By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
The focus of this year’s convention was to explore the richness and beauty of the Catholic Church. There were close to 50 attendees at the convention.
The first night there was a soup supper followed by a business meeting, which included the bylaws, process for the new officers and changes to be made.
“We went over our job descriptions. We went through the bylaws and voted on them,” said Ellen Streit, outgoing president and a parishioner at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in West Bend. “Everyone seemed to be pleased with the few changes that we made. We thought it was an improvement.”
The decision was made to change the name from Diocesan Council of Catholic Women to Catholic Women of the Diocese of Sioux City. The hope is that all women feel like they are part of the organization.
The National Evangelization Team (NET) led the second day of the event. NET Ministries have been around for 30 years and they have trained teams of young adults who travel across the country challenging Catholic youth to explore their faith and learn to love God.
This particular NET Ministries team happened to be traveling in the area during the convention date and they didn’t have anything scheduled for April 21.
The title of NET’s program was “Why Catholic?” Such topics as Apostolic Succession, the power of the sacraments, a moral life and prayer were discussed. It consisted of skits, songs, talks, personal testimonies and small group discussions.
Teresa Kostohris, a member of the NET team, talked to the women about Catholicism, ways to get to heaven, believing in and knowing Jesus, the apostles, the Eucharist, reconciliation, prayer and listening to God.
“In the Catholic Church we have the fullest form of all the sacraments,” she said. “The Eucharist is a gift that we have in the Catholic Church. I know sometimes I take it for granted. If we stop and think about it, our God humbled himself so much to come down in the form of bread and wine, in a form that we can see and receive him.”
Kostohris said that prayer is being in a relationship with God.
“He has lots of grace to give us in our lives. The way we ask for it and receive it is through prayer,” she said. “There is no right or wrong way to pray. I really encourage you to take the next step in your prayer life. There is always a deeper level that we can go in relationship with the Lord.”
NET team members, Brandon Hall and Rachel Staley, gave personal testimonies from their lives about being Catholic and coming to know Jesus.
In the afternoon, Lucy Jackson, also a NET team member, talked about the journey of being a woman of God.
Jackson said that God made women beautiful, loved and worthy.
“God sees you deep down in your heart of hearts. He knows all,” she said. “Our beauty is not determined by how we look in the mirror. Our body and souls are a gift from God.”
Streit said she was impressed with the youth of the NET team.
“Even with their struggles, they had to turn to the Lord,” she said. “Us grandmas have been through all of that and understood where they were coming from. We still struggle but not as much as we used to.”
She could see how NET Ministries is good for the junior high and high school students that they generally interact with.
“They did a good job,” said Streit. “They set very good examples. We appreciate the youth and we will be praying for them to continue their good work. They have a really positive attitude.”
The day concluded with Mass celebrated by Father Jim Tigges, spiritual advisor.
The new officers were installed during the Mass. Each was presented with a rose and the name of a saint to be their patroness throughout their time as an officer. Father Tigges also described their role as an officer.
“Our symbol for this installation ceremony is the rose which reflects strength, beauty and love,” said Father Tigges. “As we begin a new year for the Catholic Women of the Diocese of Sioux City, let us all be aware of the strength and power of love. Let us pray to be guided by the love symbolized by the rose.”
The Our Lady of Good Counsel Award was presented to Wynn Touney, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Parish in Fort Dodge.
Growing as Catholic women
Anne Studer, a parishioner from St. Joseph Parish in Wesley, attended the convention because it was on a weekend and that enabled her to do so. She is the representative from her parish.
“I used to be more involved in CCW,” she said. “My mother was very active in Minnesota. I think it is a great organization. They have a lot of good commissions and a lot of good things going on.”
Studer enjoyed that the day with the NET team was a retreat.
“They had a lot of good experiences that they passed on,” she said. “Every time you talk about God and let yourself get involved, you become more Christian. It helps you and the whole communion of saints when we get together and pray for each other and the betterment of mankind.”
Newly elected secretary, Jean Ehrp, a parishioner at St. Joseph Parish in Le Mars, wanted to attend the convention “to grow as a Catholic woman and to be with other Catholic women to learn about my faith.”
By sharing her faith stories and listening to other women’s stories, Ehrp said her faith was strengthened.
“I learned new approaches of what techniques other parishes use,” she said. “Experiencing the NET experience was excellent.”
Throughout the day, attendees participated in a silent auction. They also viewed information boards on Trinity Heights, Carmelites, promotion for Mary's Choice in Sioux City and more.
The 14 members of the diocesan board planned and executed the day. Streit said they did a wonderful job.
Newly elected officers
President – Mary Ann Ruether, St. Joseph Parish in Le Mars
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