CWLF Closing Ceremony and New Beginnings with Saint Paul University

Rita Janes, Chair, Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation (CWLF), presents Dr. Chantal Beauvais, rector of Saint Paul University with a gift of $75 000 to allow the Providence school of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality, Saint Paul University to establish the Catholic Women’s Leadership Program, a first in Canada. This national university-level certificate program integrates personal, professional, and faith development into a holistic program for women.

Dr. Chantal Beauvais, thanks the foundation for the generous gift stating, “Thank you Rita and all the board members who approved this gift, and thank you to everyone who made this week a special gathering. (We) are proud to be partnering with the CWLF to support and promote women in leadership roles”.

Fourteen participants, along with board members and leading learners, gathered in the beautiful chapel at Saint Paul University for a Eucharistic Celebration, giving thanks for an amazing week of learning in a very caring and vibrant community of women leaders from across Canada. The evening ended with a banquet and square dancing to fiddle music.

Rita Janes

Rita Janes


Rita has been a member of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation since January 2015 and was appointed Chair on January 1, 2017.


Federal MP Ottawa-Vanier, Mona Fortier, Hosts Parliament Building Visit

Tuesday afternoon participants in the CWLF Leadership Program, along with facilitators from Saint Paul University, had an engaging visit to Parliament Building hosted by Mona Fortier, mp for Ottawa-Vanier who shared experiences about women in leadership and politics.
Thank you, Mona Fortier, for sharing your story, journey, and passion for making a difference.

Theresa Schopf

Theresa Schopf

CWLF Member at Large

Theresa was elected a director of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation effective January 1, 2018, and is very excited to work with this new program.


Our Dream Has Become a Reality

The Dream

In 2012, the Sisters of Service and the Catholic Women’s League of Canada had a dream. It was to transform the leadership landscape education of Canadian Catholic women. In 2014, enabled by the leadership of Claire Heron, Velma Harasen and  Kim Scammell,  Catholic Women League members,  the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation (“Foundation”) came to fruition and the dream and vision, of the Sisters of Service and the Catholic Women’s League became a reality.

The Reality

The Program

In further response to this vision, in 2015, the newly expanded Foundation Board was charged with the responsibility of developing a high quality leadership program for women, consistent with Catholic values.  Since then, and in partnership with the Providence School of Transformative Leadership at Saint Paul University, Ottawa, a Leadership Program for Catholic women has been developed. This year long Leadership Program for Canadian Catholic women will begin in May 2018 and with your support will continue for many years into the future.

Essential ingredients of the Program are the integration of personal, professional and faith development, supporting participants in the Program to be transformational and influential leaders where they live, work and volunteer.  A Catholic faith perspective informs the entire Program.

The Program is offered online and face to face, guided by highly respected facilitators and Saint Paul University faculty. It includes the following:

  • Online introductory module, May 2018
  • A five-day in-residence session at Saint Paul University , June 2018
  • Seven online study modules (10-15 hours per month) consisting of videos, readings, personal reflections and discussion forums, August to April, 2018-19.
  • A four-day in-residence session at Saint Paul University , May 2019.
  • An ongoing mentorship program during and after the Program is completed.

The Program, including the educational elements and all travel and living expenses, costs the Foundation $120,000 for each group of participants. Program participants demonstrate their commitment to the program with a $1,000 contribution to the Foundation and their commitment of time.

At the successful completion of the Program the candidates will receive a Certificate from Saint Paul University and the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation.

The Candidates

We are excited to announce that 14 enthusiastic women have been selected for the Leadership Program for 2018 – 19. They are from all regions of Canada (three from the Atlantic; five from Central; four from the West; and 2 from the Territories) and include First Nations and visible minorities.  This group of women have different careers, a range of ages and they all have one thing in common and that is their desire to build “a just, merciful, and compassionate world nurtured by the genius of women”.


You can meet these 14 women here.

Support and the Future

The dream has become a reality because of the support of many.  The initial gifts from the Sisters of Service and the Catholic Women’s League of Canada set the stage for the dream to form and development of the Program to begin. With a substantial financial donation from the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Presentation of Newfoundland, the dream grew and details for the Program were further developed.   The generous gifts from  many other donors across Canada: our religious congregations; our parishes; our dioceses; charitable foundations; and  many Catholic Women’s League members helped to make the dream a reality and the Program ready to implement.

We are very grateful to those who have contributed so far and continue to support us in so many ways. The Board Members would appreciate your continued financial support so we can continue the Program well into the future.

The participants in the Program would be grateful for your prayers as they blaze our future Catholic presence in Canadian society.

Rita Janes

Rita Janes


Rita has been a member of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation since January 2015 and was appointed Chair on January 1, 2017.


Applications are now Available!

Are you inspired as a Catholic woman to be a transformational and influential leader where you live, work and volunteer?

The Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation is now accepting applications for the inaugural program which begins in May 2018.

Applications will be accepted until November 15, 2017.

The Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation is seeking talented Canadian Catholic women to apply for the Foundation’s inaugural Leadership Program.

The Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation has partnered with the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at Saint Paul University in Ottawa to offer the CWLF’s unique leadership Program beginning in May 2018.

Information about the program is available on the Leadership Program page of our website.

For applicant criteria, application instructions and application form, please see our Leadership Program page.


CWL National Convention, Charlottetown, PEI

Presentation to the CWL National Convention , Charlottetown, PEI, August 5 – 8, 2017 by  Rita Janes, Chair, Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation

Madame Chair

Thank you President Margaret Anne and National Board for the opportunity to speak to the Convention about the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation – an organization charged with developing and supporting quality leadership programs for Canadian Catholic women; an organization founded by the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.

Let me begin this presentation by saying how grateful the Foundation Board is to the Catholic Women’s League for your support over the past five years and, your support, in so many ways.

When Sisters of Service in 2012 approached the Catholic Women’s League offering, as part of their legacy, $500 000 to provide quality programming for catholic women,  the Catholic Women’s League ( that is you) didn’t have to ponder too long before accepting the offer.

In your wisdom, you saw it as a way to continue your long history of promoting and developing the leadership of your members and, indeed, now you were able to reach out to all Canadian Catholic women. You saw it as a way to provide leadership education for women, but more in-depth.

The Sisters of Service were delighted with your decision.

And to show its commitment, the CWL agreed to match the Sisters of Service donation of $500 000.

So, the two organizations, inspired by a shared mission of having more women in leadership roles, were able to bring to reality a vision to transform the leadership landscape for Canadian Catholic women and for society.

Immediately, now that was in 2012, an interim committee of very experienced League members was tasked with establishing an incorporated organization under the Canada Not-for- Profit Corporation and have it registered as a charitable public foundation.

Through the committee’s hard work and dedication, this became a reality in 2014, and the first Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation Board was established in 2015.

The first task of the Board was to develop a Mission Statement, and we did, namely,

“ to fund leadership education that inspires Catholic women to be transformational and influential leaders where they live, work and volunteer”.

“to fund leadership education” is and has been a very important focus for us. We knew very early that the endowment fund set up by the Sisters of Service and the Catholic Women’s League, both setting restrictions on its use, would have to be increased from the initial $1 million  to at least $2.5 million if we were to provide the quality leadership  program we envisaged for women from all over Canada, and, yes, to carry this program into the future.

Hence the Capital Campaign, which has been ongoing for the last 18 months, was initiated.

No, we were not able to “ fund the program” and programs into the future without increasing the endowment fund.

Thank you Campaign Cabinet and Helpers

And so this leads me to express my gratitude to the many Catholic Women League members, who gave so much of their time, talent, perseverance, and determination to be voluntary solicitors for the Campaign and to bring us quite close to our target of $1.5 Million.

I have to give a special thank you to Claire Heron who chaired the Campaign, Velma Harrison, Betty Anne Brown, Kathy Bouchard, and Josephine  Pettigrew who chaired special committees; to the representatives from each Province and the teams of CWL members they engaged seeking donations from targeted donors.

Thank you. We truly appreciate what you have done. Soliciting donations is not an easy job, but you showed determination.  You obviously believed in the cause.

Your names (all 65 of you and all CWL members) are on the banner by the exhibit table. Come by.


Thank you, Donors

Thank you also to our many donors, especially the Sister Religious, Congregations and Dioceses across Canada, targeted in our initial campaign.

Your generosity is very much appreciated. We received gifts from $500 000 (yes the two Sister Congregations from NL committed to $500 000) and we received gifts of $5.00 and all were, and are so welcome.  $5.00 from a person living on a “Senior’s  Pension” or $100 from a struggling Council can also be a lot of money.

We did receive many donations from CWL councils, and from CWL members, especially after we ran an article in the Spring magazine asking for your support.

It is not too late to donate.
CWLF Leadership Program

In keeping with our Mission and in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation, the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation Board has the responsibility “To develop women’s leadership capacity-building programs that are of the highest quality and that are consistent with Catholic values by establishing and maintaining partnerships with key educational institutions” (Objective 1).

I am so pleased to announce to you today that the initial Leadership Program will begin in May 2018 at the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality, Saint Paul University, Ottawa.

Our year-long Certificate Program has been specifically designed to integrate faith and life, personal and professional leadership development.

Spirituality and a Catholic faith perspective are the foundations of all activities; prayer and reflective practice are core elements that are integrated throughout the program.

Women will participate in specially developed modules, both face-to-face: 5 days residency to kick start the program, 11 months online, and 3 days at the end, again face to face and residency; and there will be ongoing mentorship.

After completing the program, women will have the skills they need to make a tremendous difference in their community,  whether they are acting or speaking on behalf of an organization, fundraising for a local community group, or serving as a director of a major corporation.

For more information about the program be sure to pick up a brochure or just come and talk to me.

Candidates for the Program

A candidate for the Program must be a Canadian Catholic woman, at least 21 years of age, and of any background and experience.  A candidate for the Program will not have to qualify for university admission. She might be a teacher, a sales clerk, an electrician, a nurse, a homecare worker, a doctor, a lawyer, or a politician. All are welcome to apply.

More details about the criteria, the commitment a woman must make to participate, and application form will be shortly available on our website.

We will start accepting applicants in September, and a selection committee, made up of Board and non-Board people is being formed to make the final selection of candidates for the Program.

SO AGAIN, THANK YOU. The fund raising is ongoing, and I am appealing to each and every member, each and every Council, to donate what you can to this very important program happening for Catholic women in Canada today, and one that will have a tremendous impact on the secular society in which we presently live.

We need your support, the support of all our members both financially and morally.

Come by our table in the Exhibit Space and chat to me. Take some brochures back to your Council.

Thank you.

Rita Janes

Rita Janes


Rita has been a member of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation since January 2015 and was appointed Chair on January 1, 2017.