Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 16, 2003
CWL targets younger members
'Gentle but strong' president supports peace, justice, family
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
A farmwoman from the Calgary Diocese will lead Alberta-Mackenzie provincial council of the Catholic Women's League for the next two years.
Mary Heinzlmeir took over the reigns of the 9,800-member organization at the League's 56th annual convention at Nisku Inn June 6-8. She replaced Connie McBride of Edmonton, who presided over the weekend convention. More than 250 delegates from throughout Alberta and the Northwest Territories attended the event.
A member of St. Rita's Parish in Rockyford, a farming community halfway between Calgary and Drumheller, the petite, soft-spoken woman plans, among other things, to attract as many younger members to the CWL as possible.
"Our objective is to make women aware of what the CWL is about," she said June 7. "We are more than just the baking and the fundraising. We (also) offer spiritual growth, friendship and opportunities for women to use their God-given gifts and talents."
During her tenure, Heinzlmeir is also likely to support activities that promote social justice, peace and family life - values that she strongly believes in. "The family is an essential institution," she said. "If the family is not well, everything falls apart."
In an interview, Heinzlmeir described the CWL as "an organization of Catholic women rooted in the Gospel that comes together in faith because we see a need to make a difference in the lives of people. This is the main vehicle we have to get together and work for positive change."
This time the organization wants change in the age of consent for sexual activity in Canada. A resolution approved at the convention calls on the CWL to lobby the federal government to raise the age of consent for sexual activity from the present 14 years of age to 16.
"We are doing this to protect our children," McBride said, noting the resolution will be forwarded to the national council of the league for consideration at its upcoming convention.
Background information on the resolution underlines the fact that several Western nations have legislated 16 or older as the age of consent, including most of U.S., Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India. Article 1 of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child, defines a child as a person under the age of 18.
"All provincial and territorial ministers of justice, except the ministers of justice of Saskatchewan and Quebec, agree that the Criminal Code of Canada should be amended to raise the legal age for sexual activity from 14 to 16, " the resolution says.
"If the family is not well, everything falls apart."
- Mary Heinzlmeir
The CWL also approved a resolution encouraging its members to fight the secularization of Christmas by focusing on the true meaning of the season. The resolution urges the provincial council to initiate a province-wide activity in the weeks leading up to Christmas and calls on the national CWL to prepare a 15-minute program of readings and music specific to the Advent season.
Cast Out Into the Deep was the convention's theme with speakers such as Bishop Douglas Crosby of Labrador City/Schefferville, and the CWL national president-elect Agnes Bedard focusing on that theme.
Heinzlmeir, a mother of three and grandmother of two, joined the CWL 40 years ago and is happy she did. "It has helped me grow and has given meaning to my faith and my life," she told the WCR. "I have really benefited from being a CWL member and hopefully I have contributed to the organization as well."
In Heinzlmeir, the league has a team leader who believes in the wisdom of collective thinking and decision-making. "I'm the president but I want the executive to work with me," she smiled. "Everyone has something to contribute and if you allow that (to happen) you'll get better results."
What does make Heinzlmeir tick? Singing at the parish choir, painting china, camping and spending time with husband David and her grandchildren.
McBride, the former CWL president, believes Heinzlmeir will make a good president because of her personal qualities. "Mary is a very gentle person, but at the same time she is very strong," she observed. "She is also very committed to the CWL."
Serving in the provincial executive along with Heinzlmeir during the 2003-05 term will be the following new officers elected at the convention:
Standing Committee Chairpersons:
- President Elect: Ella Ell, Calgary
- Vice President: Mary-Lou Veeken, Sherwood Park
- Secretary: Donna Chailler, Fairview
- Treasurer: Aurore McCleary, Calgary
The convention concluded with a banquet where the provincial council's Elsie Yanik Award for service was presented to Kathleen ("Kay") Chudleigh of Corpus Christi Parish in Calgary.
- Mary Antonio, Bezanson
- Maureen Gowans, Inuvik
- Virginia Haahr, Drumheller
- Jeanette Laforce, Cold Lake
- Vi Lake, Okotoks
She was recognized for her many accomplishments, particularly initiating her CWL council's involvement with Bethany Care Alzheimer Home. The next provincial convention will be held in Calgary in June 2004.