Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 3, 1999
New CWL president wants to preserve local councils
By WCR Staff
If Mary-Lou Veeken can help it, none of the 83 councils of the Catholic Women's League in the Edmonton Archdiocese will fold due to parish restructuring.
The CWL's new archdiocesan president believes councils can exist on their own and she has vowed to keep them going even if their parishes close.
The archdiocese is reducing the number of its parishes through mergers and clustering as a way to deal with the priest shortage and population shifts. Some fear CWL councils will fold in those parishes slated for merger or closure.
But Veeken says her goal is "to encourage all councils to continue operating in their communities" even if their parishes disappear.
"I believe that will become even more important because in many areas, especially the smaller communities, the Catholic Women's League is the only Catholic presence in the community."
Veeken said some councils already operate on their own. One is Eckville, still active years after the parish closed.
Veeken, an Edmonton librarian and mother of four, was installed as CWL president at the league's convention April 24. The member of St. James Parish who will soon move to Sherwood Park takes over from Rebecca Kallal, also of Edmonton.
As president, Veeken will provide leadership to more than 4,500 members in 83 councils. She joined the CWL in 1990 because she was interested in goals the organization pursued, particularly social issues and spiritual development.
Now she is so convinced of the value of the organization she would like all Catholic women to join. "If you are a Catholic woman you should be a member of the Catholic Women's League," she says. "I think as a group we can be more effective than individually."
Veeken says she is a team player who believes in collective leadership. "I want the input of the executive and the councils. What our members are interested in doing is what we'll do."
Nevertheless, Veeken has some goals. Along with trying to keep councils operating after parish restructuring, she plans to "continue the trend of Catholic women taking a pro-active stance on major issues in the Church and society."