By Wynn Touney
“Be the Voice of Catholic Women, Sowers of Hope” theme of the 2015 annual convention of the National Council of Catholic Women held in September continues to receive feedback.
Robin Corzilius, diocesan president, shared her reflection of the keynote address by Marybeth Hicks, Catholic Digest monthly contributor of “Teachable Moments,” featured on EWTN and Relevant Radio. Hick’s topic was “Make the Connection – Five Strategies to Build a Stronger Community of Catholic Women.”
Corzilius stated, “I was very impressed with her insights and there is a lot of material here for us to focus on and use.”
From Marybeth’s talk, Robin gleaned the following:
“The National Council of Catholic Women was founded and continued to thrive at a time when the power of Catholic women was a force to be harnessed and directed toward the goals of our bishops. (And if you think those guys didn’t understand the real potential of the NCCW, you’ve never been to a cocktail party of bishops. I have!)
“Back in 1920, the USCCB knew that women, joined together as sisters in faith with a common purpose could be encouraged, educated and trained to lead the laity and provide the coherent response of the church’s army of ‘Marthas’ and ‘Marys.’
“Today, your potential member doesn’t know that she has the power to join with other women and provide a Catholic response to the issues facing our culture. She can’t imagine that she would help win back the culture for God, because she struggles herself to really know the Lord. She can’t help fight the culture because she’s one of its victims.
“And while you need her to help with the good and worthy projects you are undertaking in your CCW chapters and as a national and international organization, I assert to you today that she needs you more, to help her find her way back to the church and into a real relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Hicks went on to say that we need to focus on how to provide support to women, rather than asking them to support us (CCW).
“There are many women sitting in the pews beside us who are on fire for the Lord but who have no idea that the CCW is an avenue for them to live out their faith,” she said. “We need to know who today’s women is before we can make a plan to inspire them to become members or at least attendees of our events.
Hicks asked those present to consider adding a word to the CCW Mission Statement: to “evangelize,” support, educate and empower all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service.
“I have always thought to educate is evangelizing but maybe we need to look at that,” Corzillius said. “We gave all the active priests in the diocese a copy of the NCCW manual on evangelization. As a board we need to read and work on this also.”
Michele Leiting, diocesan leadership commissioner, noted that the NCCW convention speakers emphasized important issues including support and prayers for Pope Francis, all bishops and priests and religious liberty for all.
Leiting attended the session on “Women Healing the Wounds.” Using two skits with the same message but with different scenarios, the presenters showed the steps and stages where one can become so victimized by words and deeds that they soon lose confidence in themselves. They then may become helpless to change.
Those skits made Leiting aware of how hurt and loss of confidence in a person can cause economic hardships along with physical and mental problems.
“We need to expand on this area in our diocese,” she said.
As an attendee, Leiting emphasized that the rewarding aspect of the convention was to meet other women, priests and bishops of other dioceses while renewing friendships, exchanging ideas and discussing successful diocesan programs.
Wynn Touney of Fort Dodge is a member of Catholic Women of the Diocese of Sioux City.