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Parish Past Presidents memo Fall 2019

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DATE: September 30, 2019
FROM: Margaret Ann Jacobs, national past president and chairperson of laws
TO: Parish past presidents

Dear League sisters,

There is much excitement and enthusiasm regarding strategic planning for the envisioned future of the League. What you need to know is this initiative was undertaken especially for members working at the parish level. So, it is imperative your voice be heard. If not you, then do find someone in the parish council who can be the information channel and keep posted on current activities. Encouragement and support will be necessary to make the changes required to ensure a vibrant League council in the future.

Many parish councils experience challenges as dioceses are reconfigured and parishes are closed, twinned and amalgamated. There is a real challenge facing parish councils as these changes take place. How we respond to these innovations may well determine the future success of our endeavours as members and missionary disciples.

As national chairperson of laws, my input is often sought in the deliberation of procedures to be followed. As past parish presidents, your guidance and insight will be required. I offer some suggestions as you work with the parish council president and chairperson of organization to ascertain the best steps forward.

At the parish level, the following issues seem to require remediation:

† the closing, twinning, amalgamating and clustering of parishes and the resultant impact on parish councils;
† councils that have chosen to become inactive;
† councils that have chosen to disband;
† councils that are reactivating.

I urge you to fully investigate all options before any action is taken.

  1. Access the National Manual of Policy and Procedure pages 52-57. There may not be an answer for your particular issue, but the framework for responding to challenges the council may be facing will be addressed there.
  2. Contact your counterpart at the next level of the League—regional, diocesan, provincial. If they do
    not have an answer for your queries, they will certainly make further contact up the chain of
  3. Pray the Lord will show you what He is blessing and not merely bless what you are doing or think
    needs to be done.
  4. Keep an open mind and heart. Maintain a positive sense of hopefulness. Trust that the Spirit will
    inspire your League journey.
  5. Focus on transparency in all communication. Cooperation, compromise and sincerity are great
  6. In all League undertakings, cherish the dedicated, selfless, often visionary gifts of members who
    created a legacy for the parish council. By keeping the history and archives up to date, you honour
    the work of so many League sisters who have gone before you, creating a foundation that was
    strong, resilient and life-giving.


The role of the past president is consultative and advisory. Others will draw on her experience when trying to make the best decisions for the council.” (Executive Handbook, PAST PRES-23)

Download pdf copy


Some Tips for Document Storage

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  • Choose your style of storage box based on the type of collection and your need for access.
  • Use a document storage cases to store important papers vertically in folders for organized access.
  • Record storage cartons to save space when storing a large quantity of records.
  • Metal edge storage boxes and enclosures will not only store, but also protect important collections from dust, pollution, acid migration and other environmental damage.
  • If you need access to your collections regularly, clear plastic enclosures will protect these items from abrasion, dust, fingerprints and oils.


 Remember to keep a list of your documents that you have stored. An indication of the year and a short explanation of the documents would also aid those who come after us.

For example:

                Box #2 2015 Minute Book- President Mary Smith, Secretary Jane Jones.

Sharon Malec,

Past President

History & Archives



Parish past presidents memo Fall 2018

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Dear League Sisters,
As you are finishing your first year as parish past president or the entire term, while possibly preparing for elections as the year ends, you have a very special and important role to fulfill. Past presidents’ are not so much in the spotlight but nonetheless significant.

The Handbook for Past Presidents, page 4, highlights four main duties:

1. Consultation: Why not take the initiative to promote The Catholic Women’s League of Canada Plans Strategically 2018-2022? Post print outs of the League’s revised core purpose, values, mission statement and envisioned future. Encourage other members of the executive through positive attitude and affirmation. Why not use the League’s “Thinking of you” cards?

2. Archives and history: Parish archives should include:

  1. original charter framed and displayed, if possible
  2. minutes of executive/general meetings are the permanent record of council activities and should be kept in dated binders
  3. the recording secretary should retain minutes from the previous two terms only; all other minutes should be transferred to the archival binders
  4. the recording secretary should retain motion books from the previous two terms only; all other motion books should be transferred to the archival binders
  5. all accounting records (including cheques and receipts) should be kept for five years
  6. separate binder for other important information related to the life of the parish council:
    i. list of parish presidents/spiritual advisors with names/addresses and term of office
    ii. list of recipients of maple leaf service pins/League pins, with names and dates of presentations
  7. a record of anniversary dates of all members; this is an excellent reference for awards research
  8. Other:
    1. written histories
    2. scrapbooks and/or albums labeled by date and event
    3. annual reports
    4. special project file with financial statements
    5. sample of newsletters, if applicable
    6. each past president should be encouraged to write a two to three-page story of highlights of her term as president

3. Study and implementation of the Constitution & Bylaws (C&B): In my tool kit I have a series of short simple activities that could be used to focus on the C&B. Councils may need to purchase several copies of the C&B for reference. I would be pleased to share these activities with anyone who would like a copy. Contact Natalia at national office for copies () .

Activities include:

  1. Membership – Organization Activity + Membership – Organization Answers
  2. Duties of Officers Activity + Duties of Officers Answers
  3. Duties of Standing Committees Activity + Duties of Standing Committees Answers
  4. Finance Activity + Finance Answers
  5. Objects of the League Activity + Objects of the League Answers
  6. Crossword Activity + Crossword Answers
  7. JEOPARDY® Activity (used with permission of Lucille Cullen)
  8. Word Search Activity
  9. Acrostic Activity
  10. Word Activity

4. Submit an annual report: Online reporting is available once again, so this will be an easy task.
Keep a monthly record of activity. Perhaps offer to help a fellow executive member who may be having trouble. Advise and assist and use your experience and expertise.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

God bless,
Margaret Ann Jacobs
National Past President

October 5, 2018


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2017 Past President memo from Barbara Dowding, national past president and chairperson of laws:

To parish council past presidents,

It is a pleasure to write directly to you! You play an important role. The annual reports have shown that this role is often played out in many ways, from being a past president for many years, to being current and past president at the same time, and many other variations! Clearly, parish councils manage the best way they can, given each situation, as close to the structure as possible and always trying to do their best.

I want to encourage you to embrace the understanding that your experience, expertise and love for the League will go a long way towards attracting others to accept some sort of leadership role. Trust in the Lord to keep our activity in the League meaningful and look for opportunities to mentor, advise, help and even correct as situations arise. It is this trust that keeps us grounded and focused on the big picture.

The League is entering into an exciting stage in its history by undertaking a process to plan strategically for the next three to five years. Members lucky enough to be in Charlottetown don’t have to be reminded how exciting the town hall meeting was. If you missed it, I highly recommend looking it up on the website cwl.ca under conventions. Consider sharing the presentations at a parish council meeting – great fun!

Now, more than ever, we are called to stand together in solidarity. As the strategic planning process gets into high gear, more information will become available. The Canadian League magazine will have a full overview of the process, prompting good discussions at all levels.

I encourage you to become an ambassador of change or a cheerleader for the future, working together to bring new life and vigour to parish councils and the League. Times are changing and the signs of the times are clear. Let’s be sure the League is in tune leading the charge to build up the Kingdom of God right here and now. Help Catholic women have the opportunity to experience the sisterhood and good things the League so values.

Take your place and be a voice.
Barb Dowding
National past president and chairperson of laws

© Calgary Diocesan CWL