Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


AACCW leadership seminar speaker: ‘Women critically important to vitality of church’

By JEAN DRISKELL, Special to the Bulletin | Published July 18, 2013

SMYRNA—Leadership for a Catholic woman must look different than the world’s view, a keynote speaker told women gathered at a recent archdiocesan leadership and networking seminar.

“For us, leadership has to be about service and witness. Our leadership must be our lights shining in a world that has lost its way. The look of our faith must reflect who God has called us to be,” said Kysa Anderson Daniels.

“Leadership is service,” Daniels said. “Don’t lord it over others when in charge. Leadership is service and humility. One should always adopt a spirit of service. It is what God expects us to do.”

She continued, “Leadership is opening your heart to the possibilities and be vulnerable. You’ll know when the Holy Spirit is in the midst of things.”

“Leadership gives us an opportunity to witness. We need to share what we believe. God gives us a special avenue, as women, to connect with people,” Daniels said at the June 8 seminar sponsored by the Atlanta Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women. Seventy-one women attended the event held at the Atlanta Chancery.

Employed by United Way of Greater Atlanta as a project manager, Daniels runs her own company, Clarion Communications. Her broadcast career includes anchor and reporter assignments for radio and TV networks, including CNN. Daniels is an active member of Christ Our Hope Church, Lithonia.

“When it comes to the serious matter of our spirituality,” she said, “women are critically important to the vitality of our Church, to the propagation of our faith, and to the witness of who God is and who, through God, we are.”

She asked, “If service and witness are so important to demonstrating leadership within our Church and faith, why aren’t we doing it?”  Some of the reasons she gave were that women may feel powerless, believe someone else will do it, feel overwhelmed, too busy or inadequate.

“The antidote to our challenges to service and witness is simple,” Daniels said. “We must accept the free grace of God and his gift of the Holy Spirit. Grace and the Holy Spirit alone will enable us to become stronger, more assured leaders, so that we can wear the look of leadership with exceeding grace and confidence.”

She said that women need time for God, service, prayer and Mass.

“Leadership must always be service and witness to others in God. Our heavenly Father will give us grace to do both,” she said.

What makes a true leader

Fern Bergeron, AACCW leadership commission chair, continued on the theme of what makes a person an effective leader. A former director of marketing service for the Pennsylvania Medical Society where she planned a range of small and large-scale meetings, Bergeron took early retirement when her family moved to LaGrange. She became active at St. Peter Church, volunteering on the parish women’s council as well as other organizations in LaGrange.

“A leader has respect, both for those she serves and by those who follow her,” Bergeron said. “A leader earns the trust of her followers by building up her character traits of integrity, fairness, and open mindedness.”

“A true leader listens to the ideas and opinions of her followers, promotes change and motivates them to meet the organization’s goals,” she said.

She continued, “Leadership not only requires trust, it also requires being consistent, fair, open and helping to inspire others to become the best that they can be.”

AACCW is for all women

She reminded participants that all women of the Archdiocese of Atlanta are members of the AACCW by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory’s decree. She then explained that the AACCW is made up of the women’s councils, guilds, circles or clubs within the 100 parishes in the archdiocese.

Bergeron explained the organizational structure of AACCW. The organization is divided up into four districts with about 25 parishes in each district.

“The district meetings provide a place for information of the AACCW to be communicated and distributed to the parishes,” she said.

The AACCW is a part of the Councils of Catholic Women in the Diocese of Savannah, in Charleston, S.C., and in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., which make up the Province of Atlanta. This province is under the National Council of Catholic Women, founded in 1920. The NCCW currently consists of 1,000 Catholic women’s groups and 4,000 individuals nationwide. The NCCW is under the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, founded in 1910, which has 100 worldwide Catholic women’s organizations.

“The most important entity regarding leadership in any and all Catholic women’s organizations is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the love of Jesus, and the spiritual wisdom and guidance of God the Father,” Bergeron said.

Deanna Holmer, AACCW president-elect, made a presentation on the purpose and goals of the organization and its own organizational structure. She is a member of St. Mary Church, Toccoa, and has been president of the Northeast district and Atlanta province representative for the AACCW.

“We are here to unite the women of our archdiocese to reach the goals of our Catholic teaching,” she said. “Our goals are to give the women a common voice, to represent the Catholic principle in our community, and to stimulate the work of our Catholic women’s group.”