Published September 5, 2019
ATLANTA—More than 650 women attended the annual convention for the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) Aug. 21-24 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel and Convention Center in Atlanta.
The NCCW celebrated its 99th year with the theme, “Reflecting the Joy of God, Caring for God’s Creation.”
“It is nearly a century of living the Gospel message with compassion, intelligence, life-affirming prayer and relevant programs that deepen our own faith and transmit our Catholic values to our families, parishes, communities, nation and the world,” said Maribeth Stewart Blogoslawski, former president of NCCW.
The United States Catholic Bishops founded the NCCW in 1920. The council’s mission is to support, empower and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service.
Attendees heard from various speakers about caring for the environment and discussed other issues affecting their communities. The event included fellowship, prayer, meditation, fundraisers, meetings and orientation for new members.
The charity assisted during the convention was Catholic Charities Atlanta, said Yvette Carr, Atlanta Province director for NCCW. Toiletries, gift cards and donations were collected to give to those in need.
The annual convention is an opportunity for members to learn, pray and enjoy friendships new and old, said Blogoslawski.
“Pope Francis calls for a new attitude”
The keynote speaker for the convention was Bishop Peter A. Rosazza, former bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford in Connecticut.
During his address, Bishop Rosazza explained that human dignity means we are made in the image and likeness of God; and because we all come from the same parents theologically, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
“The dignity of the human person, the solidarity of the human race form the backdrop against which all economic policies are formed,” he said. Our beliefs of human dignity and solidarity are reflected in many areas of life, including Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, explained Bishop Rosazza.
The pope released the encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home,” in which he challenges Catholics to reflect on the ways resources are used and to care for God’s creation.
The encyclical includes some heavy stuff, “but it’s like spinach—you might not like it but it’s good for you,” said Bishop Rosazza.
He explained various points from the encyclical, including discovering God in nature and to consider every impact actions have on the environment. There are small steps all can take that are environmentally friendly, such as turning off lights when leaving the room and shutting down computers when they are not in use, said Bishop Rosazza.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta responded to Pope Francis’ call by implementing the Laudato Si’ Action Plan in 2016. With the help of professors and staff from the University of Georgia, the plan includes various options for parishes and parishioners to create a more sustainable world.
Since the implementation of the action plan, the Atlanta Archdiocese has held an annual Green Mass celebrated in early October, planted trees with ecumenical partners and provides support for parishes through Justice and Peace Ministries. Many parishes have also created “green ministries” to help their communities reverse the threat of global climate change.
“Pope Francis calls for a new attitude towards the created world and our place in it,” said Bishop Rosazza. “God willing, out of this will emerge a universal solidarity,” he said.
“You’re living bearers of the harvest.”
Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, diocesan administrator for the Atlanta Archdiocese, celebrated the opening Mass on Aug. 22, feast of the Queenship of Mary, at the NCCW convention.
Today we celebrate the 99 years of dedication of generations of women, said Bishop Konzen. “Thank you for the ways that you honor the church,” he said.
Concelebrants included Bishop William Wack of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee in Florida; Bishop Rosazza and Bishop Emeritus J. Kevin Boland, of the Diocese of Savannah, along with priests and deacons.
During his homily, Bishop Konzen expressed gratitude to the council for encouraging youth to be involved in the church.
“Thanks to all of you for lifting up our young people both in prayer and in action,” he said.
In the spirit of the feast day, Bishop Konzen explains how Mary is “a very different sort of queen.” Her influence is over the heart, her wealth is the divine gifts that she bestows to others and her power is to turn our hearts toward Jesus, he said.
“There can be no one to serve as a model for your work and greater influence or greater impact than this one, our Blessed Mother,” said Bishop Konzen.
“Thank you for the good that you do in the work of the church and for the way that your sacrifice as Catholic women is grace and truth for our ministry that we share, a ministry of joyful service,” he said.
The 100th anniversary convention will be Aug. 26-29, 2020 in Washington, D.C.