Themes and At Home Appeals

From Dunedin Diocesan Report 2018 National Conference

The theme for 2014 to 2016 Vital, Visible, Vibrant led us on many paths to look at ourselves and ponder about the impact we have on the lives of others that we came into contact with. Guest presenters spoke to us about the many ways we make ourselves visible to those around us and how our actions and our conversations can impact on those we come into contact with. I recall that at one of our Diocesan Conferences we had invited a priest who is very involved in charity work in Dunedin to come and talk to us. He had asked if he could bring some young people with him who worked in soup kitchens and refuge houses. Of course we said ‘yes’. He had been told what the theme was but when they arrived at the Conference one of the young women with him asked me what it was as he had forgotten. He knew that it was three words beginning with V.  He could remember Vital and Visible but thought the third one might be Violent. I quickly reassured the young woman that, ‘No, it was actually Vibrant’, which she agreed made more sense. They turned out to be one of the most inspirational panel we had ever heard and it was great to hear from these vital and attractive young women about the work they were doing in the city to assist Father Chamberlain.

The theme for the past two years, “CWLANZ; A Face of Mercy in Creation”, was used as the theme for our 2017 Diocesan Conference. We heard from three speakers who gave us an insight into the different aspects of this theme that we could study. We looked at the many ways that human life and nature are connected and how they relate to each other, which helps us to see the many faces of Mercy in Creation. A Social Worker from Catholic Social Services Alexandra spoke about how mercy played a big part in her work, helping those to move on after suffering some of the many problems facing people today. The Parish Priest from Alexandra introduced us to GEM; Green Earth Movement, and used quotes from Laudato Si to give us practical tips for helping the environment.

The 2017 At Home Appeal was the Sophie Elliot Foundation.  Lesley Elliot, on behalf of the Foundation, was presented with a cheque. This appeal had led to some very interesting meetings around the subject of abuse, particularly mental abuse. All branches had donated generously to this appeal and had guest speakers to talk at meetings either at branch or regional.  Visit

Last year’s At Home Appeal, ‘Pillars’, led to some very interesting meetings and some follow-on activities to assist this group. One branch had supplied car seats to enable mothers to take their children to visit their fathers in prison, another group heard about how mothers were assisted following their release from prison and another branch put an appeal in their parish newsletter for Christmas gifts and were overwhelmed with the response. It is heartening to hear about these activities taking place in our branches. Visit




Hugo Charitable Trust grant use to maximum effect


Te Awamutu Branch successfully applied for a grant from the Hugo Charitable Trust.

This Trust was set up in honour of Hugh Green by his daughter, Maryanne Green, to build on his philanthropic legacy for the future benefit of Aotearoa New Zealand and New Zealanders.

Mr Hugh Green was noted for his generosity to those less fortunate and unable to help themselves, particularly in health issues.

He lived by the philosophy, ‘My real happiness is family, the farms, the cows and people.  You come in with nothing and you go out with nothing, and you just need the essentials while you’re here.  And that’s how I’ve lived my life.’

For more information visit:

Te Awamutu Branch members researched worthy recipients carefully by delving into the their community, and in the process, became aware of the vast need, especially in health-related matters.

The recipients they chose are

A gift of Lego to a young woman with a variety of disabilities.

  • Six-year-old student who has just been diagnosed with lymphoma requiring extended treatment at Starship Hospital.
  • St Vincent de Paul, Te Awamutu, to support the ‘Bread Run’.  Members collect fresh and packaged bread rolls from Pak’n’Save at cost to deliver fortnightly to up to twenty individuals to keep contact and an eye on their welfare
  • An outing for five elderly ladies to join the sisters at Mary McKillop Centre in Mission Bay and then on to lunch.  The grant was used towards the hire of the van to transport them
  • St Patrick’s School.  The Principal, Shelly Fitness, and staff were aware that students needing extra reading support were mostly boys.  New suitable boy-oriented books will be purchased.
  • Helen, living with the consequences of an horrific car accident, desired to travel to the South Island.  To make the trip more comfortable for her and her carers, her mother hired a van which the grant helped pay for.  A highlight of the visit was the Wellington Zoo where the understanding staff allowed Helen to touch the lemurs.

A little about the Te Awamutu Branch

Every year all funds raised are donated to the Te Awamutu Plunkett in the form of knitted garments for babies requiring warm garments; St Patrick’s School to assist children needing uniforms, shoes and outer garments, St Vincent de Paul. Members also assist in many practical ways.

2018 National at Home Appeal: Motor Neurone Disease Association

Margaret Brownsey, Hamilton Diocese, Val Langley, Christchurch Diocese admire the cuddly dog with Beth Watson, President of the Motor neurone Disease Association.

Every year Catholic Women’s League choose a National Charitable organisation to learn about and to support.

Education plays a big part at Branch and Diocesan levels as learning about issues that affect many people in New Zealand are not always well known.

The more that is learned, the better each of us can support and help those in our communities who live with someone afflicted with MND.

The second part of our service is to raise funds for the organisation to be used in whatever way the organisation deems to be best at the time.

Beth Watson, the Motor Neurone Disease Association National President, spoke to the National Conference members about the difficulties in Diagnosing MND, the lack of scientific studies of the causes and treatment, and the increasing need for support services as the condition progresses.

She also highlighted the impact this condition has on family members and friends as their lives are increasingly changed.

One of the fund raising ventures of MND is the sale of beautiful cuddly toy dogs and a number were bought by members.

For further information about MND visit

(Beatrice )Tris Officer 1921 – 2018

Tris Officer

Tris Officer

Tris Officer lived in Khandallah for many years and was a very involved Parishioner in many aspects of Parish life, whether hosting a Renew group, or member of the Catholic Women’s League, or a Passionist Family group member.  I have known Tris as a fellow Parishioner, and enjoyed her friendliness, her interest in people, her hospitality and her positive support for the Church, the Parish and her attitude to her Faith.  As a member of the Onslow Parish Catholic Women’s League, Tris offered her many skills at Archdiocesan and National levels for CWL

She will also be remembered by readers as Business Manager for the Marist Messenger. Tris fulfilled this role for 15 years. The latest copy of the magazine was in her room when she died. Tris voluntarily commenced work with the Marist Messenger in 1982. She sorted the membership record cards and in 1984 took on the daunting task of learning a computer system and loading the readership list onto the computer. Having thus organised the records, she was then able to print out monthly accounts and labels and run the weekly banking.

Geoff Officer, one of Tris’ three sons, outlined her wider life in his eulogy. A trained physiotherapist, she founded a kindergarten in Plimmerton, when she was first married. Then ten happy years (1959 – 1969) in Fiji saw her work as the Librarian for the Agricultural Department, and as National Secretary and then national President of the Fiji Red Cross. Returning to New Zealand in 1970, she took on the role of International Secretary for the Catholic Women’s League, then moved on to National Secretary for the League.

After some years in this role, she became National Secretary of Pregnancy Help (NZ) serving as its second National President. She read, she prayed and worshipped her God, and she made her home one of hospitality and welcome to the clergy and religious of the various parishes to which she belonged.

  • Tribute written by Christine Paterson

Wellington Archdiocese hosts National Conference

Back – Kath Emmerson Heretaunga; Geraldine Symes (Sims?) Heretaunga; Christine Fogden Paraparaumu; Kay Blackburn National President Paraparaumu; Sam Walker Onslow; Val Kelly Upper Hutt; Anne McGrath Upper Hutt.
Second – Kath Cain Lower Hutt; Carolyn Johns Levin; Delia McCaffrey Otari; Diane Glynan Otari; Ethne Wyndham-Smith Otari; Perry Carlisle (Carlyle?) Lower Hutt; Jaqui Gilligan Onslow: Anne Lumb Otari; Susan Lloyd Upper Hutt.
Front – Karen Saunders Otari; Christine Paterson Diocesan President Onslow; Fay Doyle Paraparaumu; Christine Dwyer Lower Hutt; Anne McIntyre; Margaret McIvor Lower Hutt.

Almost 200 Catholic Women’s League members gathered in Wellington in July to attend the Bi-annual national Conference.

In conjunction with the CWL National Board, a full programme covering four days was organized over the previous year highlighting the work of the CWL over the last two years.

There was also time for entertainment and socializing.  A very successful and fulfilling time.

The Wellington report took the form of a reworded version of ‘Ave Ave’ and following are some excerpts.

Julius Omeri-Luke wins Conference art prize

art prize

Sam Walker, Christine Paterson, Julius Omeri-Luke (Winner), Kaille Harris, Art Teacher and Neal Swindells Rector of St Patrick’s College.

Julius Omeri-Luke, a student at St Patrick’s College Wellington is the winner of the 2018 Catholic Women’s League art prize.

The art competition reflected the “CWL, the Face of Mercy in Creation” theme and was offered to students studying NCEA Art at Catholic Colleges in the Wellington Archdiocese to enter.

It is usual practice to include young people in National Conferences in some manner which reflects the current CWL theme.

Sam Walker, Regional Representative for Wellington and Onslow Branch member and Archdiocesan President, Christine Paterson, traveled to St Patrick’s College, Wellington, to present the Art prize to the winner, Julius Omeri-Luke.

Julius Omeri-Luke

Julius Omeri-Luke’s “Care for Creation”

Julius explained the title of the painting is ‘Care for Creation’.

Julius, who has Samoan ancestry, spoke of his Grandmother who had died recently. His painting represented all the wisdom and life skills he had received from her as he grew up.

It was a very moving occasion.

The prize money of $300.00 was donated by a benefactor.

Pillars supported

Verna McFelin, CEO of Pillars, and Noeline Gibbons of Matamata after the presentation to Verna of over $12,000.00 to support Pillars.

CWLANZ focuses on a National Organization every year. These organizations are usually either promoting and supporting health or social needs.  The 2017 organization was Pillars which aims to support the over 23000 children with a parent who is imprisoned by our justice system.  Verna McFelin CEO of Pillars and its foundress had had first hand experience of dealing with children of a parent in prison.

All Branches of League take up the first challenge of educating members and their wider communities about the organization and how to best support all people involved.  This usually involves speakers from the groups who work, often voluntarily, in the court and prison services as Pillars has not yet got representatives in all centres although this is being quickly rectified..

Leading from learning about the needs of the organization comes the practical support.  This usually takes the shape of financial assistance raised by Branches in a variety of ways.   Verna spoke to Conference members and received a cheque of over $12,000.00 from the National President, Kay Blackburn, to help her continue her good work.

For more information about Pillars visit

Women welcome change

Moira Kilbride, from Cambridge, and Anne Dickinson

In acknowledging that the topic of ‘Women Facing Change’ is a very complex one, Anne decided to break the topic down to two main ideas: ‘Personal Change’ and ‘Change in the Church’.

She referred to Mary (Chapt 2 Luke’s Gospel) responding to the angel’s announcement that she would be the mother of Jesus with the words, ‘Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.’  This meant she worked through these things with God instead of sharing the news with others.  We must be aware of the changes within us as we grow and mature and are shaped by our prayer and reflection about what has happened and the future. Sometimes though, change can be sudden and overwhelming, generating fear and uncertainty.  We must find a way forward.

Pope Francis in his letter, Evangelii Gaudium has urged us to go out of our parishes in to the peripheries and to serve the people in need where they are. Anne talked about the results of the recent Synod where the desire was expressed about going out to those who are marginalized.  She also pointed out that desire is not enough – there has to be action but action needs discernment.

Anne finished her hour long presentation by quoting the opening paragraph from the Second Vatican Council’s Gaudium te Specs.

Click to read the full address Anne Dickinson – Women welcome change (PDF)

Farewell and thank you Anne

Anne Joyce and Christine Patterson

At the Annual General Meeting held in St Theresa’s Church, Karori, Otari Parish, Mrs Anne Joyce was formally fare welled by the Archdiocesan President, Mrs Christine Patterson.

Mrs Patterson recognized the different leadership roles Anne has held in Catholic Women’s League at Parish, Diocesan and National level, especially as National President for four years.

She said that Anne’s faith and vision has made a large contribution to the growth of CWL throughout New Zealand.

She also managed the rewrite of the CWL Constitution and its accompanying Handbook.

Anne has also been very generous with her time in mentoring leaders within the organisation.  Anne was presented with flowers.

We all wish Anne and her husband, Bill, every happiness in this new phase of their lives with family in Christchurch.

Change lives and shape futures


There are over 700 women in our prisons and almost 6,000 on probation.

Although Corrections New Zealand’s role must always be to hold people to account for their crimes, it is also responsible to help them to stop offending.

The increase of women offenders demands attention and a fresh approach which is different and separate to men’s.

Just as there are a number of recognised factors contributing to women’s offending, it is known that relationships are important with successful outcomes improved by helping women rebuild and maintain relationships or to extricate themselves from violent or dysfunctional ones.

Correction New Zealand’s goal is to reduce re-offending by 25% through a new four-pronged approach.

  • Industry, Treatment and Learning
    Learning skills, trades and supporting women in to meaningful work.  Improving mental and physical health and tackling the causes of their offending.
  • Community Safety
    Probation officers will have greater emphasis on women’s circumstances both in the whanau and in the community.  Assisting women, especially those caring for children, to complete their community probationary period.
  • Modern Infrastructure
    As new and updated facilities are brought in to use attention will be given to what supports women’s rehabilitation.
  • Our People
    Corrections staff in women’s prisons need to be able to respond through a range of advanced inter-personal skills to build positive and effective relationships.

Read the full text from Corrections New Zealand