Madison Catholic Woman’s Club holds 102nd annual Spring Celebration Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jun. 16, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
Madison Catholic Woman's Club
Jessica Michna portrays former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in a program at the Madison Catholic Woman’s Club Spring Celebration. (Catholic Herald photo/Mary C. Uhler)

MADISON -- The Madison Catholic Woman's Club celebrated women of the past and present at the club's 102nd annual Spring Celebration held recently at the Blackhawk County Club.

Christian Achievement Award

First for the present. Each year the club recognizes an individual or group of individuals who perform charitable works in the community with its Christian Achievement Award.

This year the award went to Rita Hohlstein, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee. Married to Ernie for 50 years, Hohlstein has two children and four grandchildren, noted Kathy Stroshane, the club's Spiritual Committee chairperson.

A retired occupational therapist, Holstein has put the Works of Mercy into action in her life, said Stroshane.

Among her activities, she has traveled to Guatemala and Mexico to help build homes for families in need.

She has been in charge of a monthly meal at the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison. She has taught CCD and Confirmation classes in her parish.

In the community, she is chair of the board of the Waisman Center and serves as a tour guide for the Crane Foundation.

In accepting the award, Holstein said the people in Guatemala were "so elated" to get this small home she helped build. It was built for a family of 10. "They were warm, loving, and giving," she said.

She has been inspired by the words of a former pastor of her parish, Fr. Elmer Ditzel, who urged people to "do what we can to make someone's life better."

Bringing Eleanor Roosevelt to life

The program at the celebration was presented by Jessica Michna, who looked to the past to bring former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to life.

Michna started her company, First Impressions, combining her interest in history and theater. She has done numerous productions of famous women, including Mary Todd Lincoln, Abigail Adams, and others.

Michna spoke and dressed as Eleanor Roosevelt, indeed bringing her to life. She recalled her childhood as the "ugly duckling" of her family.

She talked about meeting a distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when he was a "tall and handsome" college student. They both loved to read poetry, take long walks, and talk about politics.

They married and Eleanor said, "For once in my life, I really felt beautiful." Eleanor and her husband had six children in the first 12 years of their marriage. She discussed Franklin's political career, leading eventually to the White House.

Franklin had an affair with her secretary, Lucy Mercer, but Eleanor stayed with him, continuing to be "his helpmate and political advisor."

After Franklin contracted polio and couldn't walk well, Eleanor travelled across America -- nearly 23,000 miles -- representing her husband.

Catholic Woman's Club

The Madison Catholic Woman's Club reported on its activities for the past year. The club provided $9,000 in cash donations to a variety of Catholic organizations and schools, as well as non-cash donations of over $6,000 to Pregnancy Helpline, the Women's Care Center, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

The club had 15 new members in the past year and welcomes new members.

For more information on membership or other activities, go to

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