by ANNE LUMB
NEW PLYMOUTH — More than 140 Catholic Women’s League members were encouraged to express love in action after the example of Our Lady at the league’s biennial national conference.
The CWL’s theme — “Mary — our inspiration for love in action” — was further developed by Br Kieran Fenn, FMS, who was a keynote speaker at the conference in New Plymouth from July 11-14.
Br Kieran’s address covered Mary in her historical life, the changing view of her through the Church’s history, her role post-Vatican II and the need for women today to reclaim her as one of themselves in work, faith and service.
Br Kieran reminded CWL members that the service they do and the charity they promote is really evangelisation — being “God with skin on” to those they help. He suggested that the Church should be hospitable like Mary, welcoming all practically and visibly — metaphorically donning an apron to serve the least.
New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference executive officer Anne Dickinson, who has worked with Oceania region bishops, reviewed the CWL’s place in the Church of today, suggesting that the league recognise changes in the Pacific region, emphasise practical support to Pacific communities and welcome Pacific migrants.
Mrs Dickinson said the league’s aspiration to be a “voice of Catholic women” requires smart application in these “technologically savvy” times. She also stressed the role of hospitality as a means of making the Church and the league places where people wanted to belong.
A workshop facilitated by Sr Margaret Butler, OP, and Sr John Bosco, RSJ, helped members share insights and work on ways to apply the ideas presented by the speakers.
The CWL donated $12,560 to KidsCan, which was chosen for the league’s 2012 “At Home Appeal”. KidsCan supports children in 218 schools, with 119 schools on the waiting list. The CWL funds will help bring more schools into the programme.
The conference confirmed Anne Joyce as national president for another two years. Mission secretary Susan Lloyd and international secretary Kay Blackburn were farewelled and their successors Stephanie Swann and Coleen Blackmore were appointed.
The conference, which had opened with a Mass at St Joseph’s Church, closed with a joyful liturgy that expressed members’ commitment to reach out to all in faith and service. The liturgy featured a snowball waltz led by the retirees.