An increase in government spending on rest home workers and overseas aid, as well as concern for a range of social issues were part of a two-day annual conference last month of the more than 90 Catholic Women’s League members from Wellington Archdiocese.
National President Tui Pasco joined them from Invercargill and International Secretary, Fae Robertson, came from Queenstown.
They heard addresses from Archbishop John Dew, Br Kieran Fenn and Fae Robertson. Br Kieran used the Book of Job to show that God doesn’t love a man because that man is good but because God is. Many members resolved to reread the Book of Job in the light of his talk. Fae told of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations’ campaign for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide and, following a message from the Pope, taking ‘Building a Culture of Peace’ as a goal statement.
Hannah and Bernie from Challenge 2000 described its work with troubled young people, and Fr Paul Shannahan spoke about part of the Pontifical Mission Society, the St Peter the Apostle Fund, to which the League has contributed since 1960. (All branches make donations annually as well as supporting a designated mission in the Pacific.)
The whole was punctuated by liturgies prepared by a team headed by Chaplain, Sister Mary Gordon, including a moving thanksgiving for deceased members.
The remits passed at the AGM called for an increase in the level of foreign aid towards the 0.7% of GDP agreed to in the UN Millennium Development Programme and for a boost in funding paid to DHBs tagged for the wages of rest home carers and nurses.
The Social Concerns Convenor, Ethne Wyndham-Smith, said the League should not be deterred from putting forward views that reflect Catholic moral teaching – in fact they were encouraged to do so by the NCW Conference’s keynote speakers.
Ongoing concerns are behind the Drinking Age Bill and levels of poverty in NZ, notably for grandparents raising grandchildren. She quoted a piece by Jim Hopkins in the NZ Herald which said that abortion is worse violence than smacking and pointed to this country’s inconsistency in making the first a matter of parental choice and seeking to remove that choice in the latter through the parental smacking bill. The League continues to support a ban on private fireworks and party pills and is studying material on stem cell research, the mandatory use of iodised salt by bakeries, and measures to improve access to dental care for children outside the primary school years.
Mission Convenor, Anne Lumb, reported that archdiocesan CWL giving for 2005-2006 was $34,295.88 in the national total of $223,600.84 – figures that include both overseas Missions and NZ charities and which in Wellington represent donations of $64.35 per head.
The Wellington branch of the League was able to give $3,035 to Autism New Zealand as the ‘At Home Appeal’ in 2006 and it received a record amount of more than $10,000 in total. This year’s appeal is for the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation, specifically Hodgkin’s Disease. The National Mission Project 2007 is a grant of $2,827 to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Mapuifagalele, W Samoa, and the Golden Jubilee Fund is going to the Sisters of the Assumption’s Refugee Centre in Hamilton. Letters included in the display from the remote Mission stations record how much they value the contact with and prayers from CWL members, as well as the financial help.
Jacqui Gilligan, archdiocesan WUCWO secretary, reminded members that WUCWO is the official source for and within the Church on women’s issues and that it has representation on outside bodies such as the UN, and UNESCO. She quoted the international president, Karen Hurley from Australia: ‘our aim is to be peacemakers sowing the seeds of peace’, which is reflected in the liturgy for WUCWO Day on 13 May prepared by the women of Mali.
The theme of peace and social concern were continued in the reports received from PPSEAWA and the local Branch of NCW. They recurred in an item of general business from Miramar Branch which also recommended joint action with our local, fellow Christian Churches.
The conference ended with the re-election of Judith Curry as archdiocesan president and Carolyn Johns as vice-president. Maeve Ryan took over from Kathy van Duyn as lone leaguer’s secretary.
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