Walking Together During Lent

As we enter this Lenten Season, a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we pray that you are able to focus and find healing through the works of these three pillars.

Come Fast with Us

As a mother of three, I know first-hand how it can be hard to focus and follow all the practices involved during Lent while managing a household and possibly an absent family member. Earlier this month, I shared one of my favorite meatless recipes with you. Here is another from MCCW Director of Finance, Joan LaPore:

Beans & Rice

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can stewed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans (not drained or rinsed)
  • Seasonings to taste: cumin, salt and pepper
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cooked rice
  • Flour tortillas

Instructions: Saute the onion and garlic in a bit of oil. When soft, add the tomatoes and beans. Simmer until desired consistency. Season and serve with rice and tortillas and topped with cilantro.

Come Pray with Us

As MCCW’s perpetual charity, we hold the AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarians close to our hearts.  We provide for them through the Adopt-A-Seminarian program and our Endowed Scholarship Fund throughout the year. Join with us this Lent and support them through prayer by remembering one seminarian by name in your prayers each day. You will find a beautiful, printable calendar in this issue of The Well to help you remember them.

Come Give with Us

Finally, MCCW is humbly asking you to pledge $20, or the cost of meat for one or two Friday dinners, to our ministry. Your gift of any size helps us to continue our mission of connecting, uniting and inspiring US military-affiliated women across the globe as they grow and flourish in our faith. You can make your gift online by visiting www.mccw.org/giving.

Thank you for your continued prayers and generosity to MCCW.

Pillars of Lent

Entering the Desert

Here we are, once again, entering into the penitential season of Lent. This is the time where we are called to empty ourselves, enter the desert with Christ, follow his path to Cavalry and join in his suffering so we can rejoice in the Resurrection. That is a pretty hefty task, I know.  Maybe it is a little overwhelming to consider in this season of your life. Let me ease your mind as we break down Lent into its three pillars: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The pillars will help us to more easily and tangibly join our hearts to Christ’s.

First, let’s take a look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about these pillars:

CCC 1434: The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: efforts at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity “which covers a multitude of sins.” 

Prayer

“The most potent and acceptable prayer is the prayer that leaves the best effects. I don’t mean it must immediately fill the soul with desire . . . The best effects [are] those that are followed up by actions—–when the soul not only desires the honor of God, but really strives for it.”      –St. Teresa of Avila

Prayer is the first pillar for a reason: it is the foundation of our relationship with God. This is our communication with Him, this is where we ask great things of Him, praise Him, and share our lives with Him. Israel cried out to God in their slavery in Egypt – deliver us! Now is your time to cry out to God. What great things will you ask of Him? He responded to Israel with the parting of the Red Sea. What great miracles will you ask Him to perform in your heart to deliver you?

Prayer suggestion: Take on a form of prayer that is a little different and a little difficult. For example, you could:

  • wake up at 3 am every day to pray
  • implement the Examen prayer at morning, noon, and night
  • pray the Liturgy of the Hours
  • say a daily rosary  

Fasting

“The value of fasting consists not only in avoiding certain foods but in the giving up of sinful practices. The person who limits his fast only to abstaining from meat is the one who especially lowers the value of it. Do you fast? Prove it by doing good works. If you see someone in need, take pity on them. If you see a friend being honored, don’t get jealous of him. For a true fast, you cannot fast only with your mouth. You must fast with your eye, your ear, your feet, your hands, and all parts of your body.”        –St John Chrysostom

Fasting is an immensely powerful spiritual tool that is underutilized. This isn’t just a 40-day diet we are talking about. Fasting aids us in reclaiming our bodies and reuniting them to our spirits.  This isn’t just through fasting from food but also fasting from activities, distractions, time-wasters, and the things we use to fill our vision and block us from focusing on God. Fasting is an act of humility; setting aside the idols of your everyday life and allowing Christ to be the Lord of your life.  

Fasting suggestion: Fast from an activity this year; for example, fast from Netflix, Facebook, or being on your phone after 8 p.m. Know what and who you are fasting for and write it down; fast for someone who is suffering, fast for your priest, or fast for your children’s vocations.  

Almsgiving

“Let us also love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us have charity and humility. Let us give alms because these cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.”     –St Francis of Assisi

If you haven’t noticed, the theme of Lent is humility. Humble yourself by bringing yourself before God in prayer. Humble yourself by laying aside your comforts and desires through fasting. Now, humble yourself through almsgiving. The CCC speaks of almsgiving as “a witness to fraternal charity” and “a work of justice pleasing to God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462).  This is where we are called to humility by laying down what we have for love of others and trusting that God will provide where we lack.  

Almsgiving suggestions: Give to those in religious life or studying for the priesthood. 

  • Religious sisters need basic necessities like feminine hygiene products, good hair products, and quality kitchen items just like you do. Check out what a local convent needs! 
  • The AMS spends a great deal of money educating our future priests. Give to the MCCW Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship Fund to help form our military priests.   

Remember that this is meant to be the desert. We have 40 days of being tried and tested, more ready to follow Christ to the cross. Be intentional this year in how you prepare for Easter as you walk the desert of Lent.  

Making Your Way to Forum

Hoping to be a part of Forum 2022?  Let’s figure out how to get you there!

Asking for Chapel Support

  • It’s Never Too Late: If you are hoping for financial support from your chapel, don’t be afraid to approach your chaplain, chapel funds manager, or other chapel staff to share your request and how they can support you and other women from your chapel. And don’t be afraid to ask more than once if you haven’t received an answer. 
  • Offer to bring back and share the resources you receive: Each attendee at Forum will receive a swag bag full of great resources you can share with your chapel and the various ministries in your chapel community. Past chapel-funded Forum attendees have even agreed to write mini-reports for their chapel sharing what they learned and did during the event to facilitate sharing their newfound knowledge. 

Paying Your Own Way

  • Plan a Road Trip: Close enough for a road trip? Even if it is a long drive, consider making an adventure of it. Gather your girlfriends, car snacks, and your best road trip playlist, and hit the road!
  • Bunk Up: Most of the rooms in the room block have two double beds, but the hotel allows up to four occupants in a room. Make it like summer camp and share your room to stretch your budget dollars. 

Helping Other Gets to Forum

  • Adventures in Babysitting: Not your year to go to Forum? Offer to help a friend with her kids so she can attend — it doesn’t have to be the whole time, but maybe you can lighten the load for dad by taking the kids to school or carpooling to activities.
  • Create a Scholarship: Maybe your CWOC doesn’t have enough to send everyone to Forum, but consider pooling dollars to help current or future leaders attend this event to help them grow!
  • Be a Cheerleader: It can be a big leap to spend a weekend away from your family, especially for young moms. Encourage the younger women in your chapel to take that leap and to attend Forum. Your prayers and encouragement may be just what they need.  

 

Faye’s Flamingle

By: Denise Hummel

Are you getting excited for Faye’s Flamingle? This special HYBRID AUCTION will benefit MCCW and our perpetual charity – the MCCW Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship.

Now Accepting Donations!
We are requesting donations to help make Faye’s Flamingle a grand success. If you or your women’s ministry group would like to donate an item (or two or three) please provide details about your donation by following this link. The deadline to submit your donation information is 15 March 2022.

What Should We Donate?
In 2020, Boots & Blessings, received over 100 donated items. These items ranged from religious artwork, jewelry, wreaths, vacation homes, and experiences. We are excited to see the creative donations for our 2022 hybrid auction.

We thank you, in advance, for your generous donations and support of Faye’s Flamingle. Be sure to watch MCCW’s social media and future issues of The Well for details on how to register for the auction.

One for the History Books

By: Eleanor Gentilini, Historian

As we look forward to gathering with our sisters in Christ at our MCCW Worldwide Forum in Tampa next month, we would like to take a look back at past Forums, conferences, and retreats. From the very beginnings of MCCW in Europe in the mid-fifties, women realized the value of coming together with women from other chapels to share their faith, learn from a variety of speakers, and exchange ideas. For many years, MCCW-Europe held a conference each October at the Armed Forces Recreation Center in Berchtesgaden, Germany. High on a mountain near the Austrian border, close to Salzburg, the General Walker Hotel was the site of these gatherings which grew to over 500 women and as many as 75 priests. The conference began on Sunday afternoon and continued through Saturday morning – twice as long as any in recent decades. Women traveled from 13 regions including Italy, Spain, Belgium, England, Turkey, Cyprus, and the Azores, some spending two days in transit. That is dedication.

As a result of this experience, women returning to the States from Europe established MCCW-USA in 1970 in the Atlanta area. Within a few years, the organization expanded across the nation, and conferences were held every two years in the fall in various parts of the country. Due to the expansive area and cost of travel, it was more difficult to bring large numbers of women together, but in recent years the numbers have continued to grow. In the years between national conferences, the four regions held more locally-focused conferences which later became retreats. These, too, have grown larger over time.

In 2005, MCCW-Europe and MCCW-USA merged to become MCCW Worldwide, and the following year the first joint conference was held in Atlanta where MCCW-USA had begun. That same year was the 50th anniversary of MCCW-Europe, which then became a region of the worldwide organization. We have since established two more regions – Pacific and Asia – increasing once again the opportunity for more women to gather for retreats. Several years ago, our Worldwide conference was moved to April and subsequently became known as Forum.

As with everything during the last two years, we have had to cancel, postpone, or totally change the format of our gatherings. Forum 2020 was originally planned for San Antonio, postponed until fall, then finally held via Zoom – speakers, devotions, training, and Mass. Our first online silent auction turned out to be quite successful and will be continued. In the spring of 2021, regions held their retreats via Zoom as well – all on the same weekend, but each with its own program. Needless to say, it is with great excitement that we anticipate gathering in person at Forum 2022 in Tampa, and we hope you are planning to join us. There is an old saying in MCCW, that if you have never been to Forum, there are no words to describe the experience, and if you have been, no words are necessary.

 

Discernment in Five

In April, MCCW will select five new leaders for its Worldwide Board, through a process we call discernment. Here are the top five things you need to know:

  • Discernment isn’t anything crazy! Before you commit to helping lead MCCW, we want you to spend some time praying about it, so we created a special discernment process. Discernment just means a prayerful way of making a decision. And even though it might sound complicated or intimidating, it’s pretty easy. You can find a short guide to praying through this decision on your own here. And then a volunteer will lead interested women through the process of praying together on Friday, Apr. 22 at 5:45 p.m. eastern. Easy peasy, right?
  • Can’t be at Forum? No Problem!  Discernment of our worldwide leaders will happen during Forum, but we know that not everyone can be there. (We wish you could!) Since we have all gotten so good at using Zoom these past few years, we will hold our group discernment as a hybrid event. More details – and a Zoom link – will be available in early April.
  • A Spot for Everyone… There are five positions open on the MCCW Worldwide Board this Spring: President, Director of Forum, Director of Stewardship, Director of Communication, and Director-at-Large will be open for two-year terms. The Director of Finance position will be open for a special one-year term. Don’t see the right position for you? We have positions on our regional teams and our larger leadership team open, too! Email us at discernment@mccw.org so we can tell you more!
  • Know Someone Who Should Discern? Tell Us More! Sometimes the Holy Spirit uses us to nudge others toward action. Be that holy instrument by nominating someone you think should discern. You can submit their name and information here. We will reach out to them with the invitation and more details. And don’t worry, they aren’t committed to anything just by being nominated!
  • Leading MCCW is a Joy! You might be asking, “Why in the world would I want to help lead MCCW?” There are many reasons – helping others grow in their faith, growing in your own faith, learning new skills, making new friends, being part of a 65-year legacy of service – but it really comes down to one thing: serving Christ and our fellow military women is a joy!

 

Desert Perspectives

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Lenten greetings to you! 

This penitential season is often compared to the desert, a simile I have been pondering recently. As a three-time resident of Fort Bliss, I have spent some time in the actual desert so this comparison always grabs my attention. 

At first glance, the desert can seem empty or barren. The first time I visited the high desert of far West Texas, I was struck by the lack of trees or even large bushes. But when I looked closer, I realized how vividly alive the desert is with life. That life is perhaps different than I expected – it isn’t the green fields or rolling hills or forests of other landscapes, but a more subtle life. Lent, too, can feel a bit barren if we focus only on the things that are stripped away during this time – the Gloria and the Alleluia, meat on Fridays, those things we have chosen to give up. But when we look past those things, we are able to appreciate more fully that which we have perhaps overlooked – the moments of silence during the mass, the way we can fill up our hunger, or the space made by our sacrifices, with prayer.

The openness of the desert also gives us a perspective that we might not have elsewhere in our lives. I love hiking in the woods, surrounded by trees, but there is something about the view from the top of a desert mountain that is without comparison. How far can you see when nothing is obstructing your view? Lent is like this, too. When we cut distractions from our lives through the pillars of lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – we can see more clearly where God is calling us. 

In this issue of The Well, you will find a beautiful reflection from our Director of Faith Formation, Kitty Eisenbeil, about entering the Lenten desert through simple (not overwhelming!) ways to pray, fast, and give while growing closer to Christ. 

You will also find articles about Forum and MCCW’s upcoming discernment process, where we will select women to lead MCCW for the next two years. I pray that from your Lenten desert vista, you can see where God may be calling you to be a part of Forum or to serve as a leader in this wonderful ministry. 

Finally, our Director of Stewardship, Jamie Simpson-Smith, invites you to remember MCCW when you consider the ways you will give during Lent. Even the smallest gifts enable MCCW to connect, unite, and inspire more Catholic military women. 

As always, know that my prayers, and the prayers of the MCCW team, are with you. We pray that you experience the subtle beauty of this desert season as we journey together toward Calvary, and Easter beyond. 

In Christ,

Kim Miller
MCCW President, 2018-2022

 

Childcare at Forum? Yes!

You asked and MCCW listened. MCCW will offer childcare for children ages one to five during Forum 2022. Here are all the details you need to know in order to make Forum plans for you AND your littles:

MCCW will provide 30 childcare slots on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be able to select the childcare option and indicate the number of children needing care when you register for Forum.

If you have already registered, please contact Sue Parker at registrar@mccw.org as soon as possible to reserve your slot(s).

The Forum schedule will be tailored to allow your children to join us during Mass on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.

Childcare will be provided during the following Forum hours:

  • Thursday – none
  • Friday – 0830-1200/1400-1730
  • Saturday – 0730-1630/1830-2115
  • Sunday – none

Time will be made in the schedule for you to eat meals with your children, but our caregivers will provide snacks during childcare hours.

Childcare will cost $20 per child per day and the fee must be paid when completing the childcare registration form (separate from Forum registration.)

Babes-in-arms (children under the age of 1) are still invited to remain with their mothers throughout the event, as has been done at past MCCW events.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact Kim Miller at president@mccw.org or via phone at 575-914-1661.

And the Award Goes To

By: Denise Hummel, Awards and Recognition Chair

Past MCCW members and leaders Sheila Baker and Mary Ann Ernst embodied a dedication to the pillars of MCCW: spirituality, leadership, and service. Do you know a woman who shares those values and deserves to be recognized for it? Nominate her today for one of MCCW’s two biennial awards so we can honor her too! (Nominations are due by 15 March 2022.)

The Sheila Baker Award for Outstanding Achievement

This award was established in 2006 to honor Sheila’s 30 years of work at all levels of the MCCW. Help us recognize women who, like Sheila, have made a lasting impact on the Military Council of Catholic Women through their leadership, mentorship, and friendship.

In order to honor Sheila and her memory, we welcome nominees who have:

  • exhibited enduring and outstanding support of MCCW
  • furthered the goals and mission of MCCW through their accomplishments
  • demonstrated commitment to connecting, uniting, and inspiring her fellow Catholic military women

Submit your nomination for the Sheila Baker award here. No more than two women will be selected for this honor this year.

The Mary Ann Ernst Award Regional Harmony Award for Selfless Service

This award was established in 2014 to honor Mary Ann’s service to Catholic communities and especially to women’s ministry around the world.

In order to honor Mary Ann and her memory, this award is to be presented to women who have:

  • Exhibited selfless service and outstanding support to our military Catholic communities
  • Embraced the pillars of MCCW: spirituality, leadership, and service
  • Brought harmony to the communities in which she has lived and worshiped
  • Demonstrated a commitment to connecting, uniting, and inspiring her fellow Catholic military women

Submit your nomination for the Mary Ann Ernst award here. One awardee will be selected from each of MCCW’s seven regions so feel free to submit multiple nominations.

To read more about Mary Ann and Sheila, their legacies, and the past recipients of these awards, visit our website.

Meet Our New Spiritual Moderator

We are excited to share that Army Chaplain Father Eric Albertson has been named MCCW Spiritual Moderator. Father Albertson, who is originally from Arlington, VA, is the senior chaplain for Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. Please enjoy the following letter of introduction from Father Eric and make plans to join us for Forum 2022 where Father Eric will be one of our featured keynote speakers.