Local News Archive
Print Issue: October 3, 2002
Catholic Women Meet To Strengthen Service In The Archdiocese
By Priscilla Greear, Staff Writer
MARIETTA - Bringing women together to support each other in answering their calls from God, the 46th annual convention of the Atlanta Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women was held Sept 13-15.
The theme of the convention was "Woman by Woman: Answering His Call." Women from across the archdiocese as well as in the Atlanta Province attended the convention held at the Hilton Atlanta Northwest for faith, fellowship and friendship.
Archbishop John F. Donoghue celebrated a closing Mass for the group. Father Paul Berny, AACCW spiritual moderator, and Father Kevin Hargaden, son of AACCW president, Mary Hargaden, concelebrated.
In his homily, the archbishop praised the contribution of women to the church.
"As I look back upon 40 plus years of being a priest, and especially as I think of the 20 years since I became a bishop, it is very clear to me, that the great healers, the great reconcilers of the Church have been and mostly are, women," he said.
The archbishop paused and laughed along with the women after telling them that men, too, have their place in the church.
"And God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has been for the most part clear in defining the roles he has designed and appointed for us to fill."
However, he said, it is women who hold the church together.
"But when we look at the fabric of the Church, when we look at its weave in detail, when we search for the stitching which binds it strongly together, and at the same time, permits the design of God, etched upon its surface to appear, clear and visible, I believe that women are to be found at every critical juncture, working to hold the design together, working to make the parts function smoothly, working for oneness which is our unity in the Holy Spirit," he said.
He thanked the women for their contribution to the Archdiocese of Atlanta, which he said "cannot be overestimated . . . though it may seem at times that our gratitude is not often enough articulated, or fervently enough expressed."
"But above all today, with the prayer of this Mass, I wish you to know, that we are thankful for your leadership, for your faithfulness, for your untiring devotion - to all that is good in the Church, and to all that brings about the promise Christ left for His beloved children, 'Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.'"
The Mass was the culmination of the weekend, which featured local speakers, including women Religious and Georgia politicians.
At a breakfast following the Mass, Sister Mary Kay Finneran, SC, coordinator of member services of the Particular Council of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, addressed the women.
In training new members of SVdP, Sister Finneran said she sees firsthand the work of the laity.
"When I was in school, a vocation meant a priest, a brother or a sister," she said, adding that now she sees lay people living their vocation.
"What's so exciting is that you, the laity, are now being acknowledged and affirmed for your vocation," she said.
She then took two of the joyful mysteries of the rosary - the Visitation and the Annunciation - and related them to the women.
In much the same way as Mary received the message that she was to bear Christ, Catholics receive Jesus in a unique way during Mass.
"Each one of us as we receive Eucharist this morning received the body and blood of Jesus Christ and now are asked to go out and be the body of Christ to the world," she said. "The world desperately needs the body of Christ."
The Visitation, when Elizabeth welcomes Mary and proclaims her blessedness and role in salvation history, can be lived each day if women affirm each other, Sister Finneran said.
"When women come together and share stories and faith, wonderful, wonderful things happen," she said. "We need to be models and encourage the next generation and the generations after that. Continue to 'Elizabeth' each other - recognize the divine and acknowledge the blessedness."
Norma Matthews and Erma Miller, parishioners of Holy Cross Church, Atlanta, have been coming to the conventions for several years.
"We want to get information for our own group," Matthews said. "It gives us the strength to go on next year."
Miller said she's been coming to the conventions for as long as she can remember and feels she, too, appreciates the support of fellow AACCW members.
"It's essential to have the courage to go out and (minister)," she said. "That's what I get from the conventions."
Mae Barron, president of the South Deanery of the AACCW and a parishioner at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Decatur, said she looks forward to the convention every year.
"I get a lot out of it. It's my weekend to get away from everything . . . There are wonderful speakers and you get to meet new people and catch up with old friends," she said. "I get a serenity and I feel so good about myself here. It's a weekend when I feel nearer to God."
The AACCW is open to all Catholic women 18 and older, and Barron hopes more will become a part of the group, whose primary focus is serving others.
"You feel so good about yourself when you see someone smile because of something you did," she said. "(AACCW) brings all women together. It's something wonderful to share experiences of faith, joy and sadness."