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Diocesan Women Hold Convention; Elect New Officers
Following our Shepherds was the theme of the 38th annual convention of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW) held May 19. The event brought 200 women from across the diocese to St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord. The convention opened with prayer led by June Duby and the Presentation of the Colors by the Daughters of Isabella #975 from Alpena. Kathleen Melville-Hall served as the Mistress of Ceremonies and introduced DCCW President Diane Blevins who then welcomed the women, current officers, past presidents and special guests in attendance. David Martin, President and CEO of Catholic Human Services (CHS), was invited to provide an update regarding the agency. Through an interactive quiz, Martin explained the agency currently has 22 offices in the Diocese of Gaylord with at least one office in 19 of the 21 counties of the diocese. Last year, CHS served over 47,000 people through their counseling, prevention, child welfare, employee assistance and older adult resources programs. The agency provides services to persons of all faiths and provides sliding fee scales so that those of all incomes may receive services. Gifts from the annual diocesan Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) are particularly used to help subsidize family services. In fact, CHS receives the largest single grant from CSA, amounting to 11 percent of the total diocesan CSA budget. Karen Derris, the new Director of Guest Services at the Augustine Center, also briefly spoke thanking the ladies for their past support and invited them to upcoming retreats. Fr. Wayne Dziekan, director of the Secretariat for Justice and Peace, was the keynote speaker for the day. Using the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching drawn from Church documents over time and first written about in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII, Fr. Wayne encouraged the women to apply their faith in the civic arena. He also cautioned the women about solely using media reports to inform themselves regarding current issues. Fr. Wayne noted, If we consider ourselves Catholic and are sincere about applying our faith to the world around us, then that places an obligation upon us to see, Well, what is the Church saying on this topic or that topic? He discussed each of the seven themes briefly and then discussed some of the current hot button issues such as the recent Arizona Immigration legislation, solidarity, fair trade, and the economy. Fr. Wayne also provided several hand-outs and resources to assist the women in learning more about Catholic positions on a variety of issues and invited them to join the Justice and Peace mailing list through the diocese. Fr. Francis Murphy, who has served as Chaplain to the DCCW for some 31 years, was also warmly welcomed by the women and he spoke briefly thanking them for their ongoing devotion and service to the Church. Bishop Bernard Hebda joined the women for lunch and then took the podium. He noted many of the faces in the group were faces he had seen before in his travels in the diocese for parish events and the recent Holy Hours held in the vicariates. He applauded their faithfulness and thanked them for their service. How wonderful it is that you, as the women of this diocese, commit yourselves to prayer and service to living out your commitment as baptized Catholic Christians, Bishop Hebda stated. He explained that it is the example of the women living out their faith in their families, parishes and communities, that is so important in teaching children and the younger generation about the faith. Your life of prayer and service you need both of those thats whats going to attract our younger women and younger families to our parishes, Bishop Hebda said. You, who are the bearers of tradition, are able to give life to those cells, to those groups, to that community, so that a life of prayer and service is seen as something thats important. Bishop Hebda also offered an open forum for the women to ask questions on any topic. He listened carefully to concerns and questions which included the age of Confirmation, revisions to the Roman Missal, postures at Mass, placement of the Tablernacle, struggles faced by students and families, and Adoration. His responses often were met with applause from those gathered. The Bishop added that in todays economy, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to participate in some of the Church programs particularly offered for youth. He asked the women to consider ways they might be able to assist young people to participate in what are known to be some of the life-changing Church events for youth, such as the Christian Leadership Institute and World Youth Day. Imagine if each of our womens groups could help to sponsor one young person to enable them participate in CLI, the Bishop dreamed. The annual business meeting followed, which included adoption of a number of changes to bylaws and resolutions. Elections of new officers also took place this year and outgoing president Diane Blevins was thanked for her years of service and presented a gift. The women then gathered in St. Mary Cathedral for a Eucharistic Liturgy. Bishop Hebda presided and Fr. Francis Murphy and Fr. Patrick Maher concelebrated with him. At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Hebda installed the new officers for the Gaylord Diocesan Council of Catholic Women: Kathleen Melville-Hall, President; Angie Yarch, 1st Vice President; Marcia Albosta, 2nd Vice President; Lorraine Aurand, Secretary; Gloria White, Treasurer. The Gaylord DCCW is part of the National Council of Catholic Women and seeks to support, empower and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service and to respond with Gospel values to the needs of the Church and society in the modern world. For upcoming workshops and events, please visit the Gaylord DCCW website.