cwlCatholic Women’s League

Mrs. Sheila Thysse, 74 Diaz Road, Parsons Hill, Port Elizabeth. Tel, Cell 082 970 0731, E-mail:

The first branch of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) was started in Cape Town in 1930 by Agnes Shaw, and by 1945 had spread throughout South Africa, including the Eastern Cape where the first branch was formed at St. Patrick’s parish in Sydenham in 1946. The first Annual General Meeting (AGM)of the Port Elizabeth Diocesan Council was held in the MacSherry Hall in 1956.
Like all societies the CWL has experienced a number of ups and downs. What has not changed, is the commitment of those involved and their support of diocesan charities and the Bishop’s Seminarian Fund.
CWL branches continue to emerge in parishes throughout the Port Elizabeth diocese. The AGM’s are held at different venues in the diocese each year. Members raise funds for the diocesan seminary fund, comfort the sick, console the bereaved, feed and clothe the needy, assist the elderly, uphold the sanctity of life, through the support of all Church initiatives opposing abortion, and provide a safe environment for pregnant women. Over the past 10 years greater emphasis has been placed on branch involvement in outreach to those who are infected and affected by HIV/Aids, especially the plight of orphans.
The CWL now make parcels for the Rape Crisis Centre in Port Elizabeth. Every second month our Branches bring to the Diocesan meeting goodie bags for children, teenagers and adults who have been raped. We hand these over to the centre at Dora and have letters on file of thanks. The small parcels bring joy in a ghastly situation.
Today the Port Elizabeth diocese comprises: 8 Lone Branches (Cradock, Bedford/Adelaide, Fort Beaufort, Grahamstown, King William’s Town, Port Alfred and Somerset East.) 12 Parish Branches in the Port Elizabeth region and 10 Parish Branches in the East London region. CWL membership in the diocese currently totals 558 members (in 30 branches).

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