By Greg Price
Members of the St. Augustine’s Catholic Women’s League council will be celebrating the chapter’s 90th anniversary on June 3.
“We’re having mass at St. Augustine’s Church at 5 p.m., and then the banquet and evening to follow starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Taber Legion,” said member Colleen Kinniburgh, who has been with St. Augustine’s CWL Council for 35 years. “There’s a few that are over 60 years as members.”
The St. Augustine’s Catholic Women’s League was organized in April 1927 by Father E.J. McCoy, who was the parish priest in Bow Island, with an objective of spiritual development and social activities. Early projects for the group included fund raising to pay off debt for the new church and to furnish the rectory.
The local CWL council celebrated a 25th anniversary in 1952 (69 members), a 50th anniversary in 1977 (188 members), and a 75th anniversary in 2002 (110 members). The Catholic Women’s League of Canada was organized nationally on June 17, 1920 as an, “organization rooted in gospel values calling its members to holiness through service to the people of God.”
“Because we’re part of the parish, if there’s a need in the parish, the women will step up and do that,” said Kinniburgh. “The Fort McMurray fire, we did a bake sale for that, and if there’s a community event that needs some funds, we’ll do that for them, too.”
Some of the activities the group membership has participated in over the decades has included hospital visits, cleaning the church and rectory, retreats for members, students and teachers; operation of a clothing bank, and contributing funds to other parish projects, such as the Peigan Reserve School and a new roof for the church in Cluny.
Members have also assisted in community programs of St. Vincent de Paul, operations of a thrift shop, the food bank, and Meals on Wheels, as well as the annual parish fall supper.
“In the parish itself, we’re very active with lots of things, like a coffee Sunday once a month that we host,” said Kinniburgh of the group, which meets once a month. “The women in our group are very active in various functions in the parish. They help with hospital visiting, the shut-ins and the sick, visiting new moms with new babies, welcoming them to the parish with a little gift, funeral lunches — there’s so much it might be better to say what we don’t do.”
A once-popular feature, the St. Augustine’s CWL Taber International Food Fair began as a result of the fire that destroyed the Taber Civic Centre on Jan. 1, 1969. With limited space available for parish functions, the members voted to hold a bake sale featuring the baking of the many ethnic families residing in the parish. The first fair was held in the church basement, but the fair was later moved to the Legion Hall in subsequent years.
Held on the Saturday before Holy Week, the fair was an annual event for 12 years before it was changed to a fall supper as the group’s annual fundraising event.
“The CWL, one of the things we do currently is our fall supper, which is open to the community every fall in November,” said Kinniburgh. “We’re in charge of that, as one of our big community fundraiser events.”
The chapter’s membership is currently 119, and they are expecting roughly 100 people to attend the celebration. Tickets for the event are $25, and can be purchased at the church office or by contacting Kinniburgh at 403-315-3881 or 403-223-9046, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s open to anyone in the community that would like to attend. They don’t have to be CWL,” said Kinniburgh.