Mary Hunt

Mary Hunt

May 2, 2016

The influential role of the Catholic Women's League of Canada in social action was affirmed at the recent 94th annual Edmonton archdiocesan convention.

The theme for this year's convention, which took place April 22 to 24 at Holy Family Church in St. Albert, was With One Heart, One Voice, One Mission Be the Face of Mercy.

Speakers, including Archbishop Richard Smith, who praised the CWL's ability to secure audiences with premiers and prime ministers, urged the sisters of the league to be the face of mercy, the eyes of mercy and the hands of mercy.

The heart of the message of mercy is action, said Smith, speaking on the hands of mercy through the works of the CWL: "Because hands suggest action and movement toward others to help."

"Mercy is not simply an attitude of pity. No, mercy takes us far beyond that. It lifts us, pulls us out of ourselves toward the other and moves us to make concrete acts of love to one another, aimed at making a positive difference in their lives."

Mary Hunt, archdiocesan president of the CWL, said it was "wonderful" that the speakers underscored the importance of the convention and the CWL's ability to use its voice to share the concerns of the day for social action.

"Collectively, we make a significant difference to the quality of life in our families and in our communities," said Hunt.

This year's convention had a registration of 261, including more than 60 first-time convention-goers.

Quality end-of-life care was a prominent concern raised at the convention.

The archbishop and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on the CWL to support their campaign against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. Many are keen to start a letter-writing campaign, said Hunt.


Deeply troubled by the "juggernaut" unfolding over the last few years for the legalization of assisted suicide in Canada, Smith told the convention, our voices need to be raised in ways that are very loud and noticed.

"What was once almost universally considered unthinkable is now more and more being justified, even at the level of our courts and our federal Parliament," said Smith. "At the heart of this is a message that's very cold and very chilling: that some lives are less worth living than others."

We do not solve our problems by killing one another, he said. But the more it happens, the more it is talked about, the more it is justified "very often, on the basis of emotion rather than of reason."


"So often these processes are proposed as acts of mercy. But when we think about what mercy means in the biblical tradition, that's a gross distortion of the terminology. Killing is not mercy. Killing can never be mercy."

The more the opposite view seems to be seen, the more we need "megaphone hands," said Smith, in his presentation on being the hands of mercy. "The more we need to be shouting."

"Perhaps the most merciful thing that we can be doing right now is indeed to shout out the message of the Gospel."

Convention attendees called this year's event "an interesting, informative, opportunity for renewal and inspiration," said Hunt. "That's what you want conventions to be."


Three resolutions were passed, including one resolution pertaining to caring for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, and one regarding disposable feminine hygiene products.

An amendment to the constitution and bylaws passed for the addition of four maple leafs to the CWL crest, to include the territories and military ordinariate.

At the convention's opening Mass and ceremony 16 priests from across the archdiocese concelebrated with the archbishop.