GREEN BAY — At a Mass celebrating the Green Bay Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 90th anniversary, Bishop David Ricken told approximately 150 women that he was grateful for all of the work they had accomplished over the past nine decades. He also challenged them to continue their role as collaborators in spreading the Gospel and serving the needy.
“The DCCW has lasted for 90 years because there are people like you who go out in this very cold weather at night and are very committed to the church and to the celebration of the sacraments and to the love of the church and the poor,” Bishop Ricken said in his homily Nov. 17 at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.
The Mass began with a procession into church that included representatives of each vicariate carrying banners. Joining Bishop Ricken at the altar were Bishop Emeritus Robert Banks and Fr. Don Everts, DCCW spiritual advisor.
“Our purpose tonight is to thank God for all of your service and those of your predecessors who have been real leaders in the diocese for the past 90 years,” Bishop Ricken said. “Here in the diocese I know this organization has helped start up all kinds of ministries. … I am so grateful to the Lord and to all the bishops and priests who have worked with you through the years to make sure you can make a contribution of love and service of Christ and the church that you want to make.”
Exactly 90 years earlier, on Nov. 17, 1924, Bishop Paul Rhode gathered with 228 parish delegates at the cathedral to announce the formation of the DCCW. Since that time, parish councils of Catholic women, which form the diocesan council, have contributed to many causes that assist youth, the poor, migrants and, most recently, women escaping domestic abuse.
New challenges face the church in the 21st century, said Bishop Ricken, and DCCW is needed to help the church address them.
“So sisters, if you think you’ve reached the year of 90 and there’s nothing much left to do, think again,” said Bishop Ricken. “We need to continue to engage (people) and … we cannot do that without the women of the church leading the way in many ways.”
Bishop Ricken spoke about his six-year plan for the diocese, which is outlined in his letter, “Disciples on the Way.” In it, he said, prayer and formation are the two focus areas for 2014 to 2016. He challenged the women to help promote prayer in their families and in their parishes.
“There is a whole generation that doesn’t know how to pray,” said Bishop Ricken. “Over these next two years, you as the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women can get very engaged in your parishes with helping people to know how to pray, and don’t give up praying for your children to come back to Mass if they have fallen away. Do whatever you can to promote the faith.”
After Communion, Fr. Everts and Paula Friemuth, DCCW president, offered thanks to the council women for their service.
“Tonight you gather from throughout the diocese as women of faith,” said Fr. Everts. “Your combined voices have established a Catholic summer camp and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight domestic violence, to name but a few milestones.”
He said that “one of the greatest parts of the foundation of the Catholic Church … is a strong women’s organization. Why? Because they get things done.”
Friemuth encouraged women who no longer belong to a parish council of Catholic women to renew their membership. She encouraged parishes that no longer have a council to consider re-establishing one.
“Let us be the voice of truth,” she said. “Let us raise our voices together as Catholic women and witness and proclaim to the world for another 90 years the truth of Jesus Christ.”