, in the Province and Yukon, became active in just one area, how we could change the world.  I am very proud of the work accomplished by 62% of the councils who submitted their annual reports.  The reports reflect that we are financially supporting numerous causes both in Canada and abroad, waging letter writing campaigns and assisting in almost all of the aforementioned areas.

To provide a brief history of myself I am a wife, mother of two children and grandmother to two granddaughters.  I am a retired banker of 32 years.  Originally from N.B., I moved to Kelowna as a new bride in 1974.  During my 25 plus years in the League, I have served as chair of numerous committees on parish and diocesan level.  I continue to serve as the Past President of the Vancouver Diocese.  Answering God’s call to “step out of my comfort zone” has given me the opportunity to grow and become more active in my faith and also knowledge and love for the League.  I have learned that although I am often times afraid of not being perfect, there is nothing I cannot do, with God’s grace.

Every Diocese reported that their Biggest Challenge was not having a chairperson for this committee.  Father Mallon shared a plan for us.  Father asks how we are feeding our members.  He goes on to state that we need to reinforce in our members a “missionary identity”.  We do this by taking action in helping others , which gives members a sense of fulfillment and a true sense of this identity.  Father Mallon advised we need to celebrate our accomplishments.  Father also congratulated us on our Resolutions process.  We have 22 active under Community Life alone, covering such topics as bullying, water in third world countries, Indigenous Women, restorative justice programs for youth and exit strategies for prostituted persons, to name a few.  I encourage you all to view our resolutions and Father Mallon’s motivational presentation, on the National website at www.cwl.ca.

Below I share a few highlights of this committee:

Dignity and Rights of Persons

“It is our responsibility, as Christian women and members of a national organization, to play an active role in opposing discrimination wherever and in whatever form it disappears” (Executive Handbook, page 49)

Human Trafficking – In 2013, the Archdiocese of Vancouver created an Anti-Human Trafficking Committee.  Barbara Dowding, the Vancouver Diocesan Resolution, Community Life Chairs and I, represented the League.  Our goal is to provide information sessions to parishes, universities and other like-minded groups on the inhumanity and slavery of prostitution and human trafficking.  Hundreds of postcards, letters and petitions were sent to MP’s Prime Minister, as well as Premiers and MLA’s.  Our new law, Bill C-36 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, and its effectiveness, will be revisited in 4 years or less.  More public education is required so following the lead of Sweden and the U.S. Sister’s Against Human Trafficking, we will have a billboard and transit shelter campaign advising that “Buying Sex is a Crime” in Canada commencing on Sept. 28th, throughout the lower mainland.  The campaign was made possible by the Vancouver Diocesan C.W.L., BC & Yukon K.O.C., and private sponsors.  To become educated and active in our work, visit the website at “thetraffickedhuman.org”. We are planning secular media coverage on this event on or around Oct. 4th so please watch for this.  Crime Stoppers have added their 1-800# to report situations.  I will attach our poster with my next communique.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – After years of requests from the public, the Government of Canada recently announced they are launching an independent national inquiry.  The inquiry will establish its own office and website.  Contact the inquiry directly to learn how to participate in or work for the inquiry.

Poverty – I recently heard on the news that France became the first country in the world to pass a law requiring supermarkets to donate food that is approaching its expiration date instead of throwing it away.  They must donate the food to local food banks.  What do the supermarkets in our communities do with it?  I believe they put bleach on it so homeless people will not eat it and become sick and throw it in dumpsters.  Do we need to write a resolution or visit the stores and ask?  This could be an awesome outreach activity for councils to become involved in or spearhead.

Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

“CCODP is Canada’s official Catholic overseas development organization, launched by the CCCB.” (Executive Handbook 50)

I am so proud that we are a partner in assisting developing countries. To learn more about this Permanent Fund read the National P & P page 126.  This year, inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si”, CCODP will support two new programs in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan and continue supporting Haiti.  Councils should be encouraged to order the free brochure from National office to learn more about our 1% Program.

As Diocesan leaders, working with your team, you educate, motivate and inspire your members to become active in the needs of their community.  I know from personal experience, women want to make a difference in this world.  May we all discern and take affirmative action, using Saint Theresa as our guide.

I look forward to hearing from you, if I can be of any assistance please contact me.  Please know your provincial team has a League Development Fund and we are eager to assist you as well.

God bless.

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