Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of August 21, 2006
Bedard became companion on the journey
Calgary woman enriched by 2 years leading national CWL
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
"I'm not just a companion when it's easy to be a companion."
- Agnes Bedard
"My journey was to meet as many Catholic women as possible, because I am truly their companion and we are on this common journey."
The experience was gratifying. "As an old teacher, there is probably nothing better than having classes that listen to you and take part in what you're doing."
Bedard also realized the theme began to make her see things differently. "I used to dislike big time the middle seat in the airplane," Bedard said. She used to arrive early to make sure she didn't get stuck there. One day, despite her efforts, she was assigned a middle seat.
"I began to think, if I am truly a companion, then these two people on either side of me are truly my companions." So she made a point of showing kindness to them and interacting with them," she said.
"I'm not just a companion when it's easy to be a companion, but in difficult times," she said. "It really does change how you look at people. These are my companions. Some are sitting on the sidewalk begging. Others are wearing a thousand dollar suit."
As she crisscrossed the country, she was impressed by the calibre of the speakers, the experience of people who have "run meetings forever" and the "people who love the league, who love their God and serve happily."
"We all come from parish councils, and sometimes we struggle at the parish council level," she said, noting that some are stronger than others. But it is from the parish councils that the resolutions arise.
"You make sandwiches one day and the next day you sit down to figure out what you can do about a pretty serious problem like poverty," she said.
These resolutions are debated, amended and voted on at the national convention, and will become part of the groups' lobbying efforts.
Each year, CWL delegations visit Parliament Hill to raise the group's concerns with politicians. Last year, for the first time, they got in to see the prime minister.
"It was very good for us," she said. "He (Stephen Harper) was very welcoming and he listened. He asked questions and we were encouraged to ask questions of him."
Bedard said she also enjoyed getting to know many of Canada's bishops. She joked that she liked her spot at the banquet table because it was always next to the local bishop.
"They really appreciate the league and what it has done for Catholicism in Canada."
She praised how supportive the Church hierarchy has been of the CWL, as well as the priests and lay women who have provided spiritual direction.
With her intense service over, Bedard said she will be happy to spend more time with her family.
She will continue to serve on the executive of CWL and attend its national conventions. She is also on the executive of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO).
Bedard now sees herself as a companion to women from other nations, whose lives have been more difficult. WUCWO has status with a number of United Nations organizations, and Bedard is looking forward to the spiritual journey.
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