Lord of creation, in whose power are all times and seasons, bless this year and crown it with your goodness. Keep your church in peace, grant us every blessing and lead us to our eternal home. (The Catholic Prayer Book from Downside Abbey)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you were able to obtain some rest in December and have already resumed work for God and Canada, in line with our new National and Provincial themes now gracing the header of this Communique. Please ensure that in your next communique you remember to use these while welcoming new and continuing parish presidents.

Provincial Theme Applied during 2017
Two essential activities which I hope each BC and Yukon parish council, from the smallest to the largest, will consider at their meetings this year are:
(1) to undertake a supportive project for palliative care
(2) to undertake a once-a-month supportive project for refugees.
I suggest that your diocesan executive brainstorm activities for implementing these two requests, and provide a list of possible projects to each of their parish counterparts. Because so many councils lack chairpersons for all positions, make sure that you cc the parish president. Even small councils can be successful in finding one member to attempt a special task, and it is possible that by taking it on and making a success of it they may be inspired to take on that vacant executive position and eventually be led to explore further possibilities.
For example, with regard to project #1: The Spiritual Development Chair might suggest that the prayer on the cards received from national be recited by each member each day, as part of her morning prayer regimen, or that it be designated the Opening or Closing Prayer at meetings throughout the year. She could also ask to have it posted on her parish website. If there is a palliative care unit or hospice in their community members could, after consulting with the management, donate a useful item to the room.
As for project #2, a Community Life chair could suggest a once-a-month social event, say an invitation to supper in a member’s home, or the purchase of tickets to a cultural event. CFL could invite them for coffee and in the course of conversation tell them about the efforts of the local ProLife group. Education and Health could invite and accompany them to a school concert or a health presentation. Communications could send them a seasonal card, or pass on a copy of our League magazine. Legislation and Resolutions could invite them to sign a petition. The council could also give the lady of the family a gift of membership.
This does not mean that you are confined to these items, but that you ensure that some outreach will happen during 2017. Those councils who do not have a refugee family in their community could perhaps help a neighbouring council that does, or is in the planning stages to sponsor one.

The Provincial Convention-June 14-18, 2017 Kelowna
I have already met with the chair of the planning committee, Catherine Stroman and her Diocesan president Sylvia Jurys for some preliminary planning, and was very impressed with their early groundwork. I can assure you that your every need will be in good hands. Since then I have been contacting speakers, chief among them our National President, Margaret Ann Jacobs, and am delighted to tell you that she has agreed to come! In her role as National President she is a true model of courageous leadership, one who definitely epitomizes our new provincial theme, which is now gracing the heading of our BC &Yukon’s communiqués. I know you will enjoy her lively presentations which will include an update on work at the National level, and a workshop.
Please remind all your parish presidents that they have the privilege of accredited voting status at the provincial convention, and for that reason should encourage their councils, as early as possible in the year, to set money aside to help them attend. This is an event which opens up the bigger picture of the League, an exciting venture especially for new presidents, and something which they are entitled to attend, one of the perks of the job, you might say! More details will be in the convention package sent out in the spring. If for any reason your president cannot attend she should send a designate.

Recent Arrivals-Prayer Cards for Palliative Care
All provincial presidents recently received prayer cards for 12 Hours of Prayer for Palliative Care so I am now in the process of sending them to diocesan councils for further distribution to parish councils. Please note that each member is entitled to one card. If you wish to receive your cards earlier than provincial mid-term please let me know as soon as possible. The Spiritual Development Chairperson will be receiving further information from National Office in a resource package, and will be notifying her counterparts of its contents. We will also have an item on our Mid-term agenda dealing with practices on this day, so if you have any questions please note them at the end of your Oral Report. They will be listed in my script, and will be discussed at that time thus reserving your precious three minutes for other matters.
The date originally set for the 12 Hours of Prayer was May 4th, 2017, which coincides with three of our diocesan conventions, but it was also suggested that the event could take place between May 7 to 13 which is National Hospice Palliative Care Week (organized by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association). Fran Lucas, National Education and Health Chair further advises, “The prayer can take place within a parish church, a home or elsewhere. Participation may include a large congregation, a few friends or solitary prayer at home.” The best way for BC & Yukon to participate will be discussed at our upcoming provincial mid-term meeting.

New Executives
At a recent diocesan meeting I was delighted to see so many new presidents being recognized and warmly welcomed. Make sure you congratulate all those who have recently been elected to the presidency of their parish council. Remind them that they do not have to do everything, or even do it on their own. They should always involve someone else in their projects, in particular anyone who is not presently serving on the executive. We all need to widen our circles of help, which also means inviting non-members to help with projects.

The 2016 Provincial Petition
By now your signed petition sheets addressing concerns about palliative care, hospice facilities and regulations affecting conscience rights should be in the hands of your MLA. Please express my thanks to all those councils that participated in this important initiative prepared by Provincial Legislation Chairperson Blanca Stead.

Membership 2016
In a recent mailing from National Office I received last year’s membership statistics for BC & Yukon. During the year we had 8 964 paid members. Of these, 101 gained their eternal reward. So at the end of the year our total was recorded as 8 863. We did well recruiting 613 new members, and reinstating 354 whose membership had lapsed, but the number of non-renewing members came to 958, and this huge number added to the number of deceased members resulted in an overall decline of 92 members. The challenge facing us is to ensure we retain our members after we have worked so hard to recruit them, by staying true to our promise of offering them a life of faith, fun and fulfilment.

Upcoming National Executive Meeting
If you have any concerns you would like me to bring to this meeting please contact me on receipt of this communiqué.

May our patroness, Our Lady of Good Counsel, intercede for us as we continue to strive for increased membership in our mission to serve God and Canada.