On the 19th of September 1957, the then Parish Priest, Father Courtney with the backing of Archbishop Liston, addressed a gathering of local ladies.  The outcome of this meeting was the formation of a Catholic Women’s League Branch and the election of the following executive – President, Mrs Fogerty; Vice President, Mrs Doran; Secretary, Mrs Bridges; Treasurer, Mrs Hand.   From this beginning came an energetic, vibrant women’s group whose motto was, “In Faith and Service”.   For 60 years, ladies from St Peter Chanel Parish have continued to honour and fulfil the aims of Margaret Fletcher – they have prayed for and supported the poor and needy and provided friendship and fellowship.

There was a good attendance of members at the celebratory luncheon, including a former Parish Priest, Father Frank O’Regan, present Parish Priest Father Robert Sharplin and branch Chaplain Peter Lander.

These five ladies were honoured by the Branch Executive for the service they have provided over the years.  Josie Gillick, Maria Goes, Riet van Boheemen, Maryrose Butler and Helen Spring were each presented with a framed Hamilton Diocesan Service Certificate and a spray of flowers.  Absent was Lorna Scholtens.

Over the years the branch has retained archival material and the members enjoyed looking at photos and recalling the fellowship they had experienced.

Helen Spring, a present-day member who was at the initial meeting, and Mary Rose Butler who joined shortly after, cut the cake.




Books for Fiji from New Plymouth

New Plymouth shipped 21 boxes of nearly new books to Nadelei, their mission community in Fiji.  The books came from a closing primary school in Taranaki.  A generous benefactor sourced, packed and paid for the shipping.

The happy faces of the children demonstrate the joy and excitement of unpacking these treasures.

New stationery and gifts were sent for the sisters from the Branch.

Port Chalmers Celebrates 50 Years

The Port Chalmers Branch began their celebrations on a warm spring day with Mass in the Star of the Sea Church, celebrated by four of the five priests who served as parish priests in the time of the League.
Guests from Oamaru CWL, Dunedin CWL, and friends from the local Anglican and Presbyterian Churches joined members and parish friends in the Chalmers Room at the local Civic Centre for a shared lunch, social time and formalities.

Current members
Maureen Love,
Anne-Marie Warren,
Joan Dickinson,
Pauline Lysaght,
Natalie Smith
and Joan Burgess.



Flowers were presented to Pauline Lysaght and Natalie Smith for their years of service. Natalie was also presented with Life Membership for her dedicated service to League for over fifty years





Natalie Smith cutting the cake while Joan Burgess looks on.

Korean Cooking at the Orakei Eastern Suburbs, Auckland

Cecilia Lee did us proud when she demonstrated the Korean cooking techniques at a monthly meeting.  The food she cooked was superb and in great abundance.  She was able to feed twenty members and friends for lunch without batting an eye.  Thank you so much, Cecilia.  We were all keen to try to duplicate the different dishes you cooked for us.

Cecilia Lee, chef and committee member with members and friends enjoying the lunch.

Morrinsville Branch

Approximately ten members & parishioners gather together every second Tuesday and knit for children. All the wool they knit with is machine washable making it easy to keep clean. They knit beanies in the colours of St Joseph’s School and slippers for them to wear in class. All the hats and slippers are the children’s’ to keep all through their schooling. When the new entrant’s knitting is completed, the members & parishioners knit for the children who are new to the school.

The group also knit booties, hats, matinee sets and mittens for the Neonatal Unit and the New-Born Unit at Waikato Hospital, especially for the premature. There are a large number of babies who are born unexpectedly and have nothing to wear when going home. The knitting provides babies with warmth and care.

Each year the Branch gains funds through a grant from Trust Waikato. With some of this being used for the wool. The knitters are given yarn and patterns. The president, Mrs Patricia Pellow, says, “When we meet it’s great to see the combined knowledge of the group learning from each other. It’s a great place for sharing our understandings together. It’s mind blowing taking in the garments to the school or the hospital. People are genuinely thankful for the knitting that we give. It brings tears to our eyes.”

The Branch has also donated a recliner Lazy Boy Chair to the Rhoda Read Hospital. Stephanie Smythe (Charge Nurse) Renee Cooper (CWL President) and Ria van de Laar (member)

Other donations have been to Victim Support, equipment to a swim teacher. The main source of income is from CWL share from the Community Opportunity Shop.

Te Awamutu celebrates 80 Years

Nonagenarians Kath Sheehan and Marie Corey cut the birthday cake while President Maureen Picken looks on

July 2017 was a momentous occasion for the Te Awamutu CWL celebrating 80 years of faith and Service to the parish and community.  This special occasion commenced with our Chaplain, Margaret Louissan, arranging the musical numbers and pianist, with Fr Joe Stack celebrating the Mass which reflected St Mary Magdalen.  She is an example to members, sowing hope and encouragement although we are weak; the mystery of grace that is present in the life of Christ is powerful.  Mass was followed by a luncheon with our grateful thanks to the small committee who created a wonderful event.  Members reminisced on happy days over the years where close friendships were made and still are strong.

Double celebration at Matamata C.W.L

Emeritus Bishop Denis Browne, Diocesan Chaplain for Hamilton celebrated 40 years as a Bishop and 55 years as a Priest along with C.W.L Matamata who celebrated their 80th birthday on July 2nd 2017.

Lalla Luefen and Melba Dunn; our most senior members; cut the cake with Bishop Browne.

Noeline Gibbons(Central Region Rep),  Joan Pigou Diocesan President) and Pat Steffert (Branch President).







C.W.L members celebrated with a shared lunch with parishioners and invited guests.

A Happy and successful occasion.  Congratulations!


Oamaru Branch Celebrate 65 Years.


A winter lunch following the social meeting was a warm and happy way to celebrate 65 years of Catholic Women’s League in Oamaru (Dunedin Diocese) with parishioners.

We honoured six members who had been in the Branch for over fifty years; Joan McMullan, Marion Mierniki, Dorothy Tysan and Margaret Jones.  We also presented a spray to Mary Dwyer and Jeanette Verheyen who had served over forty years.

Queen’s Birthday Honour for Deirdre Jolly

Deirdre Anne Jolly of Alexandra has deservedly been awarded the Queen’s Service Order in the Queen’s birthday awards for her service to her community.

Deirdre has been a CWL member for 55 years in both Invercargill and Alexandra. She has held the positions of Branch President, Diocesan Vice-President and President, some of these more than once.  Most of you will remember Dierdre as the National Issues convenor from 1984 to 1987, a position she held again after she served a term as National President from 1992 to 1996.  At present she is serving as Branch President and the Dunedin Diocesan Social Issues.

Working for and with CWL members has been a real faith journey which opened many doors and allowed contact with women of faith in our wider NZ Catholic Church.  She established a branch of the National Council of Women which resulted from her work with League and this gave her the opportunity to meet and work with women from other faiths and organisations.

Deirdre’s interests do not stop there.  She has been involved in sports, kindergarten, and Plunket groups as her children grew up.  She has been chairwoman of the Alexandra Council of Social Services since 1983, a position she still holds.  She has played significant roles with Victim Support, budgeting services, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, Alexandra Community House, the Diocesan Board of Administration, and the Alexandra Blossom Festival. She also served a term of twelve years on the Alexandra Borough Council.

‘Thank you to all who sent me congratulation on the Award,’ says Deirdre.  ‘I have been privileged to have the chance to work in this and surrounding communities, meeting so many people who have enriched my life as I worked with and for them.’

Papal Honour for CWL Church Volunteer

Betsy Rymer receives papal honour

Te Awamutu woman Betsy Reymer, 84, received the prestigious Benemerenti Medal for her lifelong service to theTE AWAMUTU woman Betsy Reymer, 84, received the prestigious Benemerenti Medal for her lifelong service to the Catholic Church. Catholic Church.ice to the church.

A prestigious papal honour has been bestowed on Te Awamutu woman Betsy Reymer for her lifelong service to the Catholic Church.

Hamilton Catholic Bishop Steve Lowe visited St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Te Awamutu this month to present the Benemerenti Medal and a certificate to the 84-year-old.

Over the last three decades Mrs Reymer has worked polishing brass, making curtains, washing and ironing linen, gardening and creating floral arrangements for local Catholic churches.

She has also been a member of the Catholic Women’s League for 60 years and was president of the Ohaupo branch for 10 years and is now an active member in Te Awamutu.

She still delivers Holy Communion to sick and elderly parishioners and has sewn ‘angel gowns’ from wedding dresses for stillborn babies.

Mrs Reymer moved to New Zealand from Holland in 1952 and married her husband John a year later at the age of 21.

The couple lived and farmed in Matamata and Otorohanga before settling in Ohaupo for 30 years and have 10 children, 40 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.

She says New Zealand has been a wonderful place to raise a family and that’s partly why she wants to give back to the community.

“The country and people of New Zealand have been very good to me. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

After her husband passed away Mrs Reymer moved to Rosehill Lifestyle Village in 2012 where she still resides.

When the Ohaupo Catholic Church closed last year she transferred to St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Te Awamutu.

Mrs Reymer still volunteers about three mornings a week. She describes  herself as “more of a doer than a reader” and enjoys making a practical difference.

“If I’m fit and able to drive, then why not help out?

“Caring for others is a privilege.”

A Te Awamutu Catholic Women’s League member says Mrs Reymer works quietly for the good of many people.

“All who know Betsy would agree she highly deserves this acknowledgement for her caring endeavours to help wherever possible.”

Source: Te Awamutu Courier (PDF)