By Barb Arland-Fye
If you’re a Catholic woman who cares about supporting, empowering and educating Catholic women, plan to attend the Davenport Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s annual meeting April 15 at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City.
“Women of Faith, Women of Action,” is the theme of the event, scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for $15 per person and featuring:
• Mass with Bishop Martin Amos
• Tours of St. Patrick’s new church
• Installation of officers
• Guest speakers Sister Marie Vitteoe, CHM, and Father Ed Fitzpatrick, director of the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City.
• Awarding of two scholarships and Woman of the Year.
• Lunch — a vegetarian pasta and salad.
• Irish entertainment and a visit from St. Patrick.
This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the parent organization, the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW). Organizers of the diocesan event will serve Irish Crème cake to celebrate. Later this year, the diocesan organization (DDCCW) also will host a women’s retreat, said President Catherine Hurley, who is a member of St. Patrick’s parish.
The NCCW formed in 1920 “at the urging of the Catholic bishops in the country. They wanted Catholic women to have a voice and an avenue to meet needs,” Hurley said. At both the national and diocesan level, the focus today is on spirituality, leadership and service. “This is a transitional time for the organization, with a lot more focus on spirituality,” Hurley observed.
The DDCCW’s commitment to service is the reason it selected Sr. Vittetoe as the main speaker for the annual meeting. She has lived and worked in Haiti off and on for 25 years and is a laboratory consultant to Hopital Sacre Coeur in Milot. In a recent e-mail to friends, relatives and colleagues, Sr. Vittetoe said the hospital is working feverishly to help the wounded. More health care workers are needed, “and most of all prayers for continuing recovery of those so wounded in the quake and still a great need for financial donations to keep all these activities going.”
Hurley said, “We thought we could get some of the women attending the annual meeting involved in the needs of Haiti. It’s important to understand the needs of that country even before a natural disaster struck.”
The annual meeting also is an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to education. The DCCWW will award two, $2,500 scholarships — one to St. Ambrose University in Davenport and the other to the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City. The recipients must be Catholic women; preference will be given to women with a family member who is or has been active in DDCCW, Hurley said.
Rose Marie Ruth, the DDCCW’s secretary, said the organization “brings you together with other Catholic women who have interests and concerns similar to your own.” She got involved in the group about 12 years ago when a friend invited her to attend an annual meeting.
Carol Kaalberg, parish life administrator for St. Mary parishes in Lone Tree and Nichols, has been a member of DDCCW for about 30 years and has served as its moderator for about three years. She describes herself as the group’s spiritual director, providing spiritual words of wisdom to help maintain the spiritual aspect of the gatherings.
“It’s an organization of faith-filled women united for the common good of one another and to build the Kingdom by all the various projects they do,” Kaalberg said. “It’s a privilege to be a member.”
For more information about the annual meeting or DDCCW, call (319) 338-2716 or (319) 337-3850.