Helena Lessard,  Peterborough Diocesan President 

Helena was born and raised in Oshawa.  She graduated from the University of Western Ontario in Political Science and from Durham College in Human Resources.  She was employed in Human Resources in insurance and government sectors then balanced an analytical role of bookkeeping with a creative role of designing and creating competitive dance and gymnastic wear. Helena is married with two adult daughters, both married. 

Helena has been a member of the League in Peterborough Diocese since 1990 and was awarded the Maple Leaf Service pin in 2014.  She has held several committee chairs at the parish and diocesan levels culminating in Presidency.  She has served as Registration Chair for diocesan convention in Lindsay and on the Credentials and Protocol committees for provincial convention in Cobourg. Helena has also collaborated on various projects and committees.  She has presented retreats on the Holy Land and Fatima and various workshops such as Catch the Fire and the League’s Welcome Program. 

Maria Fitzgerald, President -Elect

Born in Shifnal England, Maria and family came to Canada in 1952. She is married with two grown children and four grandchildren. She was employed for 33 years as teacher and Music Consultant with the Separate School Board where she shared knowledge gained with two School Music Specialist Certificates, a Master of Education in Curriculum and ARCT in piano. In 2008, at the request of Bishop DeAngelis, she became Diocesan Director of the Rosary in the Schools Program. She dreams of another Diocesan Rosary Hour (held annually in the 70’s) at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.

As a 35year member of the Cathedral of St. Peter- in- Chains CWL, Maria served as President, Past President, Secretary, Treasurer and Historian and received her Maple leaf pin in 2014. She chaired several Diocesan receptions – ordinations, installation of Bishops, clergy chrism and Christmas dinners etc., co-chaired one Diocesan CWL Convention and was on the committee for another. She served on the Diocesan Executive as Recording Secretary and Education and Health Chair. She represented the Diocesan Council on the Board of Education’s Faith and Equity Committee for three years and will continue in this role while President Elect and Organization Chair. She appreciates the insight, knowledge and enthusiasm of being a CWL member she gained in all local activities and in attendance at National and Provincial Conventions.

She enjoys the role of Eucharistic Minister to the Sick and Shut-ins. For 26 years, she assisted Organist and Music Director, Herbie Michel, as conductor of the Cathedral Choir. In 1989, she was presented the Papal Bene Merenti Medal for service in the Church. Thus, she is excited to continue to serve God’s people on the Diocesan Council as Organization Chair.

Ferrol O’Reilly, Treasurer

Ferrol O’Reilly is service her second term as Diocesan Treasurer. She is a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish and Missions in Kirkfield.  Her  home is located north of Coboconk and she I usually attend St. Margaret Mary’s mission in Coboconk.  IFerrol is   currently Past President of her ParishCouncil.

Ferrol has  been married for 54 years and have two children and 4 grandchildren.  Before moving to the area in 1999 , the family  lived in Oshawa.  She and her husband drove back and forth to work until Ferrol retired in 2003 and her husband in 2004. Ferrol  has held several positions in my working days including day care, factory worker, seamstress, commercial cleaner and Church secretary. Along the way I have managed youth sports teams, hockey and lacrosse, held many positions on Auxiliary Executives, organized wedding, bowling and birthday banquets.  With a grade 12 education, Ferrol has been an active life-long learner.

I had never been encouraged to join the CWL or heard much about it until we moved to the area  One Sunday at the church,  I was approached by the President at the time to come to a meeting and learn more. It didn’t take long for me to sign up.  At the time I had just retired and didn’t know a lot of people and felt this was a good way to meet and hopefully make new friends. Not only has that happened but I have served as secretary, President Elect and President of the council.

Ferrol has  enjoying her journey with the CWL.  She has come to enjoy the camaraderie and the spiritual enrichment in the League and the members have shared and continue to share. The League has deepened my faith and enriched my prayer life. What the future holds for me is yet unknown but if I can help in any way all you need to do is ask.

Lynne Donnelly, Recording Secretary

More to come!

Paddy Fitzgerald Nolan, Past President

Paddy Fitzgerald Nolan ~ legal name Patricia as the priest wouldn’t allow my father to have me baptism as Paddy.  Married since 1979 to Brian Nolan, mother of 3 amazing daughters, grammie to 2 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. Born and raised in Godfrey ON, with all my sacraments being made at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Bedford. Following in my grandmother’s footsteps Catherine Hickey Fitzgerald who was the first secretary in Bedford at Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1931 to 1933, followed by my mother who has been a member for over 60 plus years.34 of my 39 years have been spend in the Peterborough Diocesan, home is where the heart is.  I have held many positions over my years along with running several workshops.On a weekly base, I v o lunteer at KGH as a spiritual care giver along with my dog Citori.  Citori can brighten anyone’s day.  Like Cheers everyone knows your name, at KGH everyone knows Citori’s name.I keep busy with softball as well bein g treasurer, convenor, board member at two levels, AGM Chair. I am fortune enough to be rename Team ON fastball manager for U21 for the second term of a four year cycle.Together as a family, we are maple syrup producers, along with running two small business out of home. My husband is now the local handy man and I am a grief counsellor whereas I specialist in suicide grief. I am a member of BON bereavement of ON whereas I am the regional rep for Belleville and Kingston. My passion is volunteering with victims of crimes. In my spare time I love to go 4 wheeling, read true crime, volunteering with grief and hospice.

Anne McKinnon, Corresponding Secretary & Life Member Liaison

 As an immigrant from Scotland, I arrived in 1961 to Canada, settling in Northern Ontario with my husband and our two very young boys, 3 months and 15 months old. We quickly experienced our first ever snowy winter. Soon after we welcome a daughter and another son to our family.  Staying in Ontario, we moved about and eventually settled in Toronto. After raising four children, I am now a very proud Nana of 11 grandchildren, aged 24 – 35 yrs. old.  My hobbies include knitting, sewing, quilting and doing crosswords.

Volunteering has always been a huge part of my life, as a Kinette (Kinsmen), North York General Hospital volunteer and CWL member.  Volunteering has allowed be to a part of a greater community, helping and supporting others and at the same time, sharing interests and making lifelong friends.  I first joined the CWL in the 1970s as a member of St. Timothy’s, North York ON and remained until I moved to Lindsay in 2015 and continued my membership at St. Mary’s. I have held most positions on both executives as well as appointed to Peterborough Diocese as Community Life then as Diocesan President.  Taking the lead, I have led public speaking workshops for both Toronto and Peterborough Diocese and participated in many workshops.  I am excited and look forward to taking on a role in this current executive.

Wendy Tedford, Communications Chair and Newsletter Editor 

Wendy is the mother of two boys, 9 years apart, and now out on their own, expanding their minds and life skills. The oldest son is married. Wendy is a mother-in-law of one, and a grandmother of two grandsons, one born while she was attending a CWL Fall meeting in Huntsville 2013. If you do not see Wendy at work in the travel agency, she is at work on a ball field umpiring or instructing. She volunteers in a senior’s facility with the travelling dental office, saying: “Open wide…wider”. Wendy volunteers with several community groups as she tends to get involved where people are. On the rare chance she is at home, she will be working at one of the many projects that a house continually provides. Wendy became involved with the CWL after being approached in the parking lot after an evening Mass. She didn’t think she was getting into her car until she said yes. It was to be just a little job and they really needed her. It was dark and cold, she was tired and wanted to go home so she said: “When’s the next meeting and yes, I will be your secretary”. She said yes, knowing that she did not have time for another project, but time was found, and she did and still does enjoy it! It can be a once-a-month meeting or it can expand into the many avenues and highways that this powerful organization has to offer. It can be your choice to move into that space or in response to a little nudging. CWL is good for the soul! Wendy felt it was a chance to meet new and interesting people, to check out resources, to tackle a hidden issue or a big issue and to join others and see where that could take you. She values the spiritual growth… GOOD for YOU and YOUR soul! Wendy was the Peterborough Diocesan President from 2017-2019 and the Past President from 2019-2021. Wendy received her life membership in 2020.

Lynda Macpherson, Spiritual Development Chair

I was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec to a French-Canadian father and an English American mother.  Best of worlds!  Growing up I lived in New York, Montreal and Toronto.  Yes, a “big city gal”.  While attending Humber College I met my husband and married in 1969.  I later graduated from York University. 

With our two daughters we relocated to Peterborough and in 1990 I assisted in re-activating the CWL Council at St. Alphonsus.  I had the honor of holding various positions including Organization, 1st Vice-President, President and Past President.  In 1996 I was elected to the Diocesan Council and served as Education and Health Convener, Communications Convener and also on the planning committee for the 1999 Provincial convention.  Over the years I was involved in a number of CWL workshops and thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many of our sisters throughout the Diocese.

As empty nesters in 2000 we returned to Toronto.  In 2013 my husband and I moved to Cobourg and I joined St. Michael’s CWL where I served at Spiritual Development Chair and then elected as President in 2017.  As Past President I currently hold the Communications Chair.  During this time my husband and I became grandparents to two lovely girls.  Our cup runneth over.

I have also been involved with a non-profit organization, Helping Hands (Northumberland).  This has led me to making milk bag mats for the homeless and knitting items for the needy which are distributed locally and also sent to Canadian Food for Children for global distribution.

Never have I been so proud of our CWL as in the past 18 months … COVID has not stopped us from practicing our faith, reaching out to our sisters and finding innovative ways to help the needy.  I look forward to meeting and spending time together with all of you:  “Catholic and Living It!”

Lois Crider, Community Life Chair

My name is Lois (Carew) Crider.  My home is in Cobourg.  I belong to Our Lady of Mercy CWL in Port Hope.  In my family I have two children and one grandchild.  My work for over forty years was with challenged men and women of which was very rewarding.  After retiring I started volunteering at our local hospital in palliative care as a hospice worker.  I belong to the Women’s Institute where we meet once a month.  Twice a week I work with a challenged young lad.

It was thirty-six years ago last March I became a Catholic.  When a lady joined the church in Cobourg a one year free membership to the CWL was given. That September I became their Social Convener and never thought at that time I would go as far with the CWL as I have.  I have been a life member since 2005.

Being a member of the CWL has been a learning journey for me.  It has helped me grow in my faith and made lasting friendships.  Every Catholic woman should be a member.

Pamela Bryson-Weaver, Education & Health Chair and Website Administrator

Pamela Bryson-Weaver is married to Perley Weaver, and she is the mother of three children, two with special needs. Pamela loves spending time with her husband, children, siblings, parents, and friends as much as she can. She loves spending time with her husband dancing ballroom and Argentina Tango, riding their Harleys, and sailing in the summers, curling and traveling in the winters with family and friends.

Pamela is a registered dental hygienist and former co-owner and manager of a family Dental Centre. She has been in the field of dentistry for over 35 years. Pamela has served as President of the NB Dental Hygienists Association. She served as NBDHA’s Strategic Planning Officer and served on the executive for over 20 years. Pamela was given the distinctive Lifetime Achievement Award by NBDHA. The highest award that can be achieved in her field. She has retired from dentistry.

For over 30 years Pamela has explored health and nutrition passionately. She loves to cook traditionally and grow organically. Pamela often speaks to women’s groups, organizations, and schools on health and nutrition, dental issues, and autism. Pamela held the position in her former city as Co-director of Birthright, she volunteered at Birthright for over 17 years helping women in crisis before moving to her new community in Brighton, ON.

Pamela Bryson-Weaver is a multi-award-winning author of an #1 International bestseller on Autism and is a speaker, an activist, and a developer of an educational and directory website to assist individuals, parents, and professionals dealing with autism. Pamela is uniquely qualified to speak on Autism.

Pamela has been an active member of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada (CWL) for over 35 years. She is currently Past-President and Chair of Legislation & Resolutions of the Brighton, ON, Holy Angels CWL council and currently on the Peterborough, ON, Diocesan after 3 years as Chair of Christian Family Life.  Pamela has held several chairs on several executive councils at the parish, diocesan and provincial levels.

Some notable accomplishments achieved over her many years of service in the CWL are:

  • 2020 – She currently worked on and presented the Resolution – PO.21.01; The Need to have Stillborn Human Remains Included in the Definition of Human Remains in the Criminal Code of Canada, at the 2021 Peterborough Diocesan AMM which was passed.
  • 2006 – A keynote speaker at the Halifax, NS. CWL national convention. As well speaker on Autism at CWL Provincial Annual Convention in Prince Edward Island, at CWL Provincial Annual Convention in New Brunswick, at CWL Provincial Convention in Ontario, and at Annual CWL Peterborough Diocesan in Ontario.
  • 2004 – She worked on and presented the Resolution – 04.08; Treatment of Autistic Persons in Canada, which moved on to be passed at the National level.
  • 1997 –The Resolution – 97.3 All-Terrain Vehicle Act and its regulation, Act of NB, which passed at the Provincial level. And as a result, the NB government changed its laws on All-terrain, a resolution that has saved lives.

Glenda Klein, Legislation and Resolution Chair

Glenda Klein serves as Peterborough Diocesan Resolutions and Legislation Chair (2021-23). She currently is a 49-year member at St. Mary’s, Lindsay; provincial sub-chair for organization; and a member of the national Strategically Planning Advocacy Working Group. She joined the Catholic Women’s League in 1969 in Brechin as recording secretary. She has held every position at parish level and has served all diocesan positions except vice-president. She has served as the newsletter editor, communications chair, treasurer and corresponding secretary at provincial. She is a past president of St. Kevin’s, Welland; St. John Chrysostom, Newmarket; and St. Mary’s, Lindsay (twice). She has served as national life member liaison and sub-chair to Christian family life. She has facilitated retreats and resolutions dialogues, led many Leadership & Public Speaking courses, Treasurers’ Workshops, Fieldworkers, Ontario Training Days, Project GROW, Joy in the League, and Catch the Fire, as well as serving as convention parliamentarian. She was awarded her life membership in 2006.

Glenda has been an active member of Society of Saint Vincent de Paul for over 30 years and currently serves as local president. She is retired from active service in Guiding and Scouting after 30 years. In her spare time, she enjoys playing cards and Wordscraper, writing songs and skits, making squares, and reading. She is happily married; has three children; and four people call her Gramma.

Glenda loves the opportunities that the League offers to serve and to grow in skills and faith. As part of the Advocacy Working Group, we hope to generate materials and workshops which will help all League members to be more effective at speaking up and speaking out about social justice issues. It is my pleasure to consult with both council and diocesan resolutions and legislation chairs, as well as provincial and national chairs once the pandemic is over and resolutions start to flow again.

Madeline Pearson, Membership/Mentorship Liaison

Madeline Pearson had provided leadership as a CWL member in St. Patrick’s Church in Kinmount on an on-going basis for several decades.. Madeline grew up in Galway township.

She married her husband Ralph who was a Municipal Supervisor. He worked hard and raised several horses on their farm. They raised 8 children. Ralph passed away in 2010 The family includes 28 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren

Madeline taught primary grades in elementary school in Kirkfield, St. John’s and in Lindsay, both at St. Mary’s and John Paul II.  She retired from Saint John Paul II School in Lindsay.

Madeline has been part of the Peterborough Diocesan Council for many years holding the office of Diocesan President twice in 1972-1974 and 1998-2000. 

In her retirement from teaching, she has also been a Municipal Councillor volunteering in the Township of Trent Lakes, formerly Galway Cavendish. Upon retirement, she received a memorial clock honouring her for many years of contribution to leadership within the Township.

Madeline now resides in Bobcaygeon but still holds the position of President in her CWL council of St. Patrick’s in Kinmount.

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