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Hamilton Diocese CWL
Special Event Guidelines

This page provides a simple resource for anyone who is charged with the responsibility of organizing a special event. It includes basic protocols, planning tips and speaker selection guidelines.

Planning Inviting Diocesan Executive
Inviting Guest Speaker Day of Event
Inviting Guests  

  1. Planning a special event is a team effort, with a committee to make the decisions and take care of specific details.
  2. The most important details are the date and location of the celebration. Check the parish calendar for a conflict with your event, and confirm that your Spiritual Advisor is available -- if that is what you want. If you are inviting another priest to celebrate the Mass, check with your pastor. He may wish to concelebrate. Confirm the availability of the church/hall/restaurant.
  3. Discuss the price of event tickets, speaker choices, location and time frame.
  4. Sketch out the sequence of events for this event, such as Mass, lunch, awards presentation, speaker, etc.
  5. Assign the committee members to specific responsibilities. NOTE:  all invitations to guest speakers and special guests should come from the president. For example:   Mary - Mass, Joan - works with the restaurant, Sue - pins, Jerri - introduction of guest speaker. After responsibilities are assigned, let these capable women handle their job. Committee members can be encouraged to have a sub-committee to share the workload.
  6. Have meetings to update each other on the progress of event planning, but do not interfere with their work unless asked, or you detect a problem.

Inviting Guest Speakers

All invitations comes from the Council President
  1. Choose a topic for your event that would be of interest to your council members.
  2. Choose a guest speaker who could connect with your audience.
  3. Decide how long the talk should be.
  4. Consider the speaker fee that your council can afford.
  5. Contact the speaker of your choice.
  6. Confirm your date, time, location, talk length, speaker fee and/or mileage stipend needed. Ask is any special equipment is required. Confirm if your speaker is bringing a travelling companion (husband/wife/driver)
  7. Inquire if your speaker and/or companion have food allergies or special needs.
  8. Follow up the phone conversation with a letter stating all the details you discussed on the phone, including a map with accurate directions and details of the entire event; so the speaker will be informed. (It is important to remember that all our guest speakers may not wish to join us for Mass, but would like to know the location of the parish hall or restaurant so they can join you there.)
  9. Confirm in the letter that you will contact the guest speaker the week prior to the event to answer any last minute questions.
  10. Request any information be sent to you that will facilitate an accurate introduction of the guest speaker.

Inviting Guests

When inviting guests outside of the parish family.
  1. Decide the list of guests that your council will invite. Invited guests are not required to pay for their meals so watch your price frame. Incorporate these extra costs into your budget.
  2. The initial contact may be by telephone (to confirm availability,) but the official invitation must be sent.
  3. An RSVP telephone number and a cut off date are necessary.
  4. Send out the invitations.

Inviting Diocesan Executive

When inviting the Diocesan President or Diocesan Executive member in an official capacity.
  1. Confirm by telephone the availability of the Diocesan Executive. Official invitations for special anniversaries and events start with the Diocesan President. If the Diocesan President cannot attend your event, she will invite another member of the executive to attend in her place. The Diocesan President will inform you of the executive member who will attend in an official capacity.
  2. You may, but it is not necessary, invite the whole Diocesan executive to your special event. You may prefer to choose specific executive members who have a particular connection to your parish.
  3. Discuss with your Diocesan delegate the capacity of her visit. Is she bringing Diocesan greetings at the event? Is she presenting a special certificate or making pin presentations? Art you asking her to be your guest speaker?
  4. Confirm details by telephone and follow up with an invitation or letter. Even though we may have been to your parish before, an accurate map is a big help on the day of the event.
  5. No biography information is needed for a Diocesan executive member who is bringing greetings or making a presentation. If your Diocesan executive member is your guest speaker, you show have a short biography prepared. Please check to correct pronunciation and executive position of your invited guests before introducing them.
  6. The week prior to the event, connect with the invited Diocesan guest to check details and last minute changes.

Day of the Event

Mass is included
  1. Assign specific council members to greet your guest(s) at the church entrance. This member should know the person she is greeting and should stay with the guest(s) until the president is available.
  2. Your guest(s) should be seated in reserved seating.
  3. A welcome to your special guests might be made at the beginning of Mass by commentator or celebrant to recognize their attendance.
  4. If the celebration is a part of your Mass, you would introduce the invited guest(s) before they join you at the podium. You should acknowledge your guest(s) with a simple introduction starting with the guest of highest ranking and mentioning all guests in attendance, i.e., Diocesan President, her daughter, Spiritual Life Chairperson and the Resolution Chairperson are in attendance. The President is introduced first, Spiritual Life Chairperson second, Resolutions Chairperson third, and finally, the President's daughter. Only the President would join you for the presentations unless arranged otherwise.
  5. If the celebration is after Mass, no introduction during the body of the Mass is necessary.
Mass is NOT included
  1. When the event has moved to a hall or restaurant, a member shall be assigned to stay with the guest(s) until they are seated at the head table. All invited guests have assigned seating, not necessarily at the head table (if space is at a premium). The member shall keep the guest informed of any changes in the format for the day.
  2. The President shall make every effort to greet the guest(s) as soon as she can. Make your guest(s) feel very welcome. Introduce the guest(s) to other members at the head table and initiate conversation.
  3. Your introduction at the beginning of your event should include all invited guests, including your Spiritual Advisor and any visiting clergy (in order of seniority.)
  4. Your head table is always served first. This allows for your guests to finish whatever is served before you require them for the presentations or talk.
  5. Ensure any audio or video equipment is tested in advance of the event for accuracy. Have someone who has working knowledge of the machine in attendance.
  6. Have any presentation items blessed in advance or plan for the blessing to be done by your Spiritual Advisor at this time. Arrange the sequence of the presentation items in advance. Have the items ready to be handed out.
  7. Your Mistress of Ceremonies should keep the flow of your special event on track and on time.
  8. Introductions should be accurate, short and flattering. A guest will provide a resumé if requested, but you should not use all the material included in the dossier. The person (not necessarily the President) doing the introduction should know the correct pronunciation of her material.
  9. Allow the speaker your full attention. You should not be dealing with problems in the kitchen or other distraction if you are at the head table. Assign another member of the planning team the responsibility of handling things in your name.
  10. Your speaker should adhere to your designated time line. If your speaker is talking significantly over the time frame, you may need to get the speaker's attention and discretely indicate the need to "wrap it up".
  11. Have someone assigned the responsibility of thanking the guest speaker. This person should have the gift or honorarium with them. The presentation is made. Applause is encouraged.
  12. Closing statements are made by the President and/or the Mistress of Ceremonies.
  13. Your guest should be escorted to the entrance, to the hall, or restaurant, and if possible, watch to make sure of their safety to their car.
  14. Regarding gifts to the Diocesan executive:  It is an honour to be invited to join you for your special event. Mileage to and from your event is covered by Diocesan expense. If your council chooses, you may present the Diocesan member with a cheque to cover these expenses. We pay $0.30 per kilometre. The executive member will give this cheque to the Treasurer to balance the mileage total. Any stipend received by a Diocesan executive is donated to the Diocesan League Development Fund to assist with the expenses of executive members going to the Provincial and National conventions. Your council may choose to give the Diocesan executive a gift for joining you for this event. Your gift is the member's to keep. If the Diocesan executive is your guest speaker, you may wish to consider the time spent preparing their talk when choosing an appropriate than you gift.

    The best rule of hospitality is "treat your guests as you would want to be treated."

    And remember, no one will know if "little things" go wrong, so don't let the little things spoil your special event.

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