4 June 7, 2020 catholicregister.org
BY MICKEY CONLON The Catholic Register
Like much of the nation, the best-laid plans of the Catholic Women's League have been set aside by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 100th anniversary celebra- tions of the Catholic women's or- ganization planned for its conven- tion in Montreal this August have been cancelled - but that doesn't mean the CWL won't be commem- orating its roots in this centennial year. "We're still celebrating as best we can," said Anne-Marie Gorman, national president of the CWL, which was founded June 17, 1920. Its centenary committee has been working on this special anni- versary for the past five years and intends to do what it can to salvage the celebration. A number of projects planned in conjunction with the anni- versary have been taking place, including each council planting 100 trees for the centenary, said Gorman. "People want to be doing something, they want to take action even though we're planted (at home) for safety reasons," said Gorman. "Things are going on." An historic photo wall was something members could have expected if they were in Montreal for the planned Aug. 9-12 occasion. These will still be shown, most likely in some online format. Even the August celebrations will go online. It won't be the huge celebration that was expected for the 75,000 women-strong league, but it will be the best that can be done in the circumstances of a nation in virtual lockdown. Various committees will be meeting virtually, there will be online presentations and keynote addresses from bioethicists Sr. Nuala Kenny and Cory Labrecque as well as Donna Orsuto, co- founder of the Lay Centre in Rome. "It will be more or less like we're going to a convention, at least in the program part," said Gorman. In some ways, Gorman wonders if the CWL would be "so immersed" in its mission "to grow in faith and to witness to the love of God through ministry and service" if not for COVID-19. Indeed, a quick look at the CWL website shows things have not slowed down. Communiques continue to be published regularly for members and Gorman says its committees are meeting on a continual basis, just by new means. Ten working groups have also been formed to work on matters ranging from Catholic social teaching to the league's focus on social justice. "This time, as stressful as it has been and the amount of un- certainty that it has presented has provided all kinds of opportunities for people to find different ways of being in communion with each other, connected with each other," she said. The CWL will host its next con- vention in Toronto in 2021 and it should have some centenary cel- ebration aspect to it as it will be the 100th anniversary of the first convention. As for the league's other work, it carries on. The annual meeting with MPs from all parties on Par- liament Hill March 30-April 2 was cancelled due to the virus, but members continue to add the league's voice to issues like Bill C-7 on medically-assisted dying. "That's what we've done," said Gorman. "Women of faith, they serve, they're into social justice in a big way and they will continue to do so."
BY MICKEY CONLON The Catholic Register
There were few like Joseph Gideon in the world of Catholic travel where for six decades he made dreams come true for those seeking a pilgrimage experience. The patriarch and founder of Gideon Travel and Tours, Mr. Gideon passed away May 21 peacefully at his home surround- ed by his family, including his wife Marcelle. "By the grace of God, Joseph was chosen to leave this Earth on the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus rose to Heaven," his daughter Pauline wrote in a message to The Catholic Register , with whom the Gideon family has a longstanding relationship. "We are comforted knowing that Jesus has taken him to the everlasting life." Mr. Gideon was a giant in the travel industry and is remembered by the people he worked with as a man of integrity and honesty, and by Church leaders for his commit- ment to basing journeys on the life of Jesus. "Joe was a committed Catholic who emphasized the importance of a pilgrimage based on the life of Jesus, so it was a spiritual journey rather than a tour," said Kitty McGilly, a Catholic pil- grimage leader who worked with Gideon Travel and Tours for more than 20 years. McGilly was introduced to Mr. Gideon by a Franciscan priest at his midtown Toronto office "and I never looked back." It was something McGilly shared with the travel agency's employees who were devoted to Mr. Gideon and enjoyed working in his efficient and welcoming office. "They were long term, each with a specific area of expertise. Joe trained them and relied on them thereafter," she said. "In a world of technology, long waits and voice messages, Gideon Travel provided personal service. The phone was always answered and response to requests immediate." She shares the story of one loyal employee, Sylvia, who after the office moved to south Etobicoke would take public transit from her east-end home each day "because, she told me, she liked working for Mr. Gideon." Other employees purchased homes close to the new office for the same reason. It's something that is not un- familiar to staff at The Catholic Register, where Mr. Gideon's re- lationship dates back to 1959, when Mr. Gideon first opened Gideon Tours and Travel. While editors and advertising managers have come and gone, Mr. Gideon remained constant. His ads appeared in the same spot on Page 4 until the COVID-19 pandemic closed the travel industry. "It's the most important adver- tising outlet to publicize our tours," Mr. Gideon told The Register in 2018. Gideon had three daughters, Pauline, Jacqueline and Angeline. Pauline heads up the company now. "Mr. Gideon was a true gentleman in every sense of the word," said Catholic Register publisher and editor Jim O'Leary. "He could talk for hours about his travels around the world and the pilgrimages he led that were far too many to count to the Holy Land and other holy destinations. For more 60 years he was a true and loyal friend of The Catholic Register . We are all going to miss him." Mr. Gideon knew of what he spoke about on his "fascinating" (as he perceived all his pilgrim- ages) journeys to the Holy Land. He was a native of Haifa and a committed Palestinian, said McGilly. He was always anxious about the plight of his homeland and its people, pained when they pained, yet never engaged in politics in that regard, she said. "He quietly financially supported many of the needy in his homeland and, when possible, gave them employment," said McGilly.
CWL takes centennial celebrations online
The Catholic Women's League has changed a lot over its 100-year history, adapting to the times and issues of the day. Above, a scene from the 2016 annual convention. Left, a group of CWL women are busy in the kitchen in the 1950s. The CWL's plans to celebrate its past and its present in Montreal have been sidelined because of the pandemic, but will go ahead with an online program in August.
(Above, Register file photo; left, courtesy St. Andrew's Parish, Oakville, Ont.)
Joe Gideon: A giant in Catholic travel industry
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