Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 13, 2005
CWL president promotes unity
Ella Ell wants CWL members to unite and bring Christianity back into the public forum
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
A Calgary homemaker and former secretary will lead the Alberta-Mackenzie provincial council of the Catholic Women's League for the next two years.
Ella Ell, a retired secretary with the Calgary Catholic School Board and mother of seven and grandmother to 14, took over as president of the almost 10,000-member organization at the League's annual convention at the Trumpeter Hotel June 3-5.
She replaced Mary Heinzlmeir of Rockyford, who presided at the convention. Close to 150 delegates from the five diocesan CWL councils attended the event.
Ell has been a member of the Holy Trinity Council of the CWL since 1972. Prior to that, she was busy raising children and had no intention of joining the CWL, even though her mother was a member.
Too busy being Mom
"I was not interested basically in becoming a member," she recalled in a telephone interview. "I was very involved in all kinds of things with my kids and I couldn't handle anymore."
That changed when her sister-in-law became the president of her local CWL council in 1972 and asked Ell to accompany her to the banquet. At the banquet, the sister-in-law said, "Ella, I think it is time for you to join."
The organization's spirituality and the friendship have kept Ell involved since then. "When I joined the CWL, I already had five children and I was a stay-at-home mom. So of course I spent a lot of time with my kids and not much time with anybody else. When I joined, I found a lot of friendship and friends that I still have to this day from 1972," she related.
"And I don't think anyone can join the CWL and not grow spiritually. The spiritual support is really wonderful, so that's what kept me going."
Ell is concerned about a number of social issues and sees the CWL as a powerful tool for change. "I really believe that with 10,000 members in the province of Alberta and with 100,000 members in Canada active on social issues, we can make the most massive difference in this world if we work together," she said.
One of her goals is to "unite the ladies" in the province to be proactive in bringing the focus on Christianity back into the public world.
"We are being sort of ushered to the sidelines; we are not allowed to talk about God in public, even though a very high percentage of people in Canada are Christian," she lamented.
"I think it's time we stood up and said, 'No, this is what we believe in, this is what we want, this is what we have a right to.' And not just us; I think that the Christians have a right to public display of their beliefs and so do the Jewish people and so do the Muslims. I believe that everyone has a right to that. And I think we have to work together to bring that about in the public."
Ell plans to meet with women's groups from other religions and has already spoken to Bishop Fred Henry about the issue.
"Christians have the right to display their symbols and beliefs (in public)," she said. "For example if you drive by the schools, now you see 'Season's Greetings.' You don't even see 'Merry Christmas' anymore because it says Christ in Christmas. We cannot allow that to continue."
Ell, a strong supporter of traditional marriage, also plans to promote and celebrate traditional Christian marriage as a unit of one man and one woman.
"I think that all human beings have rights, but you have to be what God created you to be," Ell said. "A family is (made up of) a man and a woman and children.
The basis for a family is procreation. If we didn't have families, our world would have come to an end a long time ago."
Ell is a dedicated CWL member and will make a fine president, said Heinzlmeir, the outgoing president. "She is a real asset to the league."
Companions on the Journey was the convention theme with speakers such as Father Bob Mitchell from Cochrane and Father Dan Stevenot, the CWL's spiritual advisor, speaking on the theme.
"In this moment, God calls us to receive his holiness of self-giving and to become holy by the gift of ourselves to all we meet and serve," Mitchell said in his keynote presentation.
At the convention, delegates decided to engage in battle against crystal methamphetamine, a powerful and highly addictive synthetic stimulant that is becoming the drug of choice on the streets because it is cheap and can be made in home labs.
Target crystal meth
The CWL commended the Western premiers for their recent pledge to battle the use of the drug and decided to urge the federal, provincial and territorial governments to discuss and implement strategies on education, prevention, treatment and policing for crystal meth. They also want the two levels of government to increase punishment for traffickers and to tighten controls on the sale of chemicals used for crystal meth products.
The Alberta Mackenzie CWL is also urging the CWL of Canada to develop information on crystal meth to be inserted in The League magazine for the benefit of CWL members Canada-wide.
"We must get moving on this because crystal meth is far more addictive and devastating than a lot of the other drugs that are out on the street and it is more easily made," Ell said.
Serving in the provincial executive along with Ell during the 2005-07 term will be the following new officers elected at the convention: President Elect: Donna Chailler of Fairview; Vice President: Vi Lake from Okotoks; Secretary: Dorothy Johansen from Edmonton; Treasurer: Aurore McCleary, Calgary.
Standing committee chairpersons are Shirley Hansen, Calgary Diocese; Sheila House, St. Paul Diocese; and Mary Antonio, Grouard McLennan Archdiocese.
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