By ERIKA ANDERSON, Staff Writer | Published October 26, 2006
At the annual convention for the Atlanta Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, women from across the archdiocese gathered to celebrate their shared faith and further explore ways they can serve their church.
The annual convention had a special purpose as well: to mark the Council’s golden jubilee—50 years of history in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Held at the Wyndham Conference Center in Peachtree City in early September, the convention featured speakers, luncheons and Masses celebrated by AACCW chaplain, Father Paul Berny, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Marietta, and Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who also served as the keynote speaker for the closing brunch on Sunday, Sept. 10.
In his remarks, Archbishop Gregory focused on the importance of family in the life of the church. He recalled memories of his own childhood and the family table around which much of the memories were born.
“Many modern-day families have lost the blessing of a family table like those that many of us remember. With the rush of activities that compete for common time, family tables are simply pieces of furniture in a house that rarely serve as the gathering place for the people of a home,” he said. “In such a world, the Eucharist may be an even greater Mystery.”
In order to understand the Eucharist, the archbishop said, one first must understand what it means to be a family that dines and shares together.
“Dining is an activity that does so much more than merely sustain life,” he said. “Family dining enhances life, gives hope, nourishes the spirit and consoles the brokenhearted.”
On a grander scale, he said, “dining on the Body of the Lord is a life-giving activity. We live because of that dining that we share with the Lord of Life. Our participation in the Eucharist is more than a spiritually nutritional exercise; it is a promise of Life everlasting.”
The archbishop’s talk topped off a weekend of speakers at the convention.
On Saturday, Sept. 9, Jerry Aull, a national speaker, musician and parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City, was the keynote speaker for the luncheon.
Aull addressed the full ballroom of women and spoke to them about the need for balance in lives full of commitments.
“I really think we have become addicted to our busyness,” he said. “We have to remember that it’s not about the quantity of our yeses, it’s about the quality.”
As he spoke animatedly, using humor and crowd participation, he encouraged the women to hold themselves accountable for the commitments they make.
“We need the ability to know that when we say yes, there is a reasonable chance of that coming true,” he said.
Some people work well in a crisis mode, Aull said, but it’s necessary to know when to slow down.
“We are a culture addicted to that adrenaline. We don’t know how to slow down. We have too many phone numbers, too many e-mail addresses,” he said. “We have to remember that it is the Lord who is directing us, not all of this busyness.”
Joan Lucas, a past president of the AACCW, received the Our Lady of Good Counsel Award, and spoke of how the organization had impacted her life. She became involved when her husband was transferred to Atlanta.
“(AACCW) made a wonderful difference. We didn’t have any family here, but here all you were, my extended family. The fellowship of the AACCW is just so wonderful.”
Joan Brown, a parishioner at St. John Vianney Church in Lithia Springs, and the executive vice president of the AACCW, said that she has learned how to be a leader in her 20 years of involvement in the organization.
“I got involved because I saw that there were all these women who were really active in teaching other women to be leaders,” Brown said.
As she has learned leadership skills, Brown has applied them at her parish, serving on many committees.
“(Through the AACCW) I, too, became a leader. I became more organized, and I became involved, not only locally, but nationally with the National Council of Catholic Women.”
Brown is also grateful for the fellowship opportunities she has received through the AACCW.
“I’ve gotten to know women from all over the archdiocese. We are able to get together to share our failures and our successes. We just have a great time together,” she said, adding that she is proud to serve as the vice president during the organization’s jubilee.
“It’s great to be a part of it, and I’m just very honored to be in this position.”