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CWL National Convention, Charlottetown, PEI

Presentation to the CWL National Convention, Charlottetown, PEI, August 5 – 8, 2017 by Rita Janes, Chair, Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation

Madame Chair

Thank you President Margaret Anne and National Board for the opportunity to speak to the Convention about the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation – an organization charged with developing and supporting quality leadership programs for Canadian Catholic women; an organization founded by the Catholic Women’s League of Canada. Let me begin this presentation by saying how grateful the Foundation Board is to the Catholic Women’s League for your support over the past five years and, your support, in so many ways.

When Sisters of Service in 2012 approached the Catholic Women’s League offering, as part of their legacy, $500 000 to provide quality programming for catholic women, the Catholic Women’s League ( that is you) didn’t have to ponder too long before accepting the offer.

In your wisdom, you saw it as a way to continue your long history of promoting and developing the leadership of your members and, indeed, now you were able to reach out to all Canadian Catholic women. You saw it as a way to provide leadership education for women, but more in-depth.

The Sisters of Service were delighted with your decision.

And to show its commitment, the CWL agreed to match the Sisters of Service donation of $500 000.

So, the two organizations, inspired by a shared mission of having more women in leadership roles, were able to bring to reality a vision to transform the leadership landscape for Canadian Catholic women and for society.

Immediately, now that was in 2012, an interim committee of very experienced League members was tasked with establishing an incorporated organization under the Canada Not-for- Profit Corporation and have it registered as a charitable public foundation. Through the committee’s hard work and dedication, this became a reality in 2014, and the first Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation Board was established in 2015. The first task of the Board was to develop a Mission Statement, and we did, namely,

“to fund leadership education that inspires Catholic women to be transformational and influential leaders where they live, work and volunteer”.

“to fund leadership education” is and has been a very important focus for us. We knew very early that the endowment fund set up by the Sisters of Service and the Catholic Women’s League, both setting restrictions on its use, would have to be increased from the initial $1 million to at least $2.5 million if we were to provide the quality leadership program we envisaged for women from all over Canada, and, yes, to carry this program into the future.

Hence the Capital Campaign, which has been ongoing for the last 18 months, was initiated.

No, we were not able to “ fund the program” and programs into the future without increasing the endowment fund.

Thank you Campaign Cabinet and Helpers

And so this leads me to express my gratitude to the many Catholic Women League members, who gave so much of their time, talent, perseverance, and determination to be voluntary solicitors for the Campaign and to bring us quite close to our target of $1.5 Million.

Thank you. We truly appreciate what you have done. Soliciting donations is not an easy job, but you showed determination. You obviously believed in the cause.

Your names (all 65 of you and all CWL members) are on the banner by the exhibit table. Come by.

Thank you, Donors

Thank you also to our many donors, especially the Sister Religious, Congregations and Dioceses across Canada, targeted in our initial campaign.

Your generosity is very much appreciated. We received gifts from $500 000 (yes the two Sister Congregations from NL committed to $500 000) and we received gifts of $5.00 and all were, and are so welcome. $5.00 from a person living on a “Senior’s Pension” or $100 from a struggling Council can also be a lot of money.

We did receive many donations from CWL councils, and from CWL members, especially after we ran an article in the Spring magazine asking for your support.

It is not too late to donate.

CWLF Leadership Program

In keeping with our Mission and in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation, the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation Board has the responsibility “To develop women’s leadership capacity-building programs that are of the highest quality and that are consistent with Catholic values by establishing and maintaining partnerships with key educational institutions” (Objective 1).

I am so pleased to announce to you today that the initial Leadership Program will begin in May 2018 at the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality, Saint Paul University, Ottawa.

Our year-long Certificate Program has been specifically designed to integrate faith and life, personal and professional leadership development.

Spirituality and a Catholic faith perspective are the foundations of all activities; prayer and reflective practice are core elements that are integrated throughout the program. Women will participate in specially developed modules, both face-to-face: 5 days residency to kick start the program, 11 months online, and 3 days at the end, again face to face and residency; and there will be ongoing mentorship.

After completing the program, women will have the skills they need to make a tremendous difference in their community, whether they are acting or speaking on behalf of an organization, fundraising for a local community group, or serving as a director of a major corporation.

For more information about the program be sure to pick up a brochure or just come and talk to me.

Candidates for the Program

A candidate for the Program must be a Canadian Catholic woman, at least 21 years of age, and of any background and experience. A candidate for the Program will not have to qualify for university admission. She might be a teacher, a sales clerk, an electrician, a nurse, a homecare worker, a doctor, a lawyer, or a politician. All are welcome to apply. More details about the criteria, the commitment a woman must make to participate, and application form will be shortly available on our website.

We will start accepting applicants in September, and a selection committee, made up of Board and non-Board people is being formed to make the final selection of candidates for the Program.

SO AGAIN, THANK YOU. The fund raising is ongoing, and I am appealing to each and every member, each and every Council, to donate what you can to this very important program happening for Catholic women in Canada today, and one that will have a tremendous impact on the secular society in which we presently live. We need your support, the support of all our members both financially and morally. Come by our table in the Exhibit Space and chat to me. Take some brochures back to your Council. Thank you.

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