As people across the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis participate in the Rediscover: initiative, Lucy Johnson wants to help members of the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women also to rediscover the value of the ACCW.
Johnson was installed as president during the organization’s 81st annual convention at Guardian Angels in Oakdale May 1 and 2. She will serve until 2015.
The theme of the convention was, “Be the Voice of Catholic Women.”
“We can and we need to be a voice of Catholic women addressing the issues of society today,” Johnson said. “We need to reach out across deaneries, across the archdiocese and connect with one another to nurture, educate and support.”
Johnson would like to revitalize the organization at the grassroots level, she said.
“Council of Catholic Women used to be a social outlet for people to come together,” she said. “What the council was before is not the need right now, but there is definitely a need.”
Johnson cited the four steps to evangelization promoted by Matthew Kelly, author of the book “Rediscover Catholicism” and founder of The Dynamic Catholic Institute. They are nurture friendships, pray for each other, tell your story, and invite others to join.
To incorporate the first two steps — friendship and prayer — the ACCW announced a new program during the convention called the Naomi-Ruth Prayer Partnership Program. Participants sign up for a prayer partner and the only requirement is that they pray for each other. The program will begin on ACCW Sunday in October.
She also encouraged those in attendance to tell their stories to others they know and invite those women to participate in the organization.
“The Catholic Church is universal and it is through CCW that we can be connected to the world,” she said. “When you are a member of your parish chapter, you are a member of the World Union of Catholic Womens Organizations. Now that’s a voice.”
The convention offered women a chance to connect with one another and take care of ACCW business, as well as learn from a variety of speakers.
Caroline Brennan, a senior communications officer with Catholic Relief Services, spoke at the Wednesday evening banquet about her experiences visiting with Syrian refugees, mostly women and children, who are victims of an ongoing civil war.
The National Council of Catholic Women has had a partnership with Catholic Relief Services since 1946, and ACCW members help support CRS programs, like the Madonna Plan, which funds health projects for mothers and children.
Other speakers included Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference; Catholic Spirit writer/photographer Dave Hrbacek; Father Tom McQuaid from Catholic Relief Services’ regional office in Chicago; Father Greg Mastey, former vocations director and a priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud; and musician Father Jan Michael Joncas, artist in residence and research fellow in Catholic Studies at the University of St.Thomas.
Election of new officers was held May 1, and two officers were installed May 2. Marcia Simon from St. Dominic in Northfield will serve as second vice president and Cathy Evans, a member of St. Peter in North St. Paul will be the organization’s secretary.
Four women were honored for their outstanding contributions to family, church and the community. Archbishop John Nienstedt presented them with the awards after a Mass May 2.
The winners of the Lay Women Award were Fran Barton, a member of St. John the Evangelist in New Prague; LaVerne Beaudry of St. Albert in Albertville; Margaret Dillon of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center and Marlys McNamara of St. Columbkill in Goodhue.