Women gather for 65th convention Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Jane Lepeska Grinde, Catholic Herald Correspondent   
Thursday, Jun. 27, 2019 -- 12:00 AM
mdccw convention
Msgr. Duane Moellenberndt, Sun Prairie, spiritual advisor of the Madison Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (MDCCW), blesses the council’s officers at the recent convention held at St. Cecilia Parish in Wisconsin Dells. From left are: Judy Lyons, president elect, Jefferson; Bernadette Schaefer, president, Lancaster; Katy Crosby, treasurer, Lancaster; and Linda Ripp, Martinsville, secretary. Monsignor Moellenberndt installed Crosby to a two-term as treasurer. The treasurer is elected in odd-numbered years. The other officers are in the middle of their two-year terms. (Photo by Jane Lepeska Grinde)

WISCONSIN DELLS -- “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad,” said Bernadette Schaefer, president of the Madison Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (MDCCW), as she opened the 65th annual MDCCW convention earlier this month at St. Cecilia Parish Center here.

Hosted by the Sauk CCW, the one-day convention brought together women from across the diocese as well as guests from the Dioceses of La Crosse and Superior and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Fifty of the 140 attended the MDCCW convention for the first time.

The theme, “United in Prayer, Love, and Faith,” echoed throughout the day, starting with the president’s message and continuing with leadership training, the celebration of Mass, and the main presentation by Msgr. Joseph Diermeier, who asked the women to reflect on the ways they are “perceived by others as a person of prayer and love and who lives the gift of faith.”

‘We are the vine . . .’

During her first year as president, Schaefer traveled throughout the diocese and attended vicariate CCW meetings, learning about the many ways the women serve their parishes through their CCW membership.

While the membership has declined over the years, Schaefer voiced optimism, “My sense is that we are in very good health because of all the wonderful work accomplished by you.”

She encouraged the members to get young women involved in their parish councils and to welcome them to diocesan events and and activities, including volunteering for the bishop’s installation June 25 and the MDCCW- sponsored reception for the priests’ ordination June 28.

Elected at last year’s convention for a two-year term, Schaefer said her presidential theme, “‘He is the vine, we are the branches’ gives the right perspective to all that we do as members of CCW. Staying connected with Jesus assures us we will produce abundant fruit in His vineyard.”

Election of treasurer

During the short business meeting, Schaefer recognized the addition of the Madison Catholic Woman’s Club to MDCCW. Again this year, the two organizations will sponsor a Day of Renewal October 15 at St. Maria Goretti Church, Madison.

Following approval of reports and 2018 convention minutes, the delegates unanimously elected Katy Crosby, St. Clement Parish, Lancaster, as treasurer. She succeeds Kathy Loy, Queen of All Saints Parish, Fennimore, whose term expired.

100th year banner

Showcasing a specially designed banner for the 100th anniversary of the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) in 2020, Schaefer said a big effort will be made to observe the anniversary in the diocese. The banner featuring the image of Mother Mary and Jesus is available for order through the MDCCW board and is made for both indoor or outdoor displays.

Schaefer asked for ideas to “celebrate the 100 years of NCCW service to the Lord and His Church and His people. We want it to be intellectually exciting, spiritually enriching, and a lot of fun.”

As she concluded the business meeting, Schaefer said all are welcome to the MDCCW board meetings, which are usually held at Sacred Hearts Parish in Sun Prairie. The next meeting is July 17.

Leadership training

Past MDCCW President Coreen Marklein, St. Joseph Parish, Baraboo, presented a lively leadership and development training session focusing on communication. She started by asking, “Do you hear what I hear?”

Because individual perceptions vary as well as their contexts, “the message you think you are getting across may be totally different.” She cited research that has been done on what people hear and understand. Generally, Marklein said, after a 10-minute presentation, listeners only remember 50 percent of what was said. The next day, they may remember 24 percent and a week later only 10 percent.

With that in mind, said Marklein, consider how best to communicate. Use stories and analogies that are familiar to the audience. Use plain English and visuals. Be aware of both verbal and nonverbal communication.

“Are you really listening or are you waiting for your turn to talk? Our goal is to hear, and we can only hear if we listen very well. Bring empathy to the conversation. Pay attention to body language and tone of voice.”

She cited the NCCW Rosary call on the 13th of every month as one way for the women to be united in prayer with women from across the United States. “As members of the Council of Catholic Women, we are united in prayer, love, and faith and serve as God’s witness to our faith every day.”

Marklein credited the NCCW leadership training resources as well as training she has received in her job as payroll and benefits coordinator at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health for many of the resources used in her presentation.

Appreciates women

Fr. Jay Poster, pastor of St. Joseph, Baraboo, began Mass, thanking the women for all they do in their parishes. “You are appreciated,” he said.

Concelebrating with him were Msgr. Duane Moellenberndt, Sun Prairie; Fr. Sanctus Ibe, LaValle; Fr. David Wanish, Lake Mills; and Fr. Savio Yerasani, Montello, assisted by Deacon Jim Hoegemeier, Berlin.

Msgr. Duane Moellenberndt, MDCCW spiritual advisor, gave the homily. He reflected on the reading from the Acts of the Apostles and said, “Take to heart the message of Jesus and put it in practice with all the gusto we possess.”

Noting that the early disciples changed the world because they believed and were empowered by the Holy Spirit to do that, he said, “We are to do the same. That is the reason the council exists. Share the good news not in a timid way but in a certitude that we know.”

Despite the dark times in the Church, Monsignor Moellenberndt said, “Our faith has much to offer. Let us own our mistakes, but establish procedures to overcome them. Let us celebrate with all our hearts all the tremendous good in the world and our individual lives.”

Gifts of prayer, love, faith

Following Mass and lunch, Monsignor Diermeier addressed the women. He said, “Prayer is a gift we can offer to God; faith is a gift we receive; and love is both received and given away; and all are badly needed in today’s world.

“Some people say prayer doesn’t do anything -- no practical value,” but, said the priest, “We can respond by saying that when we are united in prayer, we gain strength and acknowledge God’s blessing in good and bad.”

One of the vicars general of the Diocese of La Crosse, Monsignor Diermeier compared prayer to a good marriage, “Spouses are united in good and bad, . . . (and) the existence of love provides strength.”

As for faith, Monsignor Diermeier said, it is “not childish to have faith in God, but with a child-like faith we can move mountains.”

A priest for 39 years, Monsignor Diermeier is pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Marathon, and the author of two books: Immersed in the Water of Life (2010) and Covenant Rhymes and Reasons (2017).

NCCW leader

Jean Kelly, NCCW president-elect and soon to be the first national CCW president from Wisconsin, opened her remarks with, “You are so lucky that you are getting Bishop Hying.” Kelly, from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee where Bishop Hying grew up, said, “We loved him as a priest and bishop.”

Kelly will be installed as president in August at the convention in Atlanta. As president-elect, she chairs the national convention which has the theme “Caring for God’s Creation.”

Milwaukee Province Director Carol Brennan, who serves on the national CCW board representing all five Wisconsin archdiocesan/diocesan CCWs, thanked Kelly for having the “courage and generosity to take on the leadership position. It is a big time commitment.”

Brennan said, “Our organization focuses on spirituality, service, and leadership.” NCCW offers resources in each of these areas with special attention to stopping human trafficking, caring for God’s creation through good stewardship, and passing on the faith to the next generation.

Gratitude, recognition

Brennan thanked the women for coming to be “united in prayer, love, faith, and fun. Actions speak louder than words. Your life is like a sermon. Go and live your faith.”

As part of its annual convention, MDCCW gives a Madonna statue to the youngest, first-time attendee. Brennan presented the award to Gail Olson from Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Green Lake.

“Next, a star award,” said Brennan. Brennan announced Rita Marklein as the awardee for her long-time service. Married 66 years to Phil and the mother of five daughters, grandmother of four, and great-grandmother of three, Marklein has long been active at St. John Parish, Spring Green, including starting the first funfest.

“Rita is wonderful example of a faith-filled lady and always has a smile on her fact. Because of her example, she has daughters active in church.” Twins Kathy Loy and Coreen Marklein are long-time members of the MDCCW board, and Karen Marklein is principal of Sacred Heart School, Reedsburg.

A final tribute went to Coreen Marklein, who co-chaired the convention with Ellen Dargel, Sauk Vicariate CCW president.

The convention service project was the Women’s Care Center, Madison, for which attendees brought items for mothers and babies and contributed money during the Mass. Silent auction proceeds will go to other charities.

Next year’s convention, celebrating the 100th year of the National CCW, will be hosted by the West Dane Vicariate.

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