Provincial Executive

About the Catholic Women’s League

Spiritual Advisor

Fr. David John spiritadv@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Fr. David

Early Years and EducationI 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 PriesthoodWith 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 SolitudeAnd 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 4×4 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!

MinistryAs 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

Sharon Geiger  president@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Sharon

Sharon is the 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.

President-Elect / Organization

Catherine L’Heureux  organization@bcyukoncwl.com

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-elect for the 2021-2023 term.

1st Vice-President / Community Life

Sylvia Jurys clife@bcyukoncwl.com

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 chairperson of communications for the 2018 – 2021 term, and it is an honour to be first vice-president and chairperson of community life for the current 2021-2023 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!

2nd Vice-President / Communications

Christa Grillmair  comm@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Christa

Christa is a wife to one, mother to two, grandmother to four and sister to about 70,600 across Canada. She was born in Vienna and immigrated to Canada with her parents when she was ten years old. She and her husband, Norbert, have been married for 52 years and have lived in Calgary, the Okanagan and Lower Mainland. They are now enjoying retirement in Nanaimo where both are active at their parish, Holy Trinity. Norbert is Grand Knight and Christa serves on the parish pastoral council.

Her education and over 30-year work history were primarily focused on management, marketing, sales and training. She developed, implemented and managed marketing programs and provided strategic direction and relationship management to clients. Since retiring, she has had consulting contracts focused on change management and the development of policies and procedures.

Christa joined the Catholic Women’s League in 2008 at St. Claire of Assisi in Coquitlam and soon became organization chair and president. After moving to Nanaimo in 2013, she joined St. Peter’s CWL council and held positions in resolutions, communications, organization and president. In 2019, she helped to launch a new council in her home parish, Holy Trinity. In 2020, she was awarded the Maple Leaf Service pin.

Christa served as Victoria diocesan president for three years and during her tenure, she worked at implementing changes to meetings to make them more participatory and interesting by focusing less on reports and more on round-table discussions and personal testimonials. She developed and delivered several educational workshops including Mentoring and Communications and facilitated Catch the Fire and League of the Future. She has written several articles that have been published in The Canadian League magazine and The Diocesan Messenger, a Victoria Diocese publication. Christa served as co-chair when the Victoria diocesan team hosted the 2019 BC/Yukon provincial convention Nanaimo.

As a member of the marketing and communications implementation committees of the national board’s strategic plan, Christa is fully engaged in helping to deliver CWL’s five-year strategic plan. She believes that the League is built on a solid foundation but needs to adapt so that it remains relevant to today’s catholic women. In her position on the BC/Yukon provincial council as 2nd vice president and communications chair, Christa plans to showcase the strength of catholic women who are grounded in faith and always ready and willing to act.

Secretary

Linda Faust secretary@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Linda

Linda has been a member of the Catholic Women’s League for 33 years. In Salmon Arm, she has held positions of secretary, christian family life, communications, resolutions, organization, president and is currently past president. She is also acting as parish council secretary, managing memberships, and as the liaison for the CWL on parish council. In the parish, she has been a lector, head usher, helped with funerals, Sunday coffee, parish picnics, RCIA and Faith Formation of Children (FFC).

She has been married to Michael for 43 years, and was blessed with one child, a daughter Katherine, who with her husband Mark, have blessed them with four grandchildren, David, John, Esther and Joseph. Linda worked at Canada Post for 35 years and retired in 2015. After a year off, she worked at the Canadian Mental Health store in Salmon Arm for almost two years. She volunteered with “Friends at Christmas”, where 17 of the churches in Salmon Arm donate money and food, and feed approximately 200 people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. In the summer of 2021, Linda worked at two campgrounds, doing housekeeping, yard maintenance, working in the store and office, and pretty much anything they asked or trained her for.

Linda’s hobbies have included cross stitching, knitting, crocheting, but her heart always steers her to doing photo albums and quilting. Being out in nature, going for a walk with a friend in the cool mornings or even the rain, kayaking beautiful Shuswap Lake, or just having an iced tea under the shade of a tree has always bought her great joy and peace. Travelling has always interested her, from the east coast to the west coast, but she looks forward to the day of venturing to all the corners of BC.

2020 changed a lot of lives and as we try to find our new normal, Linda is open to seeing all blessings the Lord has in store for her. The past year and a half have not been easy, but she is living in hope and finding her daily blessings in the small and big happenings in life.

Treasurer

Sharon Ciebin  treasurer@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Sharon

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

She is a past president of the Vancouver Diocesan Council. Sharon has served in many leadership positions on her parish, diocesan and provincial councils, including chairs of spiritual, education and health, resolutions and community life. She now looks forward to her term serving as treasurer.

Sharon believes in stewardship and has supported her parish community for many years serving in the ministries of religious education, Squirettes of Mary 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, and as a member of the board of Talitha Koum Society and the Archdiocese of Vancouver Anti-Human Trafficking Committee.

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. Sharon knows that she has grown from every leadership role but found community life fulfilled her passion for taking action in assisting the marginalized of the world.

Sharon created and facilitated many courses over the years, but it is the Catch the Fire workshop, which she delivered on 13 occasions, that ignited her passion for the League and her call to ministry. She is now honoured to serve as lead of goal 4 and chair of the implementation committee of the CWL national board’s strategic plan.

Past-President

Gisela Montague  pastpres@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Gisela

Gisela joined the League in 1985 in Lahr, Germany where her husband had a military posting. Since then, she has served in various positions in the League; at parish level as communications 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, president-elect/organization chair. After serving three years as provincial president she currently holds the position of past 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.

Christian Family Life

Suzanne Eng  cfl@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Suzanne

Suzanne Eng served two terms as treasurer of the BC & Yukon provincial council. She is a Certified Professional Accountant and holds a Bachelor’s 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 17 years. Currently she is the accountant for a jewelry 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 (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 eight. 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 provides the opportunity for members to learn more about the work of the League, not just as ”bake sale ladies”, but as women who stand for social justice, spirituality, and sisterhood.

Resolutions

Angelina Stiglich  resolutions@bcyukoncwl.com

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.

Spiritual Development

Laura Esposito  spiritualdev@bcyukoncwl.com  

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 2021 and is now spiritual development chairperson 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.

Education and Health

Sheila Doherty  eandh@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Sheila

Sheila Doherty is the new chairperson of education and health 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.

She 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, president and past president.

Sheila has facilitated many Catch the Fire and other workshops while on the diocesan council as well as attending many conventions at all levels. She co-convened the 2014 provincial convention and was on a committee for the 75th anniversary of the Kamloops diocese.

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’.

Legislation

Gemma Gillis  leg@bcyukoncwl.com

More about Gemma

Gemma is the legislation chair for the BC & Yukon provincial council. She joined the Catholic Women’s League in Fraser Lake in 1970. A few years later she moved to Vanderhoof where she began to be more active in the League. During her time in Vanderhoof, Gemma served in most positions at the parish level including the role of president. In 2007 she transferred to Smithers, where she was asked to take the position of resolutions chair and later that of secretary. Gemma has served on the Prince George diocesan council as chair of resolutions, legislation, organization, spiritual development, vice-president and from 2017 to 2019 as diocesan president and is now past president.

She has seven children and 15 grandchildren. Gemma spent many years as a teacher in the catholic schools and for the last few years of her teaching career she was principal of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Vanderhoof. After retirement, Gemma moved to Smithers to be closer to some of her grandchildren. She is active in parish ministry and serves on the parish pastoral council.

Gemma believes that her journey has been influenced by the many wonderful women of faith she has met. Working with League members leads to recognition that together great things can be done for “For God and Canada”.