At 26, Natasha Cramer is — in a sea of gray heads — obviously the youngest member at this year’s Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women conference.
The ACCW gathering draws a veteran crowd, and leaders of the organization like president Rose Anne Hallgren are aware that it could use more young women to be involved.
“That’s why we put Natasha to work as our communications vice chair,” Hallgren told The Catholic Spirit. “We need to reach out to younger Catholic women.”
Although she’s only been an ACCW member for three years, Cramer is well-versed in the history and accomplishments of those veteran members. During a break in the ACCW’s 80th Biennial Conference May 3 in Minneapolis, she spoke with admiration for the work older members do and have done in charitable initiatives, spirituality, the pro-life cause and especially issues of civic policy.
“The ACCW has always been active moving petitions for worthy causes, encouraging the March for Life, taking a uniform stand on issues important to Catholic women,” Cramer said. “The Legislation Commission in particular often brings petitions and awareness of issues from the Capitol to us.”
Cramer served as cantor at the ACCW’s anniversary Mass that kicked off the 2012 conference. She’s a trained auto mechanic, but with the clear, strong voice she showed at that Mass, she admits cantoring is a gift she wants to develop.
Her volunteer role, as she sees it, is to help the ACCW use modern communication methods to share its messages.
“They put me on the publicity and communications so we can get more on the Internet,” she said.
“We want to start opening up a bit and making what the ACCW is and does more known and available to people who have a value in web communications.”
As she’s helping the organization set up a Facebook profile, Cramer understands the cultural and demographic challenges the ACCW faces with many younger women working. But she doesn’t see the organization as desperate.
“We’re trying to create an environment where younger people can join and feel welcome,” she said. “I’m hoping we can communicate and run events that will create a natural attraction for younger Catholic women because they support what we believe.”
What younger adults seek
Cramer and her husband Josh are members of St. Austin in north Minneapolis, but they are involved in the young adult group at the Basilica of St. Mary, too.
What she’s observed with her peers is that what interests them are opportunities to mix pleasure with activities and activism.
“Young adults have a lot of energy and they like to talk about their faith,” she added. “They like discussions where their voice can be heard — and socializing.”
When it comes to communications, young people are into being constantly in contact.
For the ACCW, that means posting everything online, and making it possible for events, activities and information to be accessible by phone, “centralizing information and getting more symbiotic” in how the organization communicates, Cramer said.