By Celine Klosterman
Women need to “put their foot forward” to have a voice in the church, says Rose Marie Ruth.
The secretary of the Davenport Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DDCCW) and about 80 other active members have been working to do so through new charitable projects and other activities.
They’re wrapping up a multi-parish chocolate sale to benefit Madagascar; have donated to Hope and Healing Ministries, which works to help people suffering after an abortion or sexual abuse; and are exploring ways to provide academic assistance to women in the diocese.
Such projects are part of a history of outreach for the DDCCW, begun in the 1920s to “support, empower and educate” Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service. Past projects have included a shelter house ministry and a Share the Care program designed to support people with serious illnesses.
But in recent years, members have begun focusing more on exchanging ideas and information on parish life with different parishes, about 30 of which have active DDCCW members, said Mary Helen Seemuth, treasurer and member for six months. Catherine Hurley, president since April, says her ultimate goal would be to have active representatives from each of the diocese’s 81 parishes.
The DDCCW also has joined with the other three Iowa councils for “Catholics at the Capitol,” an annual daylong event featuring opportunities to meet with state legislators. Legislation, church, family, community, international and organizational concerns are the six emphases of the National Council of Catholic Women.
“It’s hard to disengage from an organization that has the same goals you do as a Catholic woman,” said Hurley.
She hopes the council enriches people’s faith and can “stay relevant” for modern, working mothers and other women.
“Young mothers and wives today need a lot of support,” she said, suggesting technology makes it easier for pressures outside the home to influence children. Among those whom DDCCW has reached out to are mothers in prison, providing supplies including tapes for inmates to record talks for their children.
For Hurley, DDCCW has provided female “mentors” she sought after moving to Iowa from Denver a few years ago.
“In addition to doing good works, we’ve broadened our friendships a great deal,” says Ruth, a former DDCCW president and member for about 12 years.
“I’m enjoying meeting interesting people from other parishes,” says Seemuth.
Adds Hurley, “It’s a great organization where any Catholic woman, young or old, can benefit from the support of our national council and from the person-to-person contact with extraordinary women from across the diocese.”