Fifty years ago in June of 1961, a small gathering of ladies from Little Fort, Darfield, Barriere, Louis Creek, and Squam Bay got together to form a local Catholic Women’s League (C.W.L.) council. From this meeting the Lower north Thompson C.W.L. council was formed, with Father Quigley as it’s spiritual director.
The first offical meeting was held on June 26, 1961, chaired by Mrs. Wright with 11 ladies present – they met at St. George’s Church in Barriere and the first election of officers was held at this meeting.
The first executive were as follows: president – Mrs. Aurie Stevens (Barriere), 1st vice-president – Mrs. Livingstone (Little Fort), 2nd vice-president – Mrs. Ross (Barriere), 3rd vice-president – Mrs. Kay Fraser (Squam Bay), secretary – Mrs. Edith Cross (Barriere), and treasurer – Mrs. Gertrude Latremouille (Barriere).
Not all the meetings were held at the church. Indeed, they were often held in member’s homes, not just those from Barriere but also those from Chu Chua, Brennan Creek and Squam Bay.
From 1964-1966 several Clearwater ladies joined in, until they formed their own council in 1966.
Over the 50 years that the Lower North Thompson C.W.L. has been active, several members have served at both the Diocesan and Provincial levels of the C.W.L.
In May of 1976 Mabel Allen, of Brennan Creek, was elected as Diocesan President. In 1981, she was the Provincial convenor. In 1982 she was elected as Provincial President and went on to serve a second term in this position.
Another member, Betty Kozoris was elected Diocesan convenor in 1981. She was also elected Diocesan President in 1983.
More recently, Dianne Pecor served several terms as Diocesan Secretary, and has just completed one term as Diocesan spiritual convenor.
Over the years there have been bake sales, garage sales, spaghetti dinners, workshops, pot-lucks, pilgrimages, and many other events.
In looking back over the years, the Catholic Women’s League has created a legacy here in the Lower North Thompson area – a legacy that was formed with God. They have had great persistence, fortitude, and a great faith and love of God. They have traveled in all kinds of weather conditions – snow, wind, rain, they’ve seen it all – doing their best to honour the C.W.L. mission: “The Catholic Women’s League of Canada is a national organization rooted in gospel values calling its members to holiness through service to the people of God.”
What are the current C.W.L. members doing today?
Spiritually, they have Mass prior to their meetings, when possible, or pray the Rosary. At meetings they often have a spiritual program and intercessory prayers for members, families, and community members when needed.
During meetings they share information from all the levels of the C.W.L., as well as make plans or discuss ideas about possible events, workshops or community work needing to be done. Following the meetings the ladies have fun visiting over coffee and goodies.
C.W.L. helps to support many charities that include the local food bank, the Pregnancy Care Centre in Kamloops, Development and Peace, Pro-Life, a mission school in Sri Lanka, and a family in India. They also present an annual Barriere Secondary School bursary, as well as purchase the candles used in the Catholic church.
Members serve in various lay ministries at Mass, assist in keeping the lawn looking well-groomed, and decorating the church at Christmas and Easter.
Out in the community, members take part in the Adopt-a-Street program, where three or four times a year members help clean up along the road past the church from the highway to the high school.
Over the years, the C.W.L. council has sponsored a number of girls in the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Pageant, and this year they are sponsoring Hannah Allen, Mabel Allen’s granddaughter. The girls who take part in this pageant learn poise and self-confidence, and go on to become ambassadors of the North Thompson Valley.
C.W.L. members are always ready to give a helping hand whenever needed in their parish or out in the community in any number of ways.
Parishioner’s of Saint George’s Church and members of the Lower North Thompson C.W.L. will be celebrating the history of the Catholic Church in Barriere and the Catholic Women’s League on June 11, starting with Mass at St. George’s Church at 5 p.m., and with a Pot-Luck dinner following at 6 p.m. at the Ridge gym. All Catholic’s from the communities of Barriere, Chu Chua, Little Fort, Squam Bay, Brennan Creek, Heffley Creek, and Louis Creek are invited to come with their families and join the celebration.
If you are planning on attending the pot-luck, please call Margaret at 250-672-9330 to register, as organizers need to know numbers for setting up the tables and chairs.
About the Catholic Women’s League of Canada:
The Catholic Women’s League of Canada was organized nationally on June 17, 1920 and granted federal incorporation on December 12, 1923.
The League is officially recognized by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) as a lay association of women and is affiliated with the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO), a world-wide federation holding membership in the conference of International Catholic Organizations (ICO) and having consultative status with agencies of the United Nations.
The C.W.L. has four levels of councils – the Parish level, Diocesan, Provincial, and National. There have been active parish councils in the Kamloops Diocese since 1947.
The objects of the League shall be to unite Catholic women of Canada:
* to achieve individual and collective spiritual development.
* to promote the teachings of the Catholic church.
* to exemplify the Christian ideal in home and family life.
* to protect the sanctity of human life.
* to enhance the role of women in church and society.
* to recognize the human dignity of all people everywhere.
* to uphold and defend Christian education and values in the modern world.
* to contribute to the understanding and growth of religious freedom, social justice, peace and harmony.
While the league is called the “Catholic” women’s league, one does not have to be Catholic to join the league. A General Member is a Catholic woman, 16 years of age or over, with voting privileges and with eligibility for office by election or appointment. An Associate Member is a non-Catholic woman, 16 years of age or over, with voting privileges, but without eligibility for office by election or appointment. Ladies – this means if you want to join a group where you know you will never be asked to take on an executive position – this is the perfect group… if you aren’t a Catholic that is.