Ellen Greeley

Ellen Greeley

August 20, 2012

Ellen Greeley's Catholic roots run deep.

"Mom was a very strong CWL member – some called her Mrs. CWL – and I am sure some of her passion rubbed off on me."

Her mother, Kay Charest, joined the CWL in 1952 when the family moved to Edmonton's St. James Parish.

"My sisters and I joined the choir."

When Greeley returned to the area in 1964 as a married woman, her mother "encouraged me to join the CWL at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. So when the membership convener approached me to take a membership I accepted."

It complemented her involvement in her children's school – St. Francis of Assisi – and their parish.

"My youngest daughter was in Brownies and since the CWL sponsored Girl Guides and Brownies I helped out there too."

Then there was the CWL itself.

"Like most CWL councils in those days, they were always doing events to raise money for our projects. So I got involved with chicken suppers and bazaars and we hosted a spring tea at St. Mary's Boys School."

The league proved to be a stepping stone for Greeley personally.

"I was always rather shy when I was younger, so when one of the ladies – Rita Matthews – offered to instruct a Christopher course, I took it. This helped me gain confidence and soon I became treasurer for our council.

"This led to other convenerships and eventually to president of my council. From there I was asked to be zone chair and this lead to my serving on the diocesan council for eight years."

As her involvement in the league's work and organization grew, Greeley realized she was evolving, growing.


"The more I got involved, the more I learned, the stronger a person I became and the more confident I became," she says. "I always had strong views about education and social justice issues and CWL gave me a means of expressing these views.

"I am not afraid to let the world know I am Catholic and to express my opinion. I am no shrinking violet, thanks to the CWL."

But in truth, the main draw for Greeley is the CWL's promotion of spiritual development which allows her to grow in her faith.

"The first object of the CWL is spiritual development and this is very true for me," she explains.

There's the added bonus of the bond that develops between CWL members.

"I have been given a large network of wonderful 'sisters' to share my faith and my views," agrees Greeley.

When asked if she would recommend the CWL to other women, her response is immediate as she says the league's work "is not done in a militant way, but respectfully, reverently, quietly, faithfully and with love.

"I will be a CWL member as long as I have breath in me and I will encourage all ladies, especially our younger women, to join us."