Spirituality, leadership, service are themes of DCCW convention
By Kristi Anderson
For The Visitor
The Blessed Virgin Mother along with the sainted sisters of Lazarus inspired the theme, “Mary, Mary and Martha: Spirituality, Leadership and Service” for the 58th annual convention of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women held Sept. 17 at St. Michael Church in St. Cloud.
Father Matthew Kuhn, associate pastor of St. Michael’s, delivered the gathering’s keynote address.
“We have much to gain from Mary and Martha, putting aside our business to sit and spend time at the feet of Christ. What better way than what we are all doing here today in front of the Blessed Eucharist,” Father Kuhn said in his address.
More than 140 women were in attendance from all corners of the diocese, including Cheryl Weller of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Elrosa.
“Father Matthew directed his talk toward women,” she said. “It was interesting that he used both Scripture and tradition and opened that up for us with the examples of Mary and Martha and Mary. He gave us choices that we can relate to but without blame, letting us know that God is there for all of us.”
“I hope the women at the convention heard that the women of the Gospels were very much like themselves, and that, just as they did, we can find forgiveness, purpose and joy in our relationship with Jesus Christ as disciples and leaders in the church,” Father Kuhn said.
Mass was celebrated by Bishop John Kinney, with Fathers Matthew Kuhn, Greg Lieser, Laurn Virnig and John Odero concelebrating. A collection was taken to benefit seminarians studying for the Diocese of St. Cloud.
“As the umbrella organization for the many Catholic women’s groups across the diocese, we’d like women to be more aware that opportunities exist within the council,” said newly inducted president Arleen Roelike of Freeport. “All women are invited to attend any DCCW events. If you are a baptized Catholic woman, you are automatically a member by default.
“When I started, I just wanted to be one of the ladies working in the kitchen, behind the scenes,” she added. “By becoming more active, I was able to really develop into a leader that I never thought I’d be.”
The first DCCW convention was held in 1954 in Sauk Centre. Since that time, the diocese’s seven deaneries rotate as hosts. In addition, the group hosts other yearly events, including a spring retreat and a celebration titled “Fun, Food and Fund,” typically held in June.
“The spring retreat is all about spirituality, there is no business done there,” said Roelike. “The Fun, Food and Fund event is an annual fundraiser where we hope women come to have fun and help raise money to support the board members who will be traveling to the national convention, as well as [funds] for the various commissions, social justice issues, and many different charities including Catholic Relief Services and Water for Life.”
The Water for Life program, a partnership between the NCCW and CRS, works to make clean, safe water available to families, which improves their lives and health.
“This council of women is a well kept secret,” Roelike said. “If you want to come out and have a spiritual day, come to a retreat. If you want to learn the business, come to a convention. There really is a place for everyone.”