Priest urges Catholic Daughters to be living signs of an active faith
By Lisa Maxson
OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) -- "Would I know from walking in the elevator with you or sitting next to you in a restaurant that you're in love with your Roman Catholic faith?"
That was a question Father Jim Sichko, pastor of St. Mark Parish in Richmond, Ky., asked more than 1,000 women in his speech opening the July 18-21 Catholic Daughters of the Americas' 54th Biennial National Convention in Omaha.
"Would I know that you're a devoted member of not only our faith, but women of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas?" said Father Sichko, chaplain of the Catholic Daughters Court St. Anne No. 2568 in Lexington, Ky.
As a boy growing up in Orange, Texas, the priest said, he met members of the Catholic Daughters who were "good and holy women" -- living signs of an active faith.
He encouraged those at the conference to be similar role models.
To live as a model Catholic Daughter, one must be rooted in God's grace, love and faith, show gratitude and stay focused on Jesus and the Eucharist, he said. Catholic Daughters should share the message of Jesus with enthusiasm, be willing to do difficult things at the service of others and the church and not depend on others' approval, he said.
"It's about reaching out, believing and trusting. It's allowing that energy and love of Christ to go forth," Father Sichko said. "People want the truth. If you're going to call yourself a Catholic, be Catholic. If you're going to call yourself a Catholic Daughter, be a Catholic Daughter. Rejoice in it and be happy about it and love it."
Father Sichko, a former Broadway performer, ended his talk by singing "Only in God," by John Michael Talbot, reminding the women that living a fully Catholic life is difficult, but God is with them.
"No matter what, our God is with us and loves us," he said.
On July 19, National Regent Joanne Tomassi, of St. Pete Beach, Fla., introduced this year's Catholic Woman of the Year -- Sister Rosemary Connelly, executive director of Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago. Misericordia is a residence and community for more than 500 children and adults with mild to profound developmental disabilities.
The award honored Sister Rosemary for "bringing the light of Christ to others" and included a $5,000 check for Misericordia.
During the convention, Tomassi also announced other monetary awards from the Catholic Daughters: Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton, Mass., $30,000; the Pontifical North American College in Rome, $17,000; Catholic Relief Services, $8,000; Support Our Aging Religious, or SOAR, $9,000; Covenant House, $6,000; Missionaries of Charity, $12,000; Tutwiler Clinic in Mississippi, $12,000; Smile Train, $51,000; and the Laboure Society, which fosters priestly and religious vocations through student-loan resolution, $2,900.
He used sociological research to support his belief that the marriage relationship founded on the love of God is key to a healthy society and successful economy. Chastity, he said, is the foundational virtue of all of society. He concluded, "I think your grandchildren are calling on you to grow the intact young family that will worship God weekly."
In one resolution passed at the convention, the Catholic Daughters took aim at human trafficking and agreed to adopt a campaign to promote the purchase of fair-trade items and asked members who can do so to download to their smartphones the Free2Work app, which can scan an item and tell if it was made by slave labor.
"Human-trafficking and slave labor is rampant throughout the world," including in the United States, the resolution said, adding that products sold in the U.S. are often made in factories where women, children and some men "are forced to work long hours for little or no pay."
"The power of the consumer will make a strong impact on these practices," it said, adding that members were urged to contact their elected officials to enact laws that prohibit using women and children as "objects of the economy rather than subjects of the economy."
Catholic Daughters also approved a resolution calling for prayers for the canonization cause of Father Stanley F. Rother, a priest of the Oklahoma City Archdiocese who was brutally murdered in 1981 in the Guatemalan village where he ministered to the poor.
He was "martyred ... for his extraordinary and courageous defense" of his faith, the resolution said, and he "displayed the virtues of unity and charity while teaching, working with and ministering" among the villagers.
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