Spiritual Tips and Tools

Prayer Enrichment Guidebook

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Pope Francis has invited the Church to dedicate this year to prayer in preparation for the Jubilee 2025. We would like to share the "Prayer Enrichment Guidebook" from the McGrath Institute with you. This guide introduces seven forms of prayer to help deepen our relationship with the Lord and encounter Him in a new way. Download guide


Having a Mary Heart in an Advent Season

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Having a Mary Heart in an Advent Season

– Speaker Cathy Bouchard, Life Member
Advent Retreat Calgary Diocesan CWL Dec. 2, 2023>


Slide 1 “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” In the midst of the
busiest month of the year, the Church invites us to focus our minds and hearts on the coming of

Slide 2 We have chosen the theme of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha Season” as the focus
our Advent retreat and preparations.


Slide 4 One day, the fullness of life and truth came walking into the living room of a pair of sisters named Martha and Mary.  They immediately recognized the privilege of having Jesus in their home and set to work fulfilling the sacred duty of hospitality.

The problem was, they had conflicting ideas of what that duty entailed.  Martha’s response is very recognizable, especially among Catholic Women’s’ League members.  “Bring out the tea and coffee, the wine (what kind do you prefer?), make sure the china and silverware are laid out in proper order, get out a full assortment of hot and cold snacks.”

Mary thought that the supreme compliment that she could pay to her divine guest, even more than world-class refreshments, was to give him her full attention.  The fullness of truth had come to her home to nourish, enlighten, and transform her.  Not to receive and unwrap this wonderful gift would be an insult to the giver.

Martha’s mistake was not that she attended to the guest’s bodily needs.  Martha’s problem was that she allowed the activity of hospitality to become a distraction.  She couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  She lost her focus and actually got mad that her sister would not join her in her frenetic fussing.

Mary kept her focus.  She was not passive – attentiveness to the fullness of truth is supremely active.  That’s why the contemplative, monastic life has always been held in the highest esteem in the Catholic Church.

We live in the most distracted, frenetic society of all time.  It is tempting in such a society to think we are good Christians and deserve applause because we look God from time to time out of the corner of our eye.

But the fullness of truth, the fullness of life, the fullness of grace deserves our full attention.

Jesus really cannot be merely a part of one’s life, but must be the center of one’s life.  It does not mean that our life can’t be full of activities.  But unless we preserve some quiet time each day to sit at his feet as did Mary, our action will become distraction and we’ll be as snappy and unhappy as Martha.
Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Slide 5 In the story of Mary and Martha from Luke we reflect on how these 2 sisters responded to the visit of their friend Jesus. Mary took the better part of listening and being in God’s presence – she was abiding. Martha was busy serving, which in itself is not a bad thing nevertheless Jesus counsels Martha that she is anxious and not attentive. While striving to be the best hostess to Jesus, and probably a number of his disciples, Martha misses the richness of this visit; the long-awaited Word of the Messiah.


How can we have a Mary heart during a Martha season?

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Rev. Julian Studden's talk at the Diocesan CWL Advent Retreat in Calgary on Dec 2, 2023
Reference to “Hidden Women of the Gospels” by Kathy Coffey


  1. Spend time in Jesus’ company in silence listening to what HE DESIRES OF US NOW.
  2. Motivate ourselves to do everything out of love for Jesus.
  3. He loves us to serve like He served us out of love. He took our place.
  4. As we serve let’s be aware that the people we serve is JESUS HIMSELF: “if you have done this to the least of these MY SISTERS AND BROTHERS you have done it to ME".



Adopt-A-Seminarian Program

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God calls every person to a personal vocation of holiness and evangelization. Whether we are called to the priesthood, religious, married, or single life, our vocation is a lifelong journey of faith in service to God and each other. Our gifts and talents are meant to be shared with our parish family and extended community. Every Catholic is called to contribute to the life of the Church and shares the responsibility of promoting and nurturing vocations.

Seminarians represent the future of the Church. They are dedicated to serving the Lord and his flock, but their path is not easy. These aspiring priests are undeterred by the arduous studies and lifetime commitment to self-sacrifice and humble devotion. Their journey involves up to eight years of seminary formation and one year of pastoral internship, along with considerable prayer, dedication, and hard work.

St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton forms these devout men into masters of scripture, liturgy, and holistic ministry through an intense program of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation. It offers more than degrees in philosophy and theology. It prepares seminarians for ordination to the priesthood and a life of ministry in parishes where they will serve as shepherds of God’s people.

Times of prayer, papers, exams, community activities, pastoral activities and everything else that makes up seminary life adds up very quickly...the monthly cards I received from the CWL were a constant reminder of the future ministry I was preparing for and, in times of difficulty or doubt, a great source of encouragement to persevere.
Fr. Santiago Torres
All Saints Parish, Lethbridge


With the priest shortage, this long-standing initiative of Calgary Diocesan Council is a tangible way to promote vocations and encourage more men to answer the call. The objective is to connect every seminarian in the Diocese of Calgary with a CWL council that will provide prayerful support and encouragement during his vocational formation.

The program gets members involved by inviting councils to “adopt” a seminarian. It is a grace-filled way to support vocations and contribute to the vitality of the Church, while taking an active role in the League’s Faith Ministry.


Several councils have already adopted seminarians and are building valued relationships. As more men will likely begin their formation this fall, our goal is to ensure that all are adopted by late October. Every seminarian deserves the support and every council is invited to experience the joy of “Walking Together” with them on their priestly journey.

Adopting councils will be randomly matched with a seminarian for the duration of his formation. If there are more councils than seminarians, two may be asked to partner or will be put on a waiting list.

All councils are asked to pray for seminarians at their meetings. Non-adopting councils can still support them by mailing Christmas and Easter cards to St. Joseph’s Seminary. This would be a fun and rewarding group activity!

The mutual benefits exceed the commitment. The program gives future priests a spiritual and emotional boost during their studies and enhances members’ spiritual growth.

To participate, councils must have members’ support and commit to the entire formation period. Adoption is a pledge to uplift seminarians by writing monthly letters of encouragement and reminders that members are praying for them.


Assign a program coordinator to engage and update members, organize a letter-writing schedule, and remind writers of their designated month. Ideally, letters should be mailed by a consistent date, such as the 1st of each month.

Program coordinators are the official liaison with seminarians and should be the only person to correspond by email. The direct connection helps to obtain mailing address changes during seminary breaks, etc. and inform writers for prompt letter delivery.

Adding the program to meeting agendas is an effective way to pray for seminarians and update members on their well-being and formation progress.

Sending info and photos on council activities creates insight on the CWL and helps build relationships. Both bode well for future spiritual advisors!


Postage stamps are the only actual costs, though members often supply stamps and greeting cards. Monetary gifts are optional, based on each council’s funds. Some include the program in their budget and send Mass cards, greeting cards, and cheques of up to $100 on special occasions like birthdays, Easter, and Christmas. Members are welcome to include personal gift cards with their letters, such as Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Walmart, etc.


Watch the Diocesan website for announcements about new seminarians starting their formation this fall. To learn more or sign up for the program, contact Dr. Rose Geonzon, Christian Family Life Chair.

Respectfully submitted,
Diane Miedema, Diocesan Treasurer
(St. Ambrose CWL, Coaldale)



Guidance for Engaging Spiritual Advisors

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I am happy to share resources that may help you and chairpersons at other levels work with the spiritual advisor and assist them in understanding their role.

Enclosed is a background document that describes the challenges from both the perspective of spiritual advisors and councils and provides ideas to help overcome them. The background document is for your review to assist in meeting with spiritual advisors one-on-one with a parish council spiritual advisor or in a larger group.

There are also two PowerPoint presentations that can be presented at larger gatherings of clergy. The shorter presentation has a script, while the longer PowerPoint, based on Catch the Fire!, offers all the information on the slides. Please review both to see what will work best, both with your time availability and the information you wish to share. A suggested handout is attached to be given to all those in attendance. You are encouraged to give each person attending a welcome kit for spiritual advisors, with information about the League, including the Guide for Spiritual Advisor’s Brochure (#167).

Another resource that could be shared is the 2021 Annual Report Summary to demonstrate the accomplishments of the League. The summary can be found on cwl.ca.

If you create other effective materials, please share them with me so they can be shared across the country.

Source: Communiqué #9 — Spiritual Development; Cathy Bouchard


Spiritual Bouquet

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A Spiritual Bouquet is the offering of prayers and / or sacrifices to another as a gift. Any offering or prayers that fit the purpose can be included. Here are some ideas you can consider.

  • a certain number of a specific prayer (Our Fathers, Hail Mary etc) See the Diocesan CWL Payer Corner for prayers you may find relevant.
  • a novena (whatever would be applicable to the recipient's situation)
  • a Mass (have a Mass said for the intentions of this person)
  • visiting the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration
  • a rosary
  • a Chaplet of Divine Mercy
  • good deeds or sacrifices offered for the intentions of that person
  • fasting or abstinence
  • acts of mercy (corporal or spiritual)

Once complete, either individually or as a group, accumulate a list of all the offerings and sacrifices.  This list will be presented to the recipient.  Feel free to use the attached template to summarize the Bouquet.


Clergy & Religious Appreciation

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Councils are encouraged to express gratitude to all clergy and religious men and women in your parish for their significant contributions.

Possible ideas include:


Marian Shrines

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In The Diocese of Calgary

CanmoreThe Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Rockies

CochraneSt. Francis Retreat Centre – Stations of the Cross

Taber – St. Augustine & St. Joseph – Holy Family Grouping in front of the church, large Grouping of Mount Calvary beside the church

1. Canadian Martyrs – 835 Northmount Drive NW (west of church)
2. Father Lacombe Care Centre – 270 Providence Blvd. (behind the complex) Mary’s grotto
3. Holy Name – 2223 – 34 St SW (in front of the church)
4. Holy Spirit – 10827 – 24 St SW (to the left (west) of the office entrance)
5. Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Church – 1714 – 14 Ave NE at the front of the church Statue of our Lady of Grace
6. Our Lady of Perpetual Help – 400 Edmonton Trail NE (Behind the Church)
7. Sacred Heart Convent – 19 Avenue & 1st St. SW (Between Chapel Structure and School)
8. St. Albert the Great – 10 Prestwick Dr. SE (in front of the church)
9. St. Bonaventure – 1600 Acadia Drive SE (left of the main doors in a little alcove)
10. St. Cecilia’s – 321 – 90 Avenue SE – Bronze statue of Rachel and rosary walk
11. St. Gerard – 8944 Elbow Dr. SW (south side of the church) Immaculate Conception surrounded by small angels with a prayer bench
12. St. Mary’s Cathedral – 18 Ave & 1st St SW (above the front doors of the Cathedral)
13. St. Peter – 541 Silvergrove Dr. NW (west of the church) Benches, moving water
14. St. Stephen Ukrainian – 4903 – 45 St. SW (close to the entrance on the south side of the church)

St. Peter's Grotto - Photo credit: Annie Chirka


Spiritual Development - Fall 2020 Memo

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DATE: October 9, 2020
FROM: Shari Guinta, national first vice-president and chairperson of spiritual development
TO: Parish chairpersons of spiritual development

Our joy in God is missionary: “‘We have found the Messiah’… And he brought him to Jesus. … ‘Come and see’” (Jn 1:41-46).
Greetings to all chairpersons of spiritual development.

October is Extraordinary Missionary Month. October 1st was the date chosen for the League’s National Day of Prayer for Canadian Home Missions. I mentioned this in the last mailing, and I hope that parish councils planned something special and initiated a program or an activity.

The Holy Father’s intention for October 2020 is “The Laity’s Mission in the Church. We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.”

Read more ...

Autumn Activities

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16 ways to celebrate All Saints' Day with your family
Here are 16 great ideas for how you and your family can celebrate this feast day in your own Catholic home. Note that some of these activities might not be ideal during COVID-19 season, nevertheless, can be done safely within your family this year. Read more 

7 ways to celebrate All Souls Day as a family
All Souls Day is a time for families to reflect on those loved ones who are no longer with us. Make this day a special day for the whole family, past and present. Aleteia shares some activities that are both spiritual and sometimes joyful, to share as a whole family on this special day. Read more 

Here is a wonderful opportunity to tie in our Catholic Faith in the carving of pumpkins this month. As shared in Catholic Cuisine, many children look forward to choosing a pumpkin and carving their "Saint-O-Lantern! Check out these inspiring Saint-O-Lanterns

You and your family may also enjoy their recipes for Liturgical Seasons & Feast Days throughout the year.



Support Your Kids' Faith

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Danielle Bean says: "You can say all you want to your kids about the importance of having a prayer life, going to Mass, and receiving the sacraments, but if you are not doing those things, none of what you say matters."

Here are some ideas and resources to help you shape your kids' faith lives. Read show snippets / Listen to podcast


Livestreamed Masses

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Livestreamed Masses

  • Full schedule of Parish Livestream Masses are available at: https://www.catholicyyc.ca  
  • If you are a TELUS Optik subscriber, you can watch livestream masses and prayer events in Channel 876 (choose "Diocese of Calgary" logo)
  • If you are a cable TV subscriber, you can access Salt+Light TV, Canada's Catholic network, for a nominal fee each month. Or view online at saltandlighttv.org/live. Daily TV Mass, produced by the National Catholic Broadcasting Council, is broadcast four times a day at 4:30 am, 9 am, 2 pm and 8:30 pm (MT). Check the S+L Schedule for broadcasts of Sunday Mass from the Vatican. Daily masses are also available on Shalom World TV at shalomworldtv.org
  • Televised Mass is also available to those who subscribe to EWTN and Vision TV. Click on the links or their schedules


Parish Spiritual Development memo Fall 2019

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DATE: September 30, 2019
FROM: Shari Guinta, first vice-president and national chairperson of spiritual development
TO: Parish chairpersons of spiritual development

As mentioned previously, I encourage having prayer services before meetings and offering workshops, retreats and programs for members and parishioners. Like Lent, Advent is rich with prayer services and beautiful retreat offerings from which members could benefit.

Although many council meetings begin with mass, I encourage planning at a minimum an opening and closing prayer or reflection for all meetings. Consider using the many prayers and services offered as League resources on the national website. Ask members what they want. At the end of each year or the beginning of a new year, I suggest offering members a questionnaire to quickly and easily complete. Consider asking questions such as:

Read more ...