Dorothy Johansen

Dorothy Johansen

June 17, 2013

CALGARY – Disclosure of the sex of an unborn child should not be permitted until the fetus has reached 30 weeks gestation, says the Alberta-Mackenzie Catholic Women's League.

The resolution, passed at the league's June 7-9 provincial convention in Calgary, is one of three that will be forwarded for consideration at the national CWL convention in August.

"The idea is that we're trying to limit sex selection, especially for females," said Dorothy Johansen of Edmonton, elected provincial president at the convention. "It's really to prevent or eliminate the aborting of female fetuses."

Another resolution calls for changing employment insurance benefits for women who choose abortion.

"The idea is rather than have them receive maternity benefits, have them receive sickness benefits," said Johansen. "Obviously that is important because they are not becoming a mother."

Those resolutions originated from the Calgary Diocesan CWL while a third came from the league in the St. Paul Diocese.

That resolution calls for better funding for education and research that would lead to earlier detection of Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a common tick-borne disease that is indicated by flu-like symptoms. Johansen explained that some people are either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed in sufficient time.

For those diagnosed late, the antibiotic program is much longer than it would have been.

"Part of our approval is to say that these are now national issues, so they go on to the national convention in August," said Johansen.

As the new CWL provincial president, Johansen will work under the theme, "We have seen the Lord."

The CWL does a lot of fundraising, but rather than just doling out money, they want to get their hands dirty as well, she said.

"Archbishop Richard Smith has challenged us to do more hands-on work, so I know that Edmonton is doing a Habitat for Humanity this coming weekend (June 16). We're all about eliminating homelessness," said Johansen.

More advocating and letter-writing on important issues will be a top priority. Their goal is to keep watch of the issues in Alberta and Canada, and act on them.

"Most of our fundraising needs to be people-centred, so that we are actually interacting with our parishes and our communities," she said.

Also at the provincial convention, Dr. Gerry Turcotte, president of St. Mary's University College, spoke on the art of illumination.

Turcotte explained how faith reveals itself through art, education and the everyday.

"He said that our role as Christians in these ugly times is to make present that which is beautiful," said Johansen.

"We seem to have a lot of people trying to make things ugly or invisible. A lot of things which we avoid right now, like homelessness, are all about being invisible. The idea is to retrain ourselves to see things."

The convention also heard from CWL National President Betty Anne Brown Davidson, Eunice Peterson, of the Catholic Psychotherapy Association of Canada, and Doreen Bloos, dean of students and director of faith formation at Newman Theological College.

Bloos spoke about theology and the courses offered at the college for laypeople who want to know more about their faith.

Laypeople come to Newman to learn about Church teaching, to find answers to life's big questions and to train for pastoral ministry, Bloos said.

Women currently studying at Newman are seeking to be prison chaplains, be retreat centre leaders, run soup kitchens or educate others in their faith, she said.


This year's winner of the league's Elsie Yanik Award was Dianne Skogan. Skogan has been a CWL member for 46 years, and is currently a member of St. Mark's Council in Calgary. She has served on many standing committees and has served as the president of St. Mark's from 1999 to 2002.

"She is considered a great mentor by the members of her council and they also see her as an enthusiastic promoter of the league," said Johansen.