At 100 years old, Maureen Moran is a role model of prayer and faithfulness for the Catholic Women’s League of Canada and generations of Catholic women to come.
“She has this sense about her, that just tells you that there’s something special in this lady,” said Fran Lucas, former national president of the CWL and a longtime member of the CWL at St. Joseph’s Basilica.
“She’s very faith-filled, and she is someone we look up to as a council. And she did her work in a quiet way. She didn’t look to attract attention to how she would serve us all. She came to our meetings faithfully until she couldn’t any longer. She was a model for us. She is a model.”
As a lifetime member of the CWL Council at St. Joseph’s Basilica (60 years) and a former parish CWL president (1991-1993), Moran said faith has sustained her throughout her life, especially during the severe illness of her husband.
“I prayed a lot in those years … If it hadn’t been for my faith, I don’t know how I would have pulled through everything,” Moran recalled.
Don Neeland suffered from the effects of polio for more than 50 years and his illness began when the couple had two toddlers and an infant. Moran cared for her husband and her children, while still investing time and talent in her parish community and the CWL.
“Faith is just amazing! And you know, it’s important to me that I don’t sound maudlin when I speak about this suffering. Because that’s not how I feel. I thank the dear Lord that He was there for me. I think it might have been easy to fall by the wayside, but He gave me strength,” shared Moran.
The Catholic Women’s League was founded in Edmonton in 1912 in order to help refugees and women find community and support. The national organization was formed eight years later. Today, there are an estimated 60,000 CWL members across Canada and 3,700 members within the Archdiocese of Edmonton. The organization hopes to increase their numbers by welcoming a new generation into their fold.
“We can first offer our faith,” Lucas said. “Our first pillar is faith, especially with everything we’ve gone through over the last few years, (with the COVID-19 pandemic), it is so important that we all come together.”
“I’ve worked with many young women through the CWL and they are so passionate about serving our communities. So it doesn’t matter if they’re 10 years old, 20 years old in university or 40 years old with a young family. We can all come together and grow stronger together.”
Prayer is at the center of the legacy that Moran has created through her life and work with the CWL. Moran has been a mentor to Anita Patsula – and many others – through her determination and confidence.
“Maureen would often say ‘Come Holy Spirit, enlighten my heart and my mind and fill me with the fire of your love!’ And then [when we would pray for a difficult intention] she would say to the Holy Spirit, ‘Now it’s your job! Do something!’,” said Patsula, a former president of the St. Joseph’s Basilica CWL.
“Because of Maureen I pray now to the Holy Spirit much more. She mentored me in that.”
Maureen Moran joined the CWL when she was in her late teens, and then later became involved with the CWL as an adult. She jokingly recounts that her love of a good date slowed her initial involvement with the organization.
“There was a lapse there. I think I was dating too much, if there is such a thing. You can never date too much!”,” Moran said. But eventually she became involved again because she “enjoyed meetings.”
The close bonds of friendship that she forged through the CWL have been central to Moran’s love for the CWL. She said the need for close, Christian friends was key for her through her life. Younger generations of women need that too, in order to remain faithful to the Lord even in difficult times.
“The spiritual aspect (of the CWL) appealed to me, and the friendships you make,” Moran said. “It’s the friendships that keep you active in your faith. It’s that simple. Bonding and friendships, that’s what keeps you going. That is still true for young people today.”
Maureen Moran demonstrates “the importance of being a CWL member,” Lucas said.
“She is 100 years old, and still continues her membership . . . she knows that she can draw strength from her CWL community because we pray for each other. We visit each other. We call each other.”
As the national CWL looks to the future, the example of Maureen Moran is a model for the beauty of character that can serve as a welcome to new members and a model for a new generation of CWL leadership.
When asked what advice she has for young women who may be struggling in their faith or difficult circumstances, Moran said: “You must pray to the dear Lord! Pray, but make it intimate, personal. When I talk to the Lord it’s very personal. It’s good for me that way. I don’t know what the dear Lord thinks!”
Jenny Connelly – Archdiocese of Edmonton
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