National CWL president Barbara Dowding (second from left) and others leave a Mass at the national CWL convention.

B.C. CATHOLIC PHOTO |AGNIESZKA KRAWCZYNSKI

National CWL president Barbara Dowding (second from left) and others leave a Mass at the national CWL convention.

September 14, 2015
AGNIESZKA KRAWCZYNSKI
THE B. C. CATHOLIC

A B.C. bishop who spent eight years in the North knows the Catholic Women's League has great missionary potential.

"This is my experience of the Catholic Women's League: a good heart and a strong mind for the mission of the Church," Bishop Gary Gordon of Victoria told more than 900 CWL members and guests at the annual national convention in Vancouver Aug. 18.

Gordon said when he was bishop of Whitehorse, the Yukon had two CWL councils, one with 25 members and the other with four.

He suggested the ladies visit some villages in the diocese and recruit new members.

Months later, he found out "they had decided they were going to visit every single parish. They went on a big adventure, because that diocese is 750,000 square miles. Most parishes have an active Catholic population of about six."

Gordon guessed the CWL didn't gain many members from the massive road trip, but their efforts had a profound impact.

"I heard exultant joy and grateful praise from the people in those communities: that they were visited, that someone took the time to come and see them," he said.

"In Canada we have a lot of places like that. It's the radical rural. You could take on Canada. Go on road trips."

More recently, as bishop of Victoria, he visited the small B.C. community of Ahousat on Flores Island which is only accessible by air or water.

There, he met 30 people of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe to talk about building a church. "One of the ladies put up her hand: 'The CWL has raised over $17,000 over the last 14 years to build that new church.'"

Gordon was shocked. A five-member council had been holding fundraisers every couple of weeks, bent on building a new church. "Wow. That's resilience. That's staying power. That's the mission."