We are excited to host the 2024 ABMK Provincial Convention!! 
See ABMK 2024 for details.

Secretary Tips & Tools

Secretaries - Fall 2020 Memo

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

DATE: October 9, 2020
FROM: Janet McLean, national secretary-treasurer
TO: Parish secretaries

Fall has arrived, with cooler temperatures, shorter daylight hours and brilliant colours as the leaves display their autumn finery. I hope many of you are able to attend League meetings in person if your parish and provincial health authorities allow such gatherings. Some of you may only be able to meet online or in smaller groups than normal. Whatever your circumstances, please be assured that you are all in my prayers. Now, more than ever, we are fortunate to have League sisters’ prayers for support during this time of pandemic.

As members, you belong to a national organization governed by the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act and the Constitution & Bylaws (affectionately known as the C&B). The bylaws require councils to have in-person meetings to ratify items that need to be approved by motion. Some of these items include minutes, approval of the meeting agenda, and spending of council funds. If your council meets in person, then, as secretary, you can record these motions as usual in the minutes. If your council is meeting online, then items that require approval by motion should be recorded in the notes you take of these online meetings. A vote should then be taken that these items be recommended for approval at the next in-person meeting of the council. In this way, the council is able to move forward with business even though it cannot meet in-person. The meeting notes should be kept in the council minute book. I also suggest keeping a separate list of items recommended for approval at the next in-person meeting, which will make it easier for your council to ratify these items as motions when it resumes meeting in-person.

Read more ...

Parish Secretaries memo Fall 2019

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

DATE: September 30, 2019
FROM: Janet McLean, national secretary-treasurer
TO: Parish secretaries

Greetings parish council secretaries! It is a pleasure to communicate with you in this way. The summer is slowly slipping away as councils across Canada resume their many activities. Pencils are sharpened, pens are at the ready, or computers are turned on as you begin work for another season. Recording secretaries, thank you for keeping an accurate record of the minutes. These minutes are the council’s history and, as such, are not only important for the smooth running of the council but also the council’s future members. Corresponding secretaries, thank you for your work, whether contacting members about meetings, sending birthday, get-well or thinking-of-you cards or any other correspondence the president may request.

As a reminder, when recording minutes, not all comments or discussions taking place need be noted. Record the decisions made, including the names of movers and seconders of motions passed. It is beneficial if executive members provide a copy of their report presented at a general meeting so it can be attached to the minutes. If a copy of the report is submitted a few days in advance of a meeting, you can also prepare for any possible motions. It is helpful to have notes on motions you know will be presented, i.e., approval of the agenda and approval of minutes of a previous meeting. You will only need to insert the names of the movers and seconders and whether the motions are approved as circulated or as amended. You may have your own shortcuts which help make the job a little easier.

Information for the online annual survey forms is included in this mailing. I appreciate the time you take to complete this form. The survey provides a snapshot of how parish councils handle the secretarial role and pinpoint areas where national could offer more support. Adjustments were made to the survey this year, so I hope any problems experienced last year have been corrected. I particularly enjoy reading any additional comments you may wish to make.

I wish to extend my thanks to those secretaries finishing their term at the end of this year. Thank you for stepping forward to serve the League in this important role. For those continuing as parish council secretary, thank you for all you do. This position is sometimes a challenge, but I hope you find it rewarding.

May the Holy Spirit inspire and guide you.

Download pdf copy


Parish Secretaries memo Fall 2018

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

As I write this memo, Québec is still in the midst of warm summer temperatures, but I have heard that there is a chance of snow in Alberta. It reminds me that League councils are like the weather in Canada - different from one province to another and from one parish to another.

The annual online survey forms will be available shortly for completion. It is an opportunity for me to learn how parish councils handle the duties of secretary or treasurer, providing a better understanding of what secretaries and treasurers are doing across Canada. Both forms have a question at the end of the survey for comments, so feel free to share personal thoughts about the position(s). If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me.

I encourage recording secretaries to ask for copies of reports given at council meetings. This makes it much easier when taking the minutes. There is no need to record everything that was said at the meeting. Only important decisions or motions made need to be reported in the minutes. The written copy of the report given can be attached to the minutes.

The positions of secretary and treasurer are extremely important, and I congratulate councils for the great work being done in keeping council records and finances in order. Whether you are familiar with the latest computer software or keep records manually, I am sure you are a credit to your council.

May Our Lady of Good Counsel by with you always as you fulfill the duties to the best of your ability.
Janet McLean
National Secretary-Treasurer

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Debbie Onysyk presented the following at the 2018 Diocesan Fall workshop in Hanna:

Fall Workshop – September 22nd, 2018

A couple of hints as you take on the position of Secretary of your CWL Council.

Download pdf

  • Minutes are a legal record of your meeting. When recording minutes at your meetings remember that you only report what was done at the meeting; NOT everything that is said.
  • Minutes must include your council name; type of meeting (executive, general etc.), date and place of meeting.
  • At the Executive meeting – list who was present and who sent regrets
  • Minutes must be approved at the next meeting either as read or circulated; or if there are corrections to be made they are approved as corrected. A motion is not needed to approve the minutes. Should changes be made at a later time to minutes that have already been approved – then a motion would be necessary to amend the minutes.
  • Always have a copy of the last meetings minutes with you for reference.
  • Ask all standing committee chairpersons to please give you their written report. That way it will be easier when you go to do up the minutes. Attach these reports to the minutes for filing.
  • Keep all minutes from the meetings together with a copy of the written reports (because you will only put the important details in the minutes) along with any correspondence that has come in. These minutes will then be put into the archives of your council when your term is done.
  • The secretary and president should sign and date the minutes once approved.
  • Motions MUST be recorded exactly as made. Include the person who makes the motion, the seconder and record whether it has been carried or defeated. Some councils keep all the motions in a separate MOTION’S BOOK (or binder)
  • Read highlights of all correspondence at the meetings.

These are just some guidelines to help you keep proper records so that years from now your council will have a recorded history.
Thank you for taking on the important role of Secretary of your Councils.

Resources: Handbook for Secretaries

Secretary / Treasurer Memo

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

2017 Secretaries and treasurers memo from Janet McLean, national secretary-treasurer:

Summer is over and the changing colours of the leaves are an indication that we are into autumn and all that entails for your parish council. Secretaries are recording minutes of meetings and treasurers are gearing up for any fundraising planned by their council and coordinating with the organization chairperson for the collection of membership fees for 2018.

I had the pleasure of meeting with secretaries and treasurers at the annual national convention in Prince Edward Island in August, and it was great. I am always pleased to get comments or questions from you pertaining to your duties for your council. The convention was also an exciting time as members look to the future for this great organization.

Once again we are asking parish secretaries and treasurers to complete an annual online survey form. Revisions have been made to last year’s forms so that any glitches have been corrected. If you didn’t complete the form online last year, I hope you will do so this year. For those not comfortable with computers, ask if someone in your parish or community is willing to help you. Most libraries offer access to computers and they usually have someone who will be quite happy to assist you. The survey forms are very straightforward and we would really like to hear from all parish councils as you are the most important asset of the Catholic Women’s League.

For secretaries who record the minutes for their council, did you know that you don’t have to record all the details of what transpired at the meeting? You do need to record all motions that are made, noting the names of the mover and seconder, and whether a motion was carried or defeated. If reports are given by the standing committee chairpersons, make sure that you get a copy of their report so that it can be attached to the minutes making it unnecessary for you to detail it. This will make your job a lot easier and your minutes shorter.

For treasurers, did you know that the monthly financial report that you submit does not need to be approved by way of a motion? Your report is for the members’ information only. Any expenses which are reported should have been approved before they were incurred. This is why a motion must be presented and passed at a general meeting when your council wants to disburse funds (e.g. donations to various charities the council supports, purchase of supplies for the council, approval of a stipend to be given to a guest speaker, etc.) Only your annual report, which is submitted at your annual general meeting, needs to be voted on for approval. Of course, at any meeting you should always ask if there are any questions on your report and you should be prepared to provide answers to any financial questions asked. Members are allowed to view the books of their council at any time.

I want to thank all of you for the great job that you are doing. If you ever have any questions for
me, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Janet McLean
National Secretary-Treasurer