By JEAN DRISKELL, Special Contributor | Published November 10, 2005
The 49th annual convention of the Atlanta Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (AACCW) was held at St. Joseph Church on Saturday, Oct. 1. The convention, dedicated to Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, was a one-day event as the AACCW had also hosted the national convention of the National Council of Catholic Women in Atlanta in September.
A new slate of officers for the local chapter was installed at the 5:30 p.m. vigil Mass at St. Joseph. The new officers include the president, Mayfern H. Barron, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Decatur; vice president, Joan E. Brown, St. John Vianney Church, Lithia Springs; recording secretary, Mary M. Hargaden, Sacred Heart Church, Milledgeville; and treasurer, Mary Lang, St. Ann Church, Marietta.
The Mass was celebrated by Father Paul Berny, pastor of St. Joseph’s and spiritual moderator for the AACCW, and concelebrated by Father Giles Conwill who was the guest homilist and luncheon speaker.
Barron was pleased with the event, noting that Father Conwill was an inspiring speaker.
“Father Berny was great and very helpful,” she added. “Everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was a good turnout with plenty of new attendees.”
Over 120 people attended the convention.
Brown, the new vice-president, also expressed what “a great day for coming together and sharing our stories, our experiences, especially at the workshop. I’m hoping that the workshop and Father Giles’ great talk on the women in the Bible will inspire more women to get involved.”
Father Conwill, who is an associate professor of history at Morehouse College, Atlanta, gave a talk on the convention’s theme for this year, “Catholic Women, United in Christ, Making a Difference.” He highlighted the prominent women in the Bible who represented their faith in their various circumstances and communities, focusing specifically on Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, as the one who really embodied the theme.
He shared that he “admires Elizabeth so much because she was privileged to be the first one to confess Jesus in the flesh.” This was done when Mary, mother of Jesus, came and visited Elizabeth. “Look at how these two women reflect the beautiful theme for this organization’s annual convention,” he said, pointing out how the greetings of these two also produced the beloved prayers “Hail Mary” and “The Magnificat.”
He also challenged the group by commenting on how women such as Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, St. Monica and Harriett Tubman made a difference in the lives of others. Father Conwill shared his personal story of how his mother, Mary, raised him and his siblings as a single parent after the death of his father. Father Conwill ended his talk by saying that women united in Christ make a “mighty, mighty great combination.”
At the AACCW business meeting, Frank Mulcahy, executive director of the Georgia Catholic Conference, which presents Catholic issues to the state legislature, spoke on life issues dealing with conception to natural death, the Georgia Assembly passing the Women’s Right to Know Act on abortions, and about the performance of the government at all levels in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Mulcahy said that he was proud of how faith-based groups and churches came forward to help the victims and evacuees of the hurricane, especially the local Atlanta Catholic churches and the archdiocesan Catholic Social Services.
He also commented on undocumented immigrants and how government does not want any services for them. Mulcahy then quoted from both the Old and New Testaments, where Scripture refers to helping the stranger in your land, adding that Pope John Paul II spoke on how well developed countries need to reach out to those attempting to improve their lives by coming to live in these countries.
The conference’s workshop consisted of a panel of nine women from different parishes who shared information about their women’s council activities that involve not only the women of the parish but the whole church. Some of these activities at the parish level involved speakers on stem cell research and the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject; the Christ Child Society, which provides clothing to impoverished children; Christmas events that involve not only the parish but also the surrounding community; providing meals for people in need; storytelling; and a game night fundraiser.
The new officers of the Atlanta chapter have plans for the women of the archdiocese.
“My vision with AACCW is to see it grow with the help of the archbishop,” Barron said. “I plan on visiting parishes that have little or no participation and … get the support from the priests in all the parishes.”
“I see AACCW as a place for the women’s organizations in the parishes to come together and share their experiences and knowledge. All the women in the archdiocese need to know they are part of AACCW,” said vice president Brown. “We are here to teach people how to be good leaders.”
For more information about the AACCW, contact women’s council officers for the local church or contact Mayfern Barron, AACCW president, at (404) 243-0869.