Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 15, 2008
New CWL president seeks members from all faiths
Greying membership prompts Catholic group to open its doors to others
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
MEDICINE HAT - The new president of the Alberta Mackenzie provincial council of the Catholic Women's League is seeking more league members.
Recruitment is one of Fran Lucas' main goals as she begins her two-year term as president. She wants women of all ages and faiths to join. That's right. You don't have to be Catholic to belong to the CWL. As a matter of fact, the CWL currently has about a dozen women from other faiths and Christian denominations in its ranks.
Lucas was chosen as CWL provincial president-elect two years ago and was installed as president June 6 during the league's provincial convention in Medicine Hat. She replaces Donna Prevost of Fairview.
BUS OF SUPPORTERS
Lucas received a pleasant surprise when a bus with 22 people from Edmonton arrived at the convention June 6 to congratulate her on her new position. George Lucas, Fran's husband, and Sister Annata Brockman of St. Joseph's Basilica, arranged the surprise.
Participants left Edmonton early June 6 arriving at about 3 p.m., attended the 5 p.m. Mass and stayed for the banquet. They left at 10 p.m. the same day for another seven-hour drive back to Edmonton.
"It was pretty awesome to see those people there," Lucas said. "They wanted to be there to offer their support."
Some 160 delegates and guests attended the June 5-6 convention. They chose Sheila Houle of Morinville as president-elect. Houle will work side by side with Lucas for the next two years and will take over as president at the 2011 convention.
"I'm excited," Lucas said of the task ahead. "We have some huge things that we need to make happen."
Lucas' first goal is membership. The CWL has more than 10,000 members in the five Alberta dioceses.
"That's quite a few members but we need more," Lucas said. "Our membership is elderly."
At any given convention it's a struggle to try to identify five or six women under the age of 35, the president noted.
"In the Edmonton Archdiocese alone, in 2008 we lost 70 members who died. That's a lot of people to replace."
Non-Catholic women who join the CWL have the right to vote and participate in all CWL activities but can't hold executive positions.
At a recent book reading with Jewish, Anglican and Lutheran women, two non-Catholic women asked for membership in the CWL.
As part of the recruitment drive, there will be an attempt to reach out and offer hope to all women who can benefit from a CWL membership.
"We will try to reach out to divorced, widows and single moms," Lucas explained. "Many times we just approach those we are comfortable with but I think we have to step outside of that box and have a little discomfort and make that offer."
During her term, Lucas also plans to have the CWL to "collaborate more" with women of other faiths, especially on issues and actions of public interest.
"If we are working as a larger group of women, we can have an even stronger impact."
Lucas, manager of volunteer services at Northlands and a member of St. Joseph's Basilica Parish, also plans to offer training to members "so that more eligible women at all levels will step forward for executive positions."
Lucas joined the CWL at St. Joseph's Basilica some 20 years ago. At first she didn't know what she was getting into but it didn't take her long to find her spot. It was the camaraderie and the friendliness of the women that led her to stay.
"They asked me to start doing stuff right away and I am a doer; I like to be involved. I don't want to be sitting on the sidelines," she explained.
"So I did get involved very shortly and I think by my third year I was president elect (of the St. Joseph's Basilica Council)."
MET WITH PREMIER
Lucas, a mother of one adult son, Andrew, continued to move up in the CWL ranks, serving as president of the Edmonton Archdiocese's CWL from 2002-04. As a member of the provincial council, she met with Premier Ed Stelmach this fall.
What keeps Lucas interested is the fact the CWL is open to new things and has allowed her to make things happen.
She is also energized by the knowledge she is making a difference and by the support of CWL members.
"I believe in what the league does and I understand its importance," she says. "Collectively we are doing wonderful things."
Lucas calculates she spends at least 15 hours a week on CWL work. "It's very rewarding," she said.
New officers who will serve on the provincial council along with Lucas and Houle include Gloria Lundberg of Calgary as vice-president; Cathy Bouchard of Edmonton, secretary; Ruth Boden, also of Edmonton, treasurer; and Dorothy Johansen of the Edmonton Archdiocese as resolutions and legislation standing committee chair. Donna Prevost will continue to sit on the provincial executive as past president.
Convention speakers included Dr. Clem Persaud of Victoria who tackled the topic Abortion-Breast Cancer Link.
Thomas Bouchard of Calgary, a third year medical student, spoke on the partnership between the CWL and Physicians For Life.
Lorraine Hartsook of Eston, Sask. gave a testimony of God's healing in her life.
Letter to the Editor - 06/29/09