On Thursday, August 10, 1922, a meeting of the Catholic women of Vermilion and adjacent missions was held at Holy Name of Jesus Church for the purpose of establishing a subdivision of the Catholic Women's League of Canada.
The Rev. H. Goutier presided, with executive members from Edmonton to explain the purpose of the League. Many women from outlying parishes were present as well as women from Holy Name Parish. It was unanimously agreed to establish the Vermilion subdivision of the CWL.
Mrs. J.J. Clifford was elected President, Myrtle Killion, Mrs. Vary, and Mrs. Colbert were elected Vice Presidents and elected secretary/treasurer was Mrs. S.J. MacLaughlin.
Records show the first project of the newly organized CWL was a bake sale in aid of the church building fund. This was held in the ice cream parlor kindly lent by A. Wener. There were two stalls, one for home cooking, poultry and farm produce, and the other for assorted articles at popular prices of 10 cents, 15 cents and 25 cents. There was also a fishpond for the children and afternoon tea was served. And so the work of the CWL began.
Throughout the several years of the depression, 1929 to 1939, and a World War, 1939 to 1945, the ladies of the parish worked hard with much inconvenience to make the council what it is today. Bonds of friendship were formed as the members welcomed newcomers, helped out with new babies, helped bereaved families, put on bazaars, teas, card parties, bake sales and fowl suppers. The purpose, no doubt, was to raise the much needed funds, but the real reward was the friendships formed in sharing prayers, sorrows and happy times.
Spiritual directors for the council included Fr. O'Sullivan, Fr. Pat Rooney, Fr. Andrew MacDonnell and Fr. Ash. Fr. Landrigan became the parish priest from 1951 to 1961 and was instrumental in having the new church built. This gave the ladies of the CWL a good sized kitchen and a large hall for hosting the parish and league social functions.
Fr. Keenan became the parish priest in 1961 and during the time he served in the parish, something the CWL and all parishioners had prayed for became a reality: the Separate Catholic School was built in 1962.
The CWL prided themselves on becoming very involved, especially as its members produced the students, became board members, taught in the school system, served on parent advisory committees and deepened in prayer!
With the Separate School came a further blessing when a community of Sisters from the order of Sisters of Charity de Notre Dame de Evron took up residence in Vermilion at Ave Maria House.
Through their years of service in our community the Sisters (all CWL members) spent time quietly caring for our spiritual, physical and social needs. They taught in the schools, nursed in the hospital, visited the sick, counselled the depressed, fed the priests, took charge of the sacristy and most of all prayed for us. It was a sad day when the Sisters left the community after having served our parish and community and being valued members of the CWL for 31 years.
Many remember another sad day for the parish community, March 1, 1975, the day the Church burnt to the ground. Unfortunately many of the CWL records and memorabilia were lost in the church fire, making a complete history hard to attain. A new church meant that the CWL would be more involved than ever, especially with fundraising.
Many CWL members took time in their busy schedules to attend diocesan meetings, diocesan conventions, provincial conventions and national conventions to keep informed on the works of the CWL, be it spiritual, family life, education or health matters. Members also wrote letters to local MLAs or MPs on issues of concern being dealt with in Parliament.
Throughout the years of the CWL, several members dedicated their time and talent to serve as members of the executive. Rather than list all past presidents, it is a current endeavor for Holy Name of Jesus CWL to honor them with a "Past President's" plaque to be hung in our Church.
Holy Name CWL members are grateful to the mentors who have paved the way for the continuance of 90 years of our League's existence.
We continue to pray for one another as we work together for God and Canada.