The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 20, 2001 Issue
Local News

Diocesan women to meet

Council of Catholic Women has helped others since founding in 1924

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

DCCW to convene

What: DCCW Convention

When: Saturday, April 28

Where: St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay

Details: Featured speakers will be Sr. Mary Jo Kirt, OSF, and Fr. Dave Pleier. Bp. Robert Banks will preside at an 11 a.m. Liturgy where new officers will be installed.

Cost: $14, includes continental breakfast, luncheon, speakers and all materials.

In 1924, Bp. Paul Rhode, the sixth bishop of Green Bay, invited a group of women from the diocese to meet with him in hopes that they would unite to form a diocesan-wide women's organization.

The women soon held a meeting at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay, and the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW) was born. The women will gather again April 25 at St. Bernard Church, Green Bay, for their biannual convention.

Today, Councils of Catholic Women exist at the parish, vicariate, diocesan and national levels, and two women from the diocese hold national offices. The goal at all levels is to serve those in need. The women take on service projects in the areas of church, family, international, community, legislation and organization.

"From National we get information on what projects and activities they can do in each area," said Delores Skarban a former DCCW president from St. Anthony Parish, Oconto Falls. "It is our hope that they would pick one project from each of the six commissions."

The information from the National Council of Catholic Women is designed to serve as a guide for the other levels. The Parish Council of Catholic Women, for example, may adapt an idea from the National Council.

"They can pick and choose what fits their parish and their locality," said Mary Ann Berger, a former DCCW president from St. John the Baptist Parish, Howard.

The DCCW has launched several successful service projects to benefit those in need locally and worldwide. Advocacy to women is a target area of concern for the organization. The women have collected and donated sweatshirts to the Rainbow House and Golden House.

"We have also donated toothbrushes and toothpaste," said Skarban. "We put together a kit that the women who seek help from these facilities can take home with them. It is nice to help. You feel like you are helping someone who is right here."

The DCCW's Respite Program, which began in 1985, is an example of a successful project helping families in need. Through the program, volunteers are trained by nurses and physical therapists to relieve caregivers.

"The volunteers give a break to those who care for loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Jackie Walker of St. John the Baptist Parish, Howard, who like Skarban and Berger is a former DCCW president. "We have a lot of volunteers. The caregivers really appreciate it."

An example of an international project facilitated by the DCCW is Water for Life. The women raise money to support clear water systems in impoverished areas.

"The funds help to pay for engineers and workers to come into, for example, a mountainous area," explained Skarban. "They will build one water system at the top of the mountain that brings clean water down to many villages."

"Many of the people that join are surprised by all the things we do," she added. "They often say 'I had no idea you did so many different things.'"

The Green Bay DCCW has a national presence. Berger serves as the NCCW legislative chair. Skarban is the Milwaukee Province Director, serving the five dioceses in the state of Wisconsin. Both women will attend national meetings in Washington, DC, in June. In 1993, the Green Bay DCCW was honored nationally for its project "The Earth in Our Hands, " a program that promoted conservation.

"The national conventions and meetings are wonderful," said Skarban. "I enjoy the sharing of ideas. I haven't met one person who has not returned from a national convention or assembly excited and refreshed."

The DCCW is always looking for new members. Nine of the 12 vicariates of the diocese are active.

"I would like to see Vicariate VI (Waupaca and Waushara counties) revitalized, and more participation throughout the diocese," said Berger. "It's rewarding to help other people and it's a feeling of togetherness with a Catholic teaching in mind. I enjoy the spirituality."

For more information on the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, contact Delores Skarban at (920)846-3743 or Mary Ann Berger at (920)434-2745.

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