by SARAH ROBERTS
Women from all over the country came together with one goal in mind — to make a positive change through faith.The biennial Catholic Women’s League Aotearoa New Zealand conference was held in Wellington last month. Around 120 women attended.

New national president Susan Dickson said the conference is an ideal opportunity for women with the same desire and outlook to gather together.

“We are all women of faith and people of action. We live Gospel values,” she said.

This year’s theme “Women Welcoming Change” was announced at the conference.

Keynote speaker Anne Dickinson, project assistant to Cardinal John Dew, spoke about change and how to be open to different opportunities.

She told the league members that change should always come with reflection before moving on and that welcoming any change, whether good or bad, is important.

She talked about Pope Francis connecting with the marginalised and how we should change from welcoming people into the parish to going out and showing people a life of faith.

A panel of four women also shared their own changes in life and how they reacted to the difficulties and took action.

The Catholic Women’s League presented a cheque for $12,000 to Pillars, a charity for children of prisoners. The league spent last year raising funds for Pillars, the chosen national At Home Appeal recipient.

The league’s publicity officer, Coleen Blackmore, said it’s not just about raising the money, but also learning how to help in a practical way.

“It’s amazing what we learned and some of us didn’t even know the charity existed before. We are now so aware of the plight children are in when a parent is in jail,” she said.

League members raised money for Pillars by holding film evenings, catered dinners and raffles throughout the year.

Some parishes also collected Christmas gifts for the children over the festive period.

This year’s At Home Appeal chosen charity is the Motor Neurone Disease Association of New Zealand.

Local league groups also focus on local charity causes. This can involve work like baking for others or knitting mittens for babies.

The league’s new national president, Mrs Dickson, stepped up from her role as social issues executive officer. She brings in a new secretary, Zella McGirr, from Methven in Christchurch diocese and a new national treasurer, Cathy Bell from Rotorua in Hamilton diocese.

Mrs Dickson originally joined the league in 1980 and then re-joined 10 years ago. She has a strong interest in social justice issues, service and living the Gospel message.

The former president was Kathleen Blackburn.

The World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisation’s (WUCWO) international secretary for CWLANZ, Stephanie Swann from Lawrence in Otago diocese, stood down. Sr Patricia Stevenson, RSJ, has taken over the role of chaplain from Sr John Bosco Kendall, RSJ.

The Catholic Women’s League is the largest Catholic group in New Zealand. A faith-based organisation, giving women the opportunities to contribute to the social, intellectual and spiritual life of the Church, the league speaks out on educational and social concerns and has a particular interest in the education in young people.

Go to www.cwl.org.nz to join the league or to find out more information.

The next national conference will be held in 2020 in Rotorua.

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