Provincial Executive

About the Catholic Women’s League

Spiritual Advisor

Fr. John Garden

More about Fr. Garden

Fr. John Garden is the youngest of ten children of the late Elroy and Elda Garden. His formative years were lived in Prince George, B.C., and White Rock, B.C. Prior to entering seminary and theological formation, he obtained a Bachelor of Education degree from U.B.C. (Vancouver, BC), and subsequently taught at Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Prince George and the Vancouver Archdiocese. He then entered seminary and theological formation at St. Joseph’s Seminary and Newman Theological College (Edmonton, AB) where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree.

Fr. John was ordained to the ministerial priesthood on June 15, 2004, by Most Rev. Gerald Wiesner, OMI. After ordination, he completed graduate diplomas in ethics and canon law from St. Paul University (Ottawa, ON), and a Master of Education (Counselling Specialization) degree from U.N.B.C. (Prince George, BC). He presently serves in the Diocese of Prince George as chancellor, counselling therapist, and pastor of Immaculate Conception parish-school community located in Prince George, BC.

Besides his interest in theology (particularly theological anthropology), and the richness of our Catholic Christian tradition, Fr. John’sfavourite past times are music and singing, reading, socializing with family and friends, and eating good food (Yum!).


Catherine L’Heureux

More about Catherine

Catherine’s full name is Catherine Mary, a name she only heard when she was in trouble, which was often as a child. She was born into a traditional catholic family with 12 children and was raised in Vancouver. She attended Little Flower Academy for 12 years where the Sisters of St. Ann were wonderful mentors, teachers and friends.

Catherine spent her summers at Rosen Lake near Cranbrook in the Nelson diocese. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She and her husband, Art, have been married for 49 years and they have five children and 16 grandchildren. Catherine has been an active member of the League for 26 years and has always been on the executive at either the parish, diocesan or provincial level. Today her home parish is St. James in Vernon.

After the children left home, Catherine spent more time volunteering in her community and parish. She enjoys the sisterhood very much because the women are pious, selfless, hardworking, humorous, creative and intelligent. Catherine likes belonging to an organization that is seeking to transform the world through justice, harmony, and love. She believes that the solution to every problem is love and to spread that love around because God is Love. League members need to talk about God to everyone because He is our hope and salvation. Catherine’s interests include public speaking, leadership, hiking, swimming, and hanging out with God, family and friends.

It is her great honour to serve as president for the 2023-2025 term.


Sylvia Jurys

More about Sylvia

Sylvia immigrated to Toronto from Manchester, England in 1967 and held many interesting and challenging managerial positions with a major oil company until early retirement in 2004. She studied at the Fondation le Cordon Bleu and graduated with the Diplome de Cuisine le Cordon Bleu, then moved to West Kelowna BC where she opened a cooking school in her home.

She married Ray in 1970 and they purchased their first home in Scarborough, Ontario. Sylvia joined Holy Spirit Parish and was invited to become a member the Catholic Women’s League in 1971. Since then, she has held most positions at the parish council level and was also communications chair at the Toronto regional diocesan level with chairperson, Betty Ann Brown, who is 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 and in her words “Its members are a beautiful tapestry of women who work wholeheartedly for God and Canada”. Her words still ring true to Sylvia today.

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

She lost her husband to cancer in 2015 and is now devoting her life to the Catholic Women’s League of Canada and as a “sister of service” at her home parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, in West Kelowna, where she serves on the pastoral council, as the coordinator of the ministers of the word, and in the altar server ministry. She is also a lector, minister of the eucharist and a dedicated minister of communion to the sick.

Sylvia has served on the Nelson diocesan council as resolutions chair, president-elect and organization, president and past president.

She is passionate about the League and believes that a personal invitation to all catholic women to become members is key to its continuing sustainability. Sylvia believes that leading by example and enthusiasm will encourage seasoned members to step up into leadership positions to grow our organization to its true potential over the years to come.

It has been her privilege to serve on the BC & Yukon provincial council as second vice- president and it is an honour to be vice-president and chairperson of community life for the current 2023-2025 term where she plans to network with all chairpersons of community life to expand the role in the communities and worldwide.

Sylvia is looking forward to being with her sisters in our wonderful organization as we embrace the vision of the future together for many years to come!


Renee Johnson

More about Renee

Renée lived in Edmonton, Alberta where she attended the Edmonton Catholic School System and the University of Alberta graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Classics followed by a year of Education. She eventually began working for Revenue Canada (as it was then) and discovered her true passion – accounting! She completed her accounting designation via correspondence courses and night school receiving her designation as a Certified Management Accountant in 1991. This changed to Certified Public Accountant when the professional accounting organizations merged. Her career with Revenue included public enquiries, audit and appeals. She spent the last 15 years of her career as a Tax Avoidance auditor. She was always much involved in the technical education of the staff.

After retirement, Renée and her husband, Rick, fled the land of giant mosquitoes and long, bitterly cold, icy winters for Vancouver Island. They found a home in Campbell River and St Patrick’s Parish. Renée joined the CWL in 2012 after meeting some of the members through the parish gardening club. Not too much later, she became the CWL Parish Council treasurer and, two years later, the president. This was followed by five years as the CWL Victoria Diocesan Council treasurer. Renée is active in parish life as a member of the Finance Committee, lector, Eucharistic minister and lay leader of the Celebration of the Word.

Renée has learned a great deal about social justice and the Catholic response to important issues through her membership in the CWL. She is passionate about the learning opportunities presented by the League through events such as workshops and conventions. She is honoured to have met and worked with women of faith and action – women who care deeply about how society’s response to injustice affects the lives of everyone, particularly those with no one to speak for them. Women who take this concern and actualize it by studying the issues deeply and, after careful consideration, courageously bringing these issues before government.

Rick and Renée have been married for over 50 years. They have two sons and two grandsons. They love to travel the world exploring history and discovering different cultures.


Kathy Weswick

More about Kathy

Kathy is the current secretary of the BC & Yukon Provincial Council – for a second time, and Sacred Heart Parish Council Social Justice Chairperson. Kathy has been a CWL member for many years, serving on the parish, diocesan and provincial councils, and has recently been honored with a Life Membership pin. Kathy joined the CWL, in part, in gratitude for the ladies of the CWL who made the parish bazaar such a success with their valuable work for the people of her parish, and was impressed by the resolutions, which are part of the action of the members.

Kathy was born in the Crowsnest Pass and raised as the eldest of a family of five children. She was educated as a hospital nurse and has since received her undergraduate degree. She is now retired and spends her time volunteering, mostly in administrative positions, for both the CWL and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Specifically, she enjoys contributing to the organization of the archives, and serving our neighbors in the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul pantry. Other interests for her are reading, gardening, travel, and visiting her young grandson. She lives in Victoria with her husband and sister-in-law.

Kathy is grateful for the many ways that time and efforts with the CWL have given her gifts of skills, confidence, and grace. She encourages ladies to remember that it is the Holy Spirit who is prompting you to serve through invitations, to join and within the League. It is an excellent way to meet beautiful ladies, have fun, and share your God-given gifts, time, and talents.


Sharon Geiger

More about Sharon

Sharon is the past president of the BC and Yukon provincial council. She 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 and 12 grandchildren. 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 chairs of spiritual development, 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 chair positions of spiritual development, christian family life, resolutions, 1st vice-president and president-elect/organization. Sharon loves the League and working with people.

Chair of Faith

Victoria Oppertshauser

More about Victoria

Victoria is one of nine children. She was born and raised in Manila and studied at St. Scholastica’s College and St. Paul’s University. She has an Associate in Arts Degree and when the children were teenagers, she went back to school to study Occupational Therapy at SUNY. However, she did not get the degree because the family was unexpectedly sent on a posting to Hong Kong where the same course was taught in Cantonese, sadly a language she did not speak.

The family went on several postings overseas because Murray, her husband, was a Canadian Foreign Service Officer. It was not easy to be uprooted every two or three years, but it was a rare opportunity for the family to study people, their languages, cultures and traditions firsthand. She says she learned more from living in different countries than she would have sitting in classrooms or reading books. She was awestruck when she met Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata at the Mother House in India, felt fulfilled working with the poor through volunteer work and was captivated by the kindness of people who made her feel at home.

They have been blessed with six children and eight grandchildren and she confides that her life often revolves around them. Murray retired in 2001 so they returned to Canada, made Kelowna their home and St. Pius X their church. She has been lector, RCIC teacher, and coordinator for a diocesan convention. She is currently a eucharistic minister, social outreach coordinator and social convenor for parish council. Murray is a eucharistic minister, an active member of the Knights of Columbus and has held the positions of grand knight and district deputy grand knight.

Victoria joined the League in 2005 and became chairperson for community life, organization chairperson and then president. At the diocesan level, she took the same path.

Chair of Service

Laura Esposito

More about Laura

Laura has been a member of the Catholic Women’s League for 28 years becoming parish president of her local council in 1999 and, over the years, she has held most committee chairs at either the parish or the diocesan level. She 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, she was elected BC & Yukon provincial secretary. Laura ran for election again in 2023 and is now chair of service where she prays to serve well in this capacity.

Laura volunteers for a variety of organizations. She is treasurer on the board of the Prince Rupert Friends of the Library and is also on the planning committee of the city’s library’s 100th Anniversary which will take place on May 6, 2022. Laura is also a lector in her parish and regularly help makes soup for the church’s soup kitchen which, every Sunday, helps feed those less fortunate in the community. She also organizes the list of the lectors, greeters and eucharistic ministers for each of the Masses, and publishes when each person is scheduled to serve.

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

Laura is a teacher. Teaching is and never was a job for her, but a vocation. Retired now, she continues to help in the catholic school whenever she can, and it is a blessing when she is called in to substitute for one of the teachers.  Laura is passionate about the League and all it stands for. CWL members make a very positive difference in the church, communities and in the world at large. She is so proud to be a Catholic Women’s League member and encourages all women to join this wonderful organization.

Chair of Social Justice

Angelina Stiglich

More about Angelina

Angelina lives in Surrey, BC with her husband, Angel Figueroa. She is a Senior Manager, Commercial Risk with RBC and has worked in various positions in banking for 34 years. Her husband, originally from Puerto Rico, relocated to Canada in 2015 to marry her. Angel works for ICBC as an Injury Adjuster and is a District Deputy in the Knights of Columbus. They share two stepdaughters, Amy and Lynette and are aunt and uncle and great-aunt and great-uncle to more than 30 adults and children.

She is a 2nd generation CWL member and remembers helping her mother at church events as a child. On her parish CWL council in Langley, BC Angelina served as secretary, chair of legislation, chair of communications, and as president elect, president and past-president. In 2011, she was elected to the Vancouver diocesan executive and served her first two-year term as resolutions chair. She then went on to be community life chair, president-elect, president and past-president. During her tenure on the Vancouver diocesan executive council, she served as a Catch The Fire facilitator and on the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee for the Archdiocese of Vancouver and chaired a multi-level League resolutions committee which brought forward three successful resolutions.

Angelina participated in reconciliation events, and she traces her First Nations roots through her maternal grandmother. She has served on the Board of Directors for Domestic Abuse Services, Our Lady of Good Counsel Society and continues to work as a volunteer in the Society Thrift Store and at various fundraising events. In 2010, she was an Olympic Torch Bearer for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

She loves the League and the gift of sisterhood it has brought her to life. Angelina always enthusiastically promotes the League whenever she can.