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Convention 2013 a Great Experience

The Calgary Diocesan Council of the Catholic Women's League of Canada held its 91st Annual Convention May 3rd to 5th at St. Mary's University College in Calgary. Women from Hanna to Milk River were among over 200 enthusiastic participants during the two-day convention.

The Catholic Women`s League of Canada, founded in Edmonton in 1912, is rooted in gospel values, calling its members to service through an organization designed to foster `faith, fun and fulfilment". It welcomes women, both Catholic and non-Catholic, from age 16 on up.

The foundation of the League is, of course, our faith. Inspirational spiritual programs over the two days centred on the themes Women of the Gospels and A Prayer of Blessing for Pope Francis & the Universal Church. Participants were invited to explore the beautiful grounds of the university at their leisure.

St. Bonaventure Parish in south-east Calgary was host to the opening Mass for the convention with Bishop Frederick Henry as celebrant, assisted by the Calgary Diocesan Spiritual Advisor, Fr. Mario Basque of St. Anthony's in Drumheller, and by St. Bonaventure's Fr. Wilbert Chin Jon and Fr. Lukas Drapal.

The closing Mass Saturday evening was held at St. Cecilia's Church with Fr. Mario Basque as celebrant, and St. Cecilia's pastor, Fr. Frank Feldmann, and Deacon Michael Soentgarth assisting. The new Calgary Diocesan CWL Executive was presented to the congregation and blessed by incoming president, Carol Schlachter.

The Calgary Diocesan Convention this year was privileged to have as its first guest speaker Dr. Gerry Turcotte, president of St. Mary's University College. Dr. Turcotte illustrated how we all view the world according to how we have been taught to see it; he challenged us to view it from another's perspective, to ask ourselves what our own assumptions and biases are, and to be inclusive of everyone. It is our duty to teach children to see with their hearts as well as with their minds and this perhaps is why Dr. Turcotte is such a strong advocate of a liberal arts education. The university's role should be to develop the whole person, to help create well-rounded individuals who can ensure the health and stability of democracies.

Michael Coren, a controversial Toronto broadcaster, Sun News columnist, and writer originally from England, was the afternoon speaker who took his theme from his recent 2011 book entitled Why Catholics Are Right. He is a strong proponent of what he calls "orthodox Catholicism." A passionate defender of Catholicism, Mr. Coren promotes the Church in his writing at a time in our history when many Catholics feel they have been under attack from the media and society at large.

On Saturday, Fr. Mario Basque, Calgary Diocesan CWL Spiritual Advisor, shared his personal spiritual journey with convention delegates in an energetic, inspiring talk. In a quest that lasted many years, Fr. Mario explored everything from fundamentalist Christianity to transcendental meditation before finally arriving at the decision to enter the priesthood. "Who, in their right mind, wants to be a priest?!" he asked. Well, he did and everyone at the convention was delighted that he did.

Fr. Mario challenged members of the Catholic Women`s League to consider taking this year`s national theme, We Have Seen the Lord, to heart: "Have YOU seen the Lord? Have you experienced the love and the friendship of Jesus? Have you had a personal encounter with Jesus that changed you for the better?" He asked participants to think about their responses and encouraged the women to bring Jesus'

message of the Kingdom to others, to put Christ at the centre of our lives, and to share our testimony. "Only God can give us purpose & meaning in life. Allow the Holy Spirit to work within you through prayer."

After discussion and debate, convention participants passed two resolutions, one of which made it through the provincial level and will be voted on at the CWL National Convention in Regina on August 14th. Members across the country will now be taking action on Limiting Disclosure of the Sex of the Foetus Until After 30 Weeks of Pregnancy. Seeking an elective abortion because the mother is carrying a girl child is opposed by an overwhelming majority of Canadians. The CWL encourages all people of faith to lobby their Members of Parliament on this important issue.

Educational displays on CWL committees such Education & Health, Christian Family Life, Legislation, and Community Life provided lots of materials for members to take back to their parishes. Vendors included Servants Anonymous Foundation, Universal Religious Supplies, Project Rachel and Guadalupe Gifts.

With great music and comedy provided by performers Kaleidescope, a gala banquet ended the event on a high note. CWL members of southeast Calgary from St. Albert the Great, St. Bernadette, St. Bonaventure, St. Cecilia's and St. Patrick's worked together to put on a wonderful convention this year. Anyone who has never attended Diocesan Convention should plan ahead for next year when, hopefully, we will be able to gather in High River.

© Calgary Diocesan CWL