The Catholic Women’s League of Canada is many things to many people: 1) A sisterhood of support and understanding, 2) A way to act on important social justice issues, 3) An opportunity to be of service to your community, to the country and to God, and 4) A chance to live your faith with those who share it.
We will be celebrating our council’s 100th anniversary in September! Please visit this site weekly. We will feature a short historical item from each decade.
For more information, please contact Inez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-347-7666.
Please take a look at the names of the women who held positions when St. Finnan’s CWL was first formed in 1921. You may recognize some last names. You may recognize a relative of someone you know today.
President: Mrs. Duncan A. Macdonald
First Vice-President: Mrs. McArthur
Second Vice-President: Mrs. J. V. Chisolm
Third Vice-President: Mrs. E.J. A. McDonald
Recording and Corresponding Secretary: Mrs. F. T. Costello
Treasurer: Mrs. A. W. McMillan
Councilors: Mrs. J.A. Cameron, Mrs. Angus McKinnon, Mrs. Dan J. McDonald, Mrs. Ranald J. Kennedy, Miss M. Gauthier, Mrs. D. O’Brien, Mrs. Dougald Cameron, Mrs. Rory McCormick, Mrs. D.D. McPhee, Miss Christy Kennedy, Miss Belle McDougald and Mrs. A.J.A. McDonald
Annual General Meeting. A highlight from that annual meeting was Father Foley’s “impressive talk which commended the League on their work during 1927. He encouraged each member to work away for social betterment and to put into that work sincerity, truth and purpose. Above all, he urged a love for the local poor and a combination of the two great loves, love of God and love of neighbour. He strongly stressed the spiritual side of society’s needs while Rev. J.J. McDonald spoke of the temporal needs. He suggested that rather than be a membership of 92, it should be a parish membership—that every lady belonging to St. Finnan’s should be actively engaged in the work of the League.” Perhaps you’ve heard that before?
The sixth annual convention of the Alexandria Diocesan subdivision of the Catholic Women’s League was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall, Alexandria. Over 100 women attended. Bishop Couturier addressed the group and he spoke of the objects of the League stressing that the CWL was not a religious society, but organized by Roman Catholic Women for social and national purposes. The society carries out the principles of community life. Mrs. M. J. Lyons, national president from Ottawa spoke about representing a body of 50,000 women banded together under the motto “For God and Country”. She was delighted to be in Alexandria and to have visited one of the oldest churches in Canada, the historic monument In St. Raphael’s.
The 13th annual Diocesan Convention was held in Alexandria Oct. 27, 1937. Rev. Ewen J. MacDonald, Rector of St. Finnan’s, remarked that the passing years have not dimmed but rather intensified his appreciation of the kindness of the CWL in England and France. Now he could speak of the charity, zeal and devotion to Catholic principles which the Catholic women invariably manifested in their work in the Alexandria diocese.
Welcome to the summary of the 1940’s CWL activity in the Ottawa, Alexandria-Cornwall area. Unfortunately the archives of St. Finnan’s CWL activities and minutes are missing. The editors surmise as most of the country was affected by so many men going off to war and so many women working on the farms, in factories and elsewhere while still running households, that meetings may have been minimal or non-existent.
All across Canada CWL members sewed pyjamas, knit socks, raised money for the war effort. The Red Cross appealed to women to help by making quilts in the 1930’s. While not a specific CWL story, the editors imagine that local CWL women were involved in producing some of the 25,000 quilts Canada sent to England and Europe for the relief effort led by the Red Cross.
The following info was gleaned from a newspaper report of the 1945 Annual Diocesan convention in Ottawa. The Annual Diocesan convention in Ottawa in 1945 revealed that “financial aid was given to the CWL of England for help on their work among civilian war victims for the Armed Services and rehabilitation.”
“61 ditty bags were completed for the Merchant Marine and Navy by sub-divisions. A ditty bag was a small hand-sewn bag that ‘would usually contain these treasures: razor, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, handkerchief, warm hand-knit socks, writing paper and envelopes and maybe some gum or tobacco.’ These ditty bags were distributed through the Sailor’s Club of Montreal along with $427.50. Cigarettes from many sub-divisions were also sent for the armed forces.
The “Anti-Tuberculosis Seals Sale”, which started in the 1930’s continued into the 40’s and CWL members worked selling the seals to find a cure. As well they supported the Poppy Day Campaign and aided the St. Vincent de Paul society, visited the sick in hospital, collected clothes for war-torn peoples of Europe.”
Hmmm? When did local CWL members have the luxury of time to attend a meeting or write out minutes? They probably didn’t. They were too busy living the League Prayer “sharing with people at home and abroad the good things God has given us.”
At the end of the 1940’s many people, including the CWL, sought change and purpose. There was a renewed energetic buzz to life.
On March 25, 1949 Fr. Dan Macdonald’s dream of founding a Canadian missionary congregation was realized. Our Lady’s Missionaries founded right here in Alexandria had CWL support from day one. Mrs. Dorothy Donihee, CWL president from Cornwall, was a driving force appealing to National for financial support for the congregation. The National Executive promised at least $5000 annually for 5 years! That was in 1950 when $5000 went pretty far. Bishop Cody, as National Director of the CWL, encouraged financial support for the sisters for many years.
A recent conversation with Our Lady’s Missionaries own Sr. Mary Gauthier who grew up on the 4th of Kenyon confirmed that the local CWL support was invaluable. When a woman “received the habit, the CWL would put on a banquet for her, her family and friends in Alexander Hall. Many sales of cookies and cakes raised funds.” A banquet for 2 sisters and their families cost $125.00. The profits from selling Mother’s Day roses which still go to Our Lady’s Missionaries began in 1950. (Our CWL had been selling Mother’s Day roses since at least 1942 and giving the proceeds to Cornwall’s Nazareth House which burned in 1950.) When a sister was headed to an overseas assignment, our CWL gave her $ 25.00.
Through the 50’s other projects that St. Finnan’s CWL focused on included Spiritual Lay retreats (3 days long), Catholic Action Study, Social Action (e.g. sending $92.18 to Hungarian Relief after a collection at mass), Citizenship and immigration concerns, Press and Publicity. Most of the CWL annual Diocesan meetings merited pictures and lengthy articles in the newspaper. Girl Guide groups were led by CWL. Meetings were still held in members’ homes.
Enid MacDonald was president in 1953 and her annual report told of the council’s involvement collecting woolens for blankets and making over $800 at the blanket booth at the parish social. The council sent Christmas cheer baskets to all needy local families and members assisted in the Campaign for the Blind and the Red Cross. Also in 1953, an inroad to the national government listening to CWL concerns: Mrs. Fred Drake, from National, presented a brief to the special senate committee on salacious literature on the part of promoters to make money. “A nation,” she said, “is only as good as its women.” That’s heavy duty pressure, here.
Christena Mcdonald was president in 1954 when she attended the Diocesan convention in Glen Nevis.
St. Finnan’s CWL membership swelled to 105 in the late 1950’s. There were 63 honorary members consisting of nuns and clergy. In 1957 Mrs. Catherine LeRoux was president. In her annual report she mentioned that funds of $501.07 were raised for scholarships, Holy Father funds, Immigration funds, Bishop Brodeur’s Catechetical fund. In 1958, Mrs. Lloyd McHugh was president and in 1959, St. Finnan’s council sent their final payment of $200 to complete a pledge made in 1955 of $1000 to Hotel Dieu Hospital. Room 511 on the maternity floor bore a CWL plaque for that donation.
CWL in the 60’s: “beyond the backyard”
The minutes of St. Finnan’s CWL through the 60’s is packed with examples of community involvement, prayerful liturgies and retreats at Our Lady of Fatima, annual financial donations and a definite foray into the public eye.
Meetings continued to be at members’ homes to foster a social aspect to their work. The spiritual advisor attended, led in prayers and gave guidance. The minutes for the 1960’s were particularly well-kept. In them, the editors noted several women’s names taking on convenorships one after another, growing in CWL spirit and dedication. One such recurring name is Mrs. Jack Reid (Millie Reid). Millie was president in 1962. After her stint as president, did she resign herself to a back burner? Absolutely not! We found her reporting for Radio, TV and Films (a convenership then) creating a movie guide. Fr. MacPhail said he would publish her guide in the weekly bulletin. She took on the Spiritual Development Convenership. Then as Social Action Convener, she canvassed for the March of Dimes, The CNIB, was in charge of the Sacred Heart Magazine subscriptions to name a bit of what she did. (Please note, that Millie Reid is 101 years young and still proud to be a CWL member.)
One year, when asked by Mayor Simon to volunteer at the park on July 1, for Canada Day festivities, the CWL accepted and ran a booth. They did this for years. Once it featured teddy bears. The CWL set up a clothing bank at Alexandria Hall for needy children, canvassed the town for the building of a crippled children’s hospital in Toronto, assisted the Lion’s Club in filling baskets for the needy at Christmas. In 1963 under Immigration and Citizenship the women volunteered 350 hours serving at polio, blood donor and TB clinics, March of Dimes, Muscular Dystrophy, Junior Hockey and Board of Trade activities. It seems that the CWL in everyone’s mind in the community stands for St. Finnan’s parish when they need volunteers. In all the community activities they call on the Church on the Hill, Sacre Coeur and CWL.
Annual Diocesan Meetings featured spirituality, retreats, promoting a Catholic upbringing for children, Catholic literature in the home. Mrs. Anna Margaret MacDonald from St. Raphael’s as Diocesan president led a panel discussion on promoting vocations in children.
Moving on to National in the 1960’s: Mrs. Dorothy Donihee, from the Cornwall CWL sub-division of the Diocese of Alexandria once said about the impact of CWL “…any thinking woman knows there is more to the world than her own backyard”. In 1967 St. Finnan’s CWL Legislation convener Hilda McDougall urged members to write letters to Mr. Pearson asking him not to pass the abortion act in parliament. This mirrors similar requests by many parish councils across the country. National President Mrs. Dorothy Donihee’s own brief against liberalizing the present abortion act was presented to then Justice Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the same year.
National President, Mrs. Donihee said in an interview “The great benefit of belonging to a national organization is in its woman power. When we want to make a point to the federal government we have the backing of 163,000 women.” That was the 1960’s for St. Finnan’s Council: Involvement is all aspects that could improve life for citizens– from the backyard to the federal government.
CWL History the 1970’s:
In 1967, the National CWL donated $100,000 to the Vanier Institute of the Family in Canada’s Centennial year. (Notice how this National initiative influenced much of the focus of CWL work in our area in the 70’s)
Did you know
that most of the Alexandria Diocesan CWL meetings often had 100 women from parish councils attending?
that most Diocesan meetings featured workshops, talks and instruction for its members?
that almost every Diocesan meeting was written up in the local newspapers and often with photos of the speaker, host and spiritual director? (We saw Sandra Lawson, Madeleine MacDonald, and others.)
that every parish council hosted a Diocesan meeting?
that Spiritual Advisors from most parish councils attended as well as the Diocesan Spiritual Advisor?
that the 70’s focused on the family and all its members, starting with the study in 1971 with the status in church, in society and the legal rights of women?
that there was a workshop on youth and vocations?
that in 1972 Diocesan hosted a Family Life panel called “Aged in the Family of Man”?
that in 1972 at the Ontario Provincial Convention, Archbishop of Ottawa, Fr. Joseph A. Plourde spoke about the plight of the family?
that in 1973 The Dignity of the Handicapped was featured at a Diocesan council meeting?
that in 1974, PRO-LIFE membership was encouraged to every woman of St. Finnan’s Council?
that in 1971 AND in 1974 $1000.00 was given to Sr. Mae Janet MacDonell of St. Raphael’s from Diocesan to help with her work among the poorest in Brazil?
that cans for the “penny-a-day” drive raised funds firstly for Sr. Simone Lefebvre’s mission work in White Dog Indian Reserve and later to help set up a library in Shalom house?
that through the 70’s volunteers of St. Finnan’s council conducted Bingo at the Nursing Home every Tuesday?
that a child was adopted in Peru and $120 was sent to pay for education each year?
that hymn books were purchased in 1979 and put in the pews at St. Finnan’s hoping parishioners would be encouraged to sing? Hmm. Maybe the congregation needed to be led by someone at the pulpit.
that we continued to sell Mother’s Day roses in support of Our Lady’s Missionaries and that Millie Reid was particularly thanked in Madeleine MacDonald’s annual report for making all the roses in 1977 and 1978?
that the CWL maintained its panda bear booth at the park for the July 1 celebrations?
that there are at least a hundred more occasions where the CWL made a difference in family life in the 1970’s?
that Diocesan Spiritual Director, Fr. J. R. Bougie in his report at the annual meeting in 1979 said
“We observe annually the months of cancer, leprosy, heart, lungs, etc.,the week of education, the international day of prayer, etc. This new kind of modern liturgical cycle is an indication that some great and urgent causes…cannot be promoted by “poor little me” but need ASSOCIATION made of sharing, cooperation and dialogue. So it is with the Catholic Women’s League. Each year is the year of the CWL. So is each month, week, day. Because each day, each week, month and year the CWL acknowledges that their great aims must be brought into actuality….Active participation is not optional. One isolated person cannot feed the poor of the world but if two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus He will be with them.” Their efforts will be multiplied.
History 1980’s St. Finnan’s CWL has a good decade.
Have readers noticed by now that indeed the parish CWL meetings were not merely an excuse for a social night out, but an evening each month with a purpose to remain informed on current CWL endeavours? The gathering fostered relationships based on common Catholic values and St. Finnan’s members joined readily to work in many of the newly named convenerships.
As all histories evolve so did the CWL. Many of the early convenerships were either combined, renamed or newly created. The decade of the 80’s proved to be a decade where St. Finnan’s CWL was quite visibly active in the church and community. Some things stayed the same. Some things changed. We aim to focus around town for this decade.
Typical activities continued like that of bake sales, Christmas and birthday parties and weekly bingo at Villa Fatima, collecting of old eye-glasses, providing scholarships, attending retreats. The Panda Booth on July 1st was a great attraction and it raised substantial funds for CWL . Many women worked at the booth. Throughout the monthly minutes Mrs. Helen Kaufmann was thanked for her regular donations of hand-knit afghans for the raffles held twice a year to raise funds. One time $450 was given to Msgr. MacDougald to buy vestments. Another time $1000 was donated to the church. Madeleine MacDonald mentioned Millie Reid in her annual report as having made the Mother’s Day roses by herself for two years running. Of course those funds went to Our Lady’s Missionaries. Other funds like $120 supported a child in Peru each year or went to Moreau House in Cornwall. Newer recipients included the 4-H club, Parent Relief, Birthright, Families for Children (an orphanage in Bangladesh and surrounding areas) Coalition for Life, Crucifixes to Newly-weds.
There were trips to the shrine at Rigaud as well as St. Joseph’s Oratory, participation in eight study sessions on women in the church at Alexander Hall to name a few specific faith experiences.
Gertrude McDonald urged leadership course to help people learn to use their God-given talents. A day long workshop was held in Cornwall for all to learn what their convenerships entailed. Many members joined Pro-Life. From Elsie MacLean’s annual report in 1989: “Although there was no Community Life convener, members did follow through the convenership by being involved in community projects, Glengarry Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Meals-on-wheels, Hospital pastoral care program, municipal and federal politics” In 1987 St. Finnan’s hosted its first World Day of Prayer.
One convener organized parishioners to bring up the gifts at the Offertory at each Sunday Mass. This continued right up until 2017. There was a request made to the CWL for at least 2 people to help in the sacristy. CWL members, Madeleine MacDonald and Gwen Morris served on the Parish Council.
Implication in Alexander School continued and Ann MacPhee took charge of the CWL-sponsored public speaking contests as well as provided forms for graduating high school students to apply for the CWL scholarship.
A CWL dinner held every two years at the Priests Mill featured Mrs. Donihee as speaker who spoke on “Memories and the Elderly”. A special presentation was made to past-president Gertrude MacDonald for her more than 30 years dedicated to the work of the CWL. Sandra Lawson introduced Gertie and said ’we all call on her for advice and assistance at all times.” She received a certificate, a marble paper weight and the Maple Leaf Service Pin.
At another time both Marion MacDonald and Enid McDonald were also awarded Maple Service Leaf Pins for their many long years of service.
This week’s account includes just a few highlights of St. Finnan’s CWL in the 1990’s. Much of what the good members did through 80 years influenced what the members worked for in the 90’s. So, rather than repeat, this text aims to focus on the meeting and how critical it is to the functioning of a vibrant CWL.
From the first meeting in 1921 until the end of the 80’s meetings were held in members’ homes. Women offered their homes and consequently were responsible for the refreshments.
The monthly schedule was planned at the first meeting of the new year. Members chose a month in which to host.
The Spiritual Advisor attended the first meeting and successive advisors attended each meeting leading prayers and offering spiritual advice. In the 1990’s, Fr. Cameron began to say Mass at 7:30 pm and the meetings followed at 8:00pm in the winter chapel room, now called, the Bishop MacDonell Room.
The format of the meeting from the start through the 1990’s with its parliamentary procedures and keeping of minutes provided a structure which kept the CWL functioning as a large group. Rules were followed and members respected each convener when she gave her report or brought up a topic for discussion. The convener was not the sole person responsible for the convenership. Members were expected to pitch in and help whenever possible. The attitude then was that no one was alone in completing a task.
In the 90’s St. Finnan’s CWL was fortunate to have “Sr. Kathryn Cameron and the Sisters of The Holy Cross serve as Spiritual Development Conveners” bringing prayers and meditations enriching members’ lives. Incidentally, the CWL cannot exist without its spiritual dimension calling women to grow in faith with each other. The corporal works of mercy are secondary to the CWL.
In the 1990’s membership was still strong though there were a few years where it waned. To attract members to meetings, a film or a speaker was often featured. For example, Rachel Conway, Millie Reid and others who went to Medjugorje or Israel showed slides and/or recounted their experiences. Jean Shago and Anna McBean spoke of the National convention held in Niagara Falls in 1998.
The necessary annual meeting of 1998 with its reports was documented in the minutes. Rachel Conway, Spiritual Development Convener gave her report ”Spiritual Growth of the Members”– how we study Catholic teachings, the role of women in the church, evangelization and mission assistance. Others who gave reports were: Treasurer: Sandra MacKinnon, Organization: Shirley Campbell. Community Life: Marilyn Lajoie, Communications: Hazel MacDonald, Education: Hilda McDougall, Christian Family Life: Denise Green. Such reports are essential to maintaining the League and fostering its ideals. It keeps the League a viable organization not to be confused with a club for women.
In 1999 heading into the millennium, our President was Gwen Morris, Vice-president: Vivian Gregory, treasurer: Ina O’Brien. St. Finnan’s hosted the Diocesan Convention in May 1999 with Ina O’Brien, Theresa Lemieux, Vivian Gregory, Hazel MacDonald and Sandra MacKinnon on the committee. These women led St. Finnan’s CWL into the turn of the century and many changes.
A few particular highlights of the CWL in the 1990’s that you might remember:
In September 1990, there were 49 new members bringing the total to 157!
The W.R.A.P. campaign asked everyone including public officials to wear a white ribbon for a week to emphasize the fight against pornography.
In 1994 at 94 years old Mrs. Marie McLeister, an original member of St. Finnan’s CWL, celebrated 72 years as a member.
On October 13, 1994 His Grace Archbishop Thomas Winning from Glasgow, Scotland celebrated Mass at St. Finnan’s. He commented in his sermon that it had been 200 years since the Highlanders had brought Catholicism to the area. It was the delight of the CWL to prepare a luncheon for all who attended.
Co-incidentally, the closing of the Monastery of the Sisters of Precious Blood was the same day. The CWL presented them with a parting gift and thanked them for their presence here.
In 1995 membership dues increased 5$ from $ 10 to $15 which caused a decrease in membership.
Perhaps as a result of that, the Fieldworker’s Program was introduced by Jean Shago. It featured 3 CWL members who would travel to parish councils in the diocese to foster new membership and reenergize its older members.
In 1995, St. Finnan’s CWL extended Congratulations to Aline Barbara, a CWL member, who was 1 of 12 receiving the Ontario Community Action Award by the Lieutenant Governor for life-long work with the mentally challenged in the area.
In 1998, St. Catharine’s Ontario CWL sent $500.00 to St. Finnan’s CWL to help us help others after the ice storm.
In 1999 Project GROW to help members in their spiritual life was held at St. Raphael’s.
The strong women of faith that brought St. Finnan’s CWL into the 21st century left a legacy of hard-working, community-minded, faith-filled women never tiring of working for others while keeping a vigilant eye on their faith development.
Focus on youth: From 1999 to 2011 The Journey to the Father for youth was held on St. Raphael’s grounds and our CWL was involved every year in serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, praying for the attendees, keeping the Adoration chapel open right through the night, making substantial monetary donations to the event, supporting parish youth that wanted to attend, working alongside other CWL women from other parishes. Donations also went to World Youth Day. Women served a meal or two at Life Teen events. Anna McBean headed the shoeboxes for the Christmas Child Program. For over 20 years and into this decade St. Finnan’s CWL supported a child in Peru helping him go to school. Each child sent letters telling of their achievements and thanking CWL.
The more usual things continued like student public speaking contests, literacy day, bake sales, raffles, nursing home birthday and Christmas parties, fighting pornography through W.R.A.P to name some. A few extraordinary donations occurred. St. Finnan’s sent a donation to the U.S. Red Cross Relief fund after 9/11 and at the request of Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher, councils were asked to give $500.00 each to help defray the cost of buses going to Montreal for the canonization of Brother Andre.
Pro-Life dinners were an annual event raising awareness and the Baby bottle project for Pro-life began. From there the fight against euthanasia took off. National CWL created a workshop on Euthanasia that members attended. They pleaded constantly with the government writing letters and talking with experts.
President Hilda McDougall (2006-2009) initiated bringing poinsettias to the CWL members who were shut in. During her time in office, she organized the Day of Adoration on the 17th of every month. As well she and Parish activities convener, Sandra Banister, attended the National Convention in Montreal in 2007. Honour Guards at funerals of members was started as was the Adopt-a-Priest Program.
The possibility of collaboration on the Bonspiel of the Knights and the CWL was explored.
In 2010, St. Finnan’s CWL sent a formal letter to St. Raphael’s CWL council inviting their members to join our council as theirs was disbanding.
Gwen Morris received the Maple Service Pin for extraordinary devoted service to the League.
Early in 2011 St. Finnan’s CWL was delighted to welcome 11 new members from St. Raphael’s parish as their CWL had disbanded. Family Fun moved to the first Sunday in June. Annual charitable donations went to Our Lady’s Missionaries with the Mother’s Day roses, Catholic Christian Outreach, Children’s Treatment Centre, Carefor Cornwall Hospice, St. Finnan’s Breakfast program, St. Finnan’s School fund for the needy, Shalom House, Philippine Survivors’ fund. The Service Club of Cornwall asked for boxes of Jell-o for the Children’s Christmas Baskets. Holy Trinity asked for help in sending students on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Our bake sales continued as a major fund-raiser, but fortunately the joint Knights of Columbus and CWL Bonspiel became a great parish activity and every woman who could, worked in some way in the day-long event. Our CWL bulletin notices were printed in the bulletins at St. Raphael’s and St. Margaret of Scotland.
Hosting the Diocesan convention in 2015 council members worked together to pull off a most fabulous convention from set up, decoration, seating plans, to food preparation, to the special celebratory cupcakes by Cassie Nutt, to greeting guests, taking registration for over 100 people. President Corry Olsthoorn led her council in this accomplishment.
This group of women was then approached to work in the community with other CWL councils across the region to help prepare lunches for the International Plowing Match held in Finch—not a spiritual event, but the spirit of women working together spilled over making a joyous occasion, though it was definitely long and hard work.
About 2016, CWL National proposed a full day of prayer for palliative care for every CWL across Canada. St. Finnan’s took a serious role leading the service for many years. The Rosary Rally “Canada Needs Our Lady” at the Grotto was initiated by CWL member Moira van Nooten and Knight John van Nooten,
In this last decade, the CWL maintained their yearly activities while a subtle shift was taking place at St. Finnan’s: a change of focus and understanding of what the CWL can accomplish while always maintaining faith development. More women volunteered as Eucharistic ministers, readers, in the choir, at Sunday school, as sacristans, as servers especially at funeral masses, parish council reps, school liaison rep, school tutors. Fewer local community groups asked for CWL volunteers. Interestingly, the National CWL mission statement for 2020 is that even today the Catholic Women’s League of Canada calls “its members to grow in faith and to witness to the love of God through ministry and service.” St. Finnan’s Council has done exactly this for 100 years.
Unfortunately these last 2 years due to the Covid pandemic several activities that spotlighted CWL work were halted.
For example: Tutoring reading at St. Finnan’s school, attending special school events when invited like for the Living Rosary, bringing Communion to the Nursing Home, teaching Sunday school, monthly CWL meetings, the Bonspiel, the Day of Prayer for Palliative Care, World Day of Prayer, Pro-life dinners, visiting the sick, school essay contests, Baby Bottles for Pro-Life, CWL retreats at Shalom house, Christmas and Potluck dinners in June, donations at Christmas of mittens and hats to students, guest speakers at meetings, identify many events , not all, that did not occur. Even our bake sales which help us meet our charitable donations could not be held. That said, with parishioners’ generous monetary donations at our “none-bake” bake sale in 2020, we were able to provide high school and grade 8 bursaries, and still donate to Our Lady’s Missionaries.
What did remain of CWL these last 2 years? Determination and Commitment. To keep St. Finnan’s parishioners hopeful and faith-filled, we worked hard. Our president, Inez Franklin, stayed on to lead the council through the troubled times. Many members are the same ones that day after day pray the rosary before Mass, week after week still greet and clean after masses, week after week still sing in the choir once authorities permitted, week after week attend the new Friday adoration schedule, month after month receive emails from current president Inez Franklin of all the on-line sites to visit to build our faith and keep us focused on higher things.
This year, we celebrate 100 years of service. Every single member since 1921 has contributed to this milestone by being first and foremost a woman of faith seeking to grow spiritually as she used her time and talents to care for God’s people near and far. Although St. Finnan’s CWL has met challenges this last while, our council will continue its work with God’s Grace alone. Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.