Different Churches; Similar Paths

Catholic Womens League Calgary 2019

Barbara Davison, Strathmore AB, represented the United Church Women at the Catholic Women’s League (CWL)’s Annual Convention in Calgary last month. She found while our churches are different, we are on similar paths towards nature conservation. Notable Quote: “If we are diligent in seeking God, slowly and sincerely we will become better people.”

The 99th Annual Convention of the National CWL was held at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary in August. As the National UCW President, Beulah Haley from Newfoundland, was unable to attend, she asked me to attend in her place. I was very warmly welcomed, and I had a member of the Hospitality group assigned to meet and take care of me. The host made sure that I had someone to go to lunch with and arranged rides back to my accommodation each evening.

The meeting began on 19th August, and just as it was being constituted, there was an interruption by the White Hatters of the Calgary International Airport, where all the Executive of the CWL were “White Hatted.” Being a White Hatter until a few years ago, I thought this was wonderful. All the Provinces were represented, plus representation from the Military!
Most of the first day involved Reports from the Executive Director, Spiritual Development Chair, Organization Chair, Christian Family Life Chair were given, also quite a review on the Resolutions process. The discussion was quite animated. ALL resolutions from this meeting are sent to the Federal Government to inform them what the CWL is working on.
The Commissioning of Life Members took place, and it was interesting to find out that Life Memberships are only given if a person has had a position “all the way up the ladder” of the organization. I think that most of the ladies being commissioned at this event had reached the position of “Province Chairs.” Life Memberships in the UCW are given out on the recognition of the person and all the work they have done promoting the values of the UCW, whether you have been a member for one year or fifty years.

There were two Breakout sessions, and I attended one on Carbon Conversation and the other on putting into practice methods of reducing our carbon footprint. The speaker was Marilou LeGeyt, Outreach Ministries Coordinator, Catholic Pastoral Centre – Calgary Diocese. She informed the group that Pope Paul was a proponent of the “Carbon Conversation,” which is a group that began in Scotland in the 1990s. Information about this group can be found online. I understand that this is not just a Catholic group.

The second breakout session I attended was “Living Laudato Si: Practical Tools on How we can care for Our Common Home”. This was presented by Dr. Peter Baltutis, Assistant Professor of History and Catholic Studies, St. Mary’s University, Calgary. This year the CWL is concentrating on conservation of Water, and that we can all do our part to conserve water and other parts of our Common Home (Earth). I found it interesting when he said “Carbon Footprint is a unit of measurement, just as a calorie (which we all hear about) is also a unit of measurement. How we live our lives, especially in North America, emits a higher carbon footprint, than do underdeveloped countries. Information was also given on how to cut down on waste, use less plastic, and instead of just Three R’s, there are another two to make five: Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Rot.
If you get a chance to listen to either of these speakers, it will be well worth the listening.

The main speaker was Sister Dorothy Ederer from the United States. Sister Dorothy asked: “What is our Common Home?” We care for our homeland, our homes and our hearts. We were shown videos of various areas and meditation videos. With the topic of water, it was noted that frequently older buildings have lead pipes, which are poisonous, and usually only found in the homes where the poor people live. Sister Dorothy then asked, “How are you caring for the poor?” Jesus told us to care for our poor, are we carrying out this request? She also asked us what kind of values do we want to leave for our children? Even the smallest kindness to our poor is important. It is also important to always stay humble and kind. One quote I liked was – “If we are diligent in seeking God, slowly and sincerely we will become better people.”

Afterwards, I copied down a few of the things that caught my attention:

  • Find your passion
  • Encourage young people to believe in themselves
  • God judges us on how we live, not on how we die.
  • If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.
  • If there is a need and people know that need, it would be filled.
  • Reconciliation: to experience the mercy of God, not the punishment of man.
  • Forgiveness: you need to forgive yourself – from your heart

I thought the above quotes were meaningful and applied to everyone, not just the CWL.

The structure of the CWL is changing, and they have a five-year plan on the changes to take place. Each step of the way is laid out, and each step has a leader and committee to implement the plans.

After speaking with the CWL and other national women presidents in attendance (the Presbyterian Church (WA) President and the National Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League President), I find that we are all working for the same conservation outcome. At times we work differently, at other times we work on the same page. It was wonderful to see that women everywhere will and can work together for the good of all.

The CWL Convention was a wonderful experience and was well work attending. The next one will be held in Montreal in 2020 and will be the 100th meeting.

Submitted for the National UCW
Barbara Davison – Past President, ANW Conference UCW