Members of the Catholic Women’s League at the University of Victoria gathered for their first meeting of the year on Jan. 29. From left to right: Catherine Shenton, Elizabeth Fitzmaurice, Lucille Schaubroeck, Kayla Hart, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Jocelyn Sunderland, Anna Ott, Hailey Cleaves and Nadia Cornejo. Photo by Bronwyn Lawrie

University-based CWL celebrates one year

  • February 1, 2012

VICTORIA, B.C. - As it celebrates its first anniversary since formation on Feb. 13, 2011, the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) chapter at the University of Victoria (UVic) is young in more ways than one. 

The second university-based CWL chapter in Canada, all the members of the UVic CWL are under the age of 30.

“We’re really excited to have women establishing CWLs on university campuses,” said Velma Harasen, the CWL’s national president. “Their youth voice brings a whole new perspective to the League.”

Since its inception, the UVic CWL has grown from 12 original members to include more young women both on and off the university campus. The other university-based CWL can be found at St. Joseph’s College in Alberta.

“The CWL provides women with the opportunity to grow in fellowship, faith and to actively provide service in their parish and community,” said UVic CWL president Jocelyn Sunderland, 28. “We are excited to be learning to provide an atmosphere for young Catholic women where they can develop important relationships with their peers and provide service in our community.”

In the past year, the UVic CWL has organized a number of social events, helped with UVic Catholic Students Association events and ran a Lenten retreat at the Poor Clares’ monastery in Duncan, B.C. Looking forward, the League is considering organizing a book club, a Theology of the Body course and a knitting drive for the homeless.

“The CWL is a large group of women who have had a positive impact on our society and country,” said Sunderland.  “The CWL is important because it provides women with the opportunity to grow in fellowship, faith and to actively provide service in their parish and community.”

Bigger than any specific activity is the sense of community created by League members working together for a common goal.

“For the women, it’s very beneficial to belong to a university council,” said Harasen. “Once they leave university and perhaps move to a strange new city, they will have that connection to the CWL that they can go to for support or to have a community to belong to.”

Looking to the years ahead, UVic CWL members want to carry forward the joy experienced at the UVic League’s inauguration.

“I wish that every woman could experience the blessing that the CWL has to pour into their lives,” said UVic CWL member Lucille Schaubroeck, 19. 

“I know from my encounters with members from other councils that having such a young CWL is really exciting for them. I would really love to see a younger generation of CWL rise up...  and take up the legacy that these women are leaving for us right now.” 

The UVic CWL is planning a small celebration to commemorate the anniversary.

(Lawrie, 20, is a creative writing major at the University of Victoria. Read her full profile at

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