Catholic women energized by national convention Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Jane Lepeska Grinde, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Dec. 01, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Eleven women from the Madison Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (MDCCW) gathered with more than 600 women at the recent National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) convention in Indianapolis for four days.

MDCCW Co-Presidents Ellen Martin, Good Shepherd Parish, Westfield, and Sue Koch, All Saints Parish, Berlin, led the delegation that included Coreen Marklein and Barbara Stanek, Baraboo; Carol Brennan and Bernadette Krentz, Berlin; Rosa Ropers, Waunakee; Linda Ripp, Martinsville; Alice Paul, Whitewater; Mona Matijevich, Packwaukee; and Mary Stasek, Green Lake.

“We are all re-energized to live out the NCCW mission statement: ‘To Support, Empower, and Educate all Catholic Women in Spirituality, Leadership, and Service,’” said Martin and Koch.

Focus on mercy

In convening the convention, NCCW President Sheila Hopkins welcomed women from around the United States “to pray, learn, and share ideas,” focusing almost exclusively on the mercy theme to coincide with the Holy Year of Mercy.

The opening Mass was celebrated on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Archbishop (now Cardinal) Joseph W. Tobin, principal celebrant, emphasized Mary’s key role in Divine Mercy, and praised the convention’s timely theme of “Catholic Women: Instruments of Mercy.”

Archbishop Tobin told the convention attendees that when Pope Francis introduced the Year of Mercy, he called Mary the “Mother of Mercy.” He said that she will help us rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness, for her entire life was patterned after the great presence of mercy made flesh within her.”

The Indianapolis archbishop reminded the women, “My sisters and brothers, at the foot of the cross, Mary, together with John, who was the disciple of love, witnessed the words of forgiveness that were spoken by Jesus.

“This supreme expression of mercy toward those who crucified him show us the point to which the mercy of God can reach. Mary is witness that the mercy of the Son of God knows no bounds and extends to everyone without exception. Because of her, we come to know Jesus, our savior . . . the face of the Father’s mercy.”

Throughout the four-day convention, the workshops, presentations, and numerous opportunities for prayer focused on the theme of mercy.

Works of Mercy

The NCCW, celebrating its 96th year, placed renewed focus on the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy during the jubilee year. Specifically, the organization challenged its members to count such individual acts and reach a collective goal of one million Works of Mercy by the end of the Year of Mercy on November 20.

That challenge extended to the annual service project associated with the convention. Organizers in the host city selected Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis to receive donations of new clothing items -- particularly underwear and socks -- brought by the women for their project, “Under the Clothes and Over the Toes.” The shelter is dedicated to families.

Vote on resolutions

Delegates voted on resolutions concerning human trafficking, children in abusive situations, immigration, and ensuring the future of NCCW.

The NCCW has been a strong advocate against human trafficking, and its resolution calls for continued support of victims with prayer and ministry.

Its immigrant resolution supports the pastoral statements and guidelines of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, promoting awareness of Catholic social teaching on immigration reinforcing “our moral obligation to treat the stranger as we would treat Christ Himself.”

On children, the delegates resolved that NCCW members work “to eliminate all forms of abuse involving children,” partnering with Catholic Charities offices or other social service agencies to educate themselves on the needs of children and support or initiate programs to help families in abusive situations.

Future of NCCW

Looking to sustaining the organization’s future, the NCCW will develop a complete plan to be used by those wishing to start or incorporate a high school or college age group into the NCCW structure.

The U.S. bishops created the organization in 1920 to give women a unified voice, a program of service, and a vehicle for collaboration. The NCCW has aimed to support, empower, and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership, and service so that they may respond with Gospel values to the needs of the Church and society in the modern world.

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