Provincial Executive

About the Catholic Women’s League

Spiritual Advisor
Fr. David John spiritadv@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Fr. John

Early Years and Education I was born in the South West of England in a small village. We had a farm on one side and a market garden on the other. It was rural.

I hated school and academically I did not do well. My father was the principal of the high school I attended, and my mother was also a teacher there. To get me through school they had to mercilessly shove an education into me – for which I am now very grateful. I gained just enough grades to get to university. At this point things started to look up and my next four years of study gained me an honours degree in Mathematics (which I think would be the equivalent to a Masters in North America). This gave me an opening to work in the ‘Lloyds of London’ insurance market as an ‘information analyst’. With technology advancing and the economy booming this was a good time for the Lloyds market and for many of us who were working there. Yet I would look at the colleagues I worked with and wouldn’t see people who looked like me; we were having fun, but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled.

Into Priesthood With nothing to lose I sold up and went off to seminary. And again, while I struggled to recognise an image of myself in the somewhat aloof and very academic priests who taught us, I started to see in the Church’s description of priesthood a vision of something attractive, enticing and meaningful. So, I spent six difficult years at seminary. Many see their college years as good years, I didn’t; I couldn’t see Christ’s face in the rigidity of this institution. But ordination to the priesthood was not an end point, it was very much a starting point.

For my first ten years of ministry I worked in my home diocese of Plymouth, which covers the South-West of England – the counties of Devon, Dorset and Cornwall. I had the most wonderful bishop anyone could have, Bp. Christopher Budd, who retired in 2013. He was a real father to me and to the whole diocese. Our diocese had traditionally supplied a number of priests to parishes in Kenya, but as time went by they weren’t needed, so Bp. Christopher decided to offer a priest for ministry in another part of the world where there was a shortage, and that was Canada. As I knew Canada well – having travelled from coast-to-coast-to-coast – I was the priest chosen for this mission.

For my next ten years I served in the Prince George diocese, in the north-eastern corner of B.C. in the mountainous area around Chetwynd & Tumbler Ridge, up to the dams near Hudson’s Hope. Here I first met people from the First Nations community and could not believe how warmly they embraced me. I would have happily stayed in these parishes for the rest of my life, that was how much I felt at home. Then nine years ago I was moved to the diocese of Nelson where I looked after the Slocan Valley for seven years and more recently the Elk Valley which includes Fernie and Sparwood, where I now reside. For the vast majority of my ministry I have served in smaller communities, and this has meant serving three, four or even five churches at the same time. My boast when I was in Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge was that my parishes in Canada covered a greater area than my bishop’s whole diocese in Britain! My current parish is the smallest I have had in Canada as it is only 130km from the most northerly church to the most southerly one. Thankfully I like driving.

Travel and Solitude And it is not just driving but travelling in general is something I have enjoyed. My parents were great travellers and took me all over Europe and beyond. Also, I took a year off between school and college (as one does) and went around the world – literally – getting as far as New Zealand. By the time I was twenty-one I had visited twenty-one different countries. Since then I have lost count! But at some point, perhaps as I passed my thirtieth country, I lost the travel bug. What I like doing now is going somewhere and stopping there; ‘Let’s not just see a place, let’s really feel it!’ And that place is not a city or a tourist centre, for me the smaller the place the better. Using my 4x4 or my mountain bike or my canoe, me and my dog have found some very hidden and deserted places. I think this is because since I was young my real love in life has been solitude. ‘Heaven-on-earth’ for me was a three week stay up in the north of Sweden, by myself in a cabin where I saw no one and spoke to no one. The only way this trip could have been better would have been if it had lasted longer. My ‘If I won the Lottery…’ dream is not a flash car or yacht, but a small, simple cabin in the middle of nowhere – oh for stillness and silence!

Ministry As I get older I think I am getting more introverted, or at least, I enjoy peace and quiet more and more. My sister-in-law says that I am definitely “on the spectrum” somewhere (but she thinks all males are on the spectrum somewhere!) And if I am, I am! Certainly, I do like to celebrate the liturgy precisely – just ask the sacristan how I like the altar breads to be neatly arranged. As a priest there is so much I am not good at: paperwork, meetings, organising, and much more; but I try to exercise the ministry of presence – just being there for people. Liturgy along with the scriptures are the parts of my ministry I enjoy most. And I have an overriding belief that it does not depend upon us, we are channels for God; we should let the scriptures and the liturgy be the voice, and trust that God will speak through His Word and touch people through His Sacraments, I so much believe that if we as a worshiping community, priests and people together, could get these right, then others will know, understand and believe.

I feel it is a privilege to be the B.C. and Yukon Provincial Spiritual Advisor.


President
Gisela Montague president@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Gisela

Gisela joined the League in 1985 in Lahr, Germany where her husband had a military posting. Since then Gisela has served in various positions in the League; at parish level as communication chair and secretary, organization chair/president-elect, president and past president; at the Vancouver diocesan level as communication and legislation chair, organization chair/president-elect, president and past president. At provincial level she has served as resolution and legislation chair and as president-elect/organization chair and is currently serving as provincial president.

As a military wife Gisela has lived in different provinces and now lives with her husband in Chilliwack, BC. They have three adult children and four grandchildren.

When their children were small she was involved with their schools. At parishes she has constructed banners, coordinated several CWL bazaars, dinners and anniversaries, served with the Outreach team, Prison Ministry, Project Advance and implemented the Parish Information Fair. She has served on the pastoral council and has been a choir member for numerous years as well as being active in her own CWL parish council.

Gisela is passionate about the League that has tremendously enhanced her faith life. She believes that as members, catholic women possess great potential for service to church, community and the world.


President-Elect / Organization
Sharon Geiger organization@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Sharon

Sharon was born in Kamloops, raised in Oliver, went to the Notre Dame University in Nelson and received her teacher’s certificate and taught school for a couple of years.

She is married with four children, 11 grandchildren and another one on the way.

She joined the Catholic Women’s League in 1975 in Mackenzie. This was a very good way to meet more Catholic women in the community and be involved in the church.

In 1985 they moved to Salmon Arm where she became very in involved with the community as well as in the church. Sharon held many positions on the parish CWL executive before becoming president and then Spiritual Family Life and Organization on the Diocesan level before becoming Diocesan president.

Sharon is now working at the church as Faith Formation for Children coordinator, RCIA coordinator and catechist as well as being involved in Adult education.

On the provincial level she has held the Spiritual Development, Christian Family Life Chairperson, 1st Vice-President and Resolutions Chairperson. Sharon now holds the position of President-elect/Organization.

She loves the league and working with people.


1st Vice-President / Spiritual Development
Catherine L’Heureux spiritualdev@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Catherine

I am an active member of St. James Council in Vernon BC. During my 23 years as a member I have always been on either the parish or diocesan executive. Currently I am the Spiritual Development Chairperson and 1st Vice-President.

One of our five children described me as a mix of St. Joan of Arc and Mary Poppins. I enjoy recruiting League members, all things Canadian, sewing, swimming, praying and a good laugh.

I feel very honoured to be the Spiritual Development Chair. I look forward to finding out what is spiritually important to our members and implementing their ideas.


2nd Vice-President / Communications
Sylvia Jurys comm@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Sylvia

Sylvia emigrated from Manchester, England in 1967 and held many interesting and challenging managerial positions with a major oil company until early retirement in 2004 and afterwards studied at the Fondation le Cordon Bleu and graduated with the Diplome de Cuisine le Cordon Bleu, and moved to West Kelowna to open a cooking school in her home.

In 1971, shortly after being married to Ray, she moved to a new parish and joined the Catholic Women’s League. Since then she has held most positions at the council level, was the communications chair at the diocesan level in Toronto with Betty Ann Brown (now Betty Ann Brown Davison) and now a past national president. Betty Ann was, and still is, a tremendous influence in mentoring the vision of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada “as its members being a beautiful tapestry of women who work wholeheartedly for God and Canada”

Sylvia has served on the Nelson Diocesan Council as Resolutions Chair, President-Elect and Organization, President and now Immediate Past President.

Sylvia is a founding member of REAL Women of Canada, and is currently a board member at Camp Quality Canada, a camp for children with cancer.

She is an active member at her home parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, in West Kelowna, and serves on the pastoral council, is the coordinator of the ministers of the word, and the altar server ministry, a lector, minister of the eucharist and a dedicated minister of communion to the sick.

Sylvia is passionate about the League and firmly believes that a personal invitation to potential new members is key, and by leading the league by example to encourage seasoned members to step up into leadership positions, will grow the league to its’ true potential over the years to come.

It is my privilege to serve on the BC & Yukon Provincial Council as Communications Chair; let us together as sisters celebrate the centennial of our wonderful organization for God and Canada and for many years to come!


Secretary
Laura Esposito secretary@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Laura

I have been a member of the Catholic Women’s League for 25 years becoming Parish president of my local council in 1999 and, over the years, have held most committee chairs at either the parish or the diocesan level. I was appointed BC & Yukon Provincial Communications Chairperson in 2015 in the middle of a term, and was asked to continue in this role after the election in 2016. In June 2018, in Whitehorse, I was elected BC & Yukon Provincial Secretary.

I volunteer for a variety of organizations. I am on the board of the Friends of the Library and on my local amateur theatre society helping to put on a variety of plays and productions. I am also a lector in my parish and regularly help make soup for our church’s soup kitchen which, every Sunday, helps feed those less fortunate in our community.

I enjoy a variety of crafts, especially crocheting, knitting, cross-stitching and embroidery. Making crafts is totally relaxing and rewarding. Yearly, I, along with others in my parish, make many scarves, mitts, and toques which are distributed to those less fortunate in our community who frequent our weekly soup kitchen. I am also an avid reader. I especially enjoy reading historical fiction, travel books, biographies and autobiographies. I belong to a book club which meets once a month and here I am challenged to read books which are sometimes outside of my comfort zone. . I have had the privilege of travelling to many destinations in the world. It has opened my eyes to the richness of a variety of cultures and a variety of people. The fact that I can speak four languages (Italian, French, Spanish and English) has helped me immensely when travelling.

I am a teacher. Teaching is and never was a job for me, but a vocation. Retired now, I continue to help out in our Catholic School whenever I can, and it is a blessing when I am called in. I am passionate about the League and all it stands for. We, as CWL members, make a very positive difference in our Church, our communities and in the world at large. I am so proud to be a Catholic Women’s League member and encourage all women to join this wonderful organization.


Treasurer
Suzanne Eng treasurer@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Suzanne

Suzanne Eng was elected for her second term as Treasurer of BC & Yukon Provincial Council in 2018. She is a Certified Professional Accountant and holds a Bachelors degree in Mathematics. She has worked in the private sector for many years and together with her husband was the co-owner of a successful commercial greenhouse for seventeen years. Currently she is the accountant for a jewellery company in Vancouver.

Since joining the League in 1993, Suzanne has served as treasurer, resolutions chair, and president at the parish level. At the diocesan level, Suzanne served as legislation and communications chairs, as well as two terms as treasurer. While Suzanne served as legislation chair, she worked with the group that has evolved into the Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition see, www.thetraffickedhuman.org

Widowed since 2001, Suzanne enjoys travelling to visit her three grown children, being involved in her parish activities, and going to CWL conventions.

Suzanne has always been involved in the music ministry, singing in parish choirs since about the age of 8. As St. Augustine is quoted, “She who sings her prayer, prays twice”. Suzanne has also served on the evangelization committee and school bursary committee at her home parish.

Suzanne loves attending conventions. It provide the opportunity for members to learn more about the work of the league, not just as ”bake sale ladies”, but known as women who stand for social justice, spirituality, and sisterhood.

Past-President
Evelyn Rigby pastpres@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Evelyn

After retirement from teaching in 1996, I joined the League to be of more service to my parish. I was immediately appointed Communications Chair, in hindsight a perfect position for me because I knew very little about the scope of League work. By the end of the first year after attending and reporting on every event and project, I became much enlightened, and after the president-elect moved away I was persuaded by my parish president, Eva Dobozy, to take on even more responsibilities, eventually succeeding her as president.

My decision to run for president was strange in that I had vowed many years previously that I would never take on such a role in any organization. As a very young teacher I had been elected president of a local group, and had experienced difficulty running meetings, especially bringing discussions to a successful conclusion. I am deeply indebted to my parish president who by her example and willingness to help influenced my change my mind.

Later with the encouragement of my pastor I ran for office at the diocesan level, where I served as Legislation, Spiritual Development and President-Elect. By the time I became Vancouver diocesan president I had overcome my fear of running meetings thanks to a two-day parliamentary training workshop led by John Noonan, and tips gathered from subsequent meetings of the Parliamentarian Association of BC. As diocesan past president I was tasked with League Development and derived great satisfaction from setting up and/or re-activating seven councils In the Lower Mainland. Elected to the provincial council in 2010, I have served as Secretary, Communications, President-Elect, President and now Past President.

I have been involved in many League projects, which without the help and inspiration of my League sisters would not have been attempted. My proudest moment was witnessing the passage of a co-written resolution to restore the religious content to Canadian Christmas postage stamps at the 2005 National Convention. In addition to my treasured Maple Leaf Service pin and Life Membership, I have been the recipient of many blessings: prayerful support during my husband’s illness, friendships with strong women of faith, gentle guidance of spiritual advisors and patient mentoring by many League sisters.

After completing an exciting and fulfilling term as provincial president, I am looking forward to embracing the position of Past President and attending to its five requirements in order to smooth the path for our new provincial president and her executive.

I am happy to belong to this organization which provides some of the best opportunities for Catholic women to develop and nurture their God-given talents in service to Him, our country and our world.


Christian Family Life
Blanca Stead cfl@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Blanca

Blanca Stead is the Christian Family Life Chairperson of the BC & Yukon Provincial Council. She lives in Duncan, Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. She is a retired librarian and now volunteers as a part-time archivist for the Cowichan Historical Society.

In 1989, she joined her CWL parish council, and was attracted by the League’s mission statement. Since then she has served in most positions at the Parish and Diocesan level and was appointed Provincial Legislation Chairperson for the period 2016-2018.

By her involvement in presenting workshops for the League, she acts on her beliefs that by educating members about our organization we promote it and hopefully will ensure more involvement and commitment within their Council.

In her home parish of St. Edward, the Confessor, she is actively involved with Liturgy, assists the Pastor in the Funeral ministry, and is part of the CWL hospitality committee.


Resolutions
Sharon Ciebin resolutions@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Sharon

Sharon is a retired banker who lives in Coquitlam, BC. She is married to Terry and the mother of two adult children and 2 grandchildren.

Sharon has served in her parish council and diocesan council, in many leadership positions, and this is her second term on the BC & Yukon Provincial Council. She previously held the Community Life Chair and currently serves as the Resolution Chair. She is a Past President of the Vancouver Diocesan Council. While she has created and facilitated many courses over the years, the one that stands out for her is Catch the Fire which she and her team delivered 13 times.

Sharon believes in stewardship and has supported her parish community for many years serving in the ministries of Religious Education, Squirettes Leadership, Lector, Eucharistic minister and RCIA coordinator. She is proud to be a founding member of her home parish, St. Clare of Assisi.

Her most recent activities include being active with one refugee family, Sacristan, member of the board of Talitha Koum Society, and member of the Archdiocese of Vancouver Anti- Human Trafficking Committee.

Sharon realizes she has grown from every leadership role but found Community Life fulfilled her passion for taking action to assist the marginalized of the world. She credits the structure and vision of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada in providing her with opportunities to make a difference in Canada and the world, which included representing the League at the Federal Government Justice & Human Trafficking Committee hearings in Vancouver in early 2018. She looks forward to bringing our members concerns to our Provincial Government over the next two years.


Community Life
Susan Steiner clife@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Susan

I am presently Chairperson Community Life on the Provincial Council and an active member of the Catholic Women’s League at St. Andrew’s Parish here in Fraser Lake. I have been a member since 1993 and have served as President, Past President, Secretary, Resolutions and Legislation Chairperson.

At the Diocesan Level I have served as President, Past President, Secretary, Resolutions, Legislation and Communications Chairperson.

I am a retired widow and live on a ranch in Fraser Lake, BC (Northern BC) and am mother of two girls and grandmother of two girls and a boy.

I am involved in my home parish as a Lector and Eucharistic minister. I volunteer as a board member of the Seniors Society in Fraser Lake and my position on the Board is Secretary. I am also a member of the Quilters Guild here in Fraser Lake.

I am so proud to be a member of this great organization.


Education and Health
Kathy Weswick eandh@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Kathy

Kathy has been a member of the Catholic Women’s League since 1989. She has served as president of Sacred Heart Council, Victoria, and president of Victoria Diocesan Council. She has been on various committees, including community life, resolutions, legislation, and organization. She is currently the chairperson of the Education and Health Committee for the Provincial Council.

Kathy likes to read, travel, curl, garden, and work for organizations of the Catholic Church, especially the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, and the Catholic Women’s League. She proclaims the Word at Mass. She is on the Archives and Finance Committees of the Particular Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Victoria, and is the representative of the International Twinning Commission Committee for the Americas. Kathy feels that the League has helped her grow in confidence and ability. She recommends that ladies in the League accept the prompting of the Holy Spirit and accept the challenges and activities that are offered to them.


Legislation
Sheila Doherty leg@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Sheila

Sheila Doherty is the Chairperson of Legislation for the BC and Yukon Provincial council. She lives in Kamloops with her husband, Chris, and is the mother of two sons. She owns and operates Sheila’s Family Daycare in her home four days per week and it has been in operation since 1989.

Sheila joined Holy Family’s CWL parish council in 1997 and has held several positions in that council. She was elected to the Diocesan council in 2005 and was chairperson of Education and Health, Resolutions, Community Life, Organization and President. She currently is the Past-president and this position will be completed in April 2019.

Sheila has facilitated many ‘Catch the Fire’ workshops and others while on the Diocesan council as well as attended many conventions at all levels.

Sheila co-convened the 2014 Provincial convention and is presently on a committee helping to plan the 75th Anniversary of the Kamloops diocese in 2020.

In her home parish of Holy Family, Sheila is a Eucharistic minister, sings in the choir, helps with funerals and serves coffee after Sunday Mass for the Hospitality ministry.

Sheila believes that every Catholic woman should belong to the League so that our voice will continue to be strong as we all work ‘For God and Canada’.