Volunteer of the Month: Sue Parker

If you have ever attended an MCCW event, you probably know Sue Parker. Sue has been MCCW’s registrar for many years and her no-nonsense attitude and cheerful smile keeps us all on track in the crazy time leading up to an event. 

As our registrar, Sue is responsible for all the behind-the-scenes work on the Eventbrite registration website as well as “nuts and bolts” tasks like sending invoices, keeping track of registration changes, and ensuring that name tags get printed for all attendees at MCCW events. She also handles all the intricacies of chapel payments from each branch of service — no easy task and one we are all grateful to Sue for handling.

In the past twelve months, Sue has created the event registrations for all seven MCCW retreats as well as Forum. She has also trained each regional team on how to use Eventbrite in their region — so they can help in the registration work and be ready to welcome each attendee to each event, with all the right registration information. 

Next time you register for an event, join us in saying a little prayer of thanksgiving for Sue!

Ensuring the Blessing of MCCW for All

Think back on your favorite MCCW experience. Was it meeting new friends at Forum? Spending time with Jesus during a retreat? Supporting our seminarians? Or a reunion with sisters in Christ? I hope that when you think about your time in MCCW, you recall beautiful friendships, warm hospitality, inspiring forum and retreat speakers, and intentional time participating in prayer services, and the liturgy and Sacraments of our Faith.

Remembering all the riches that you have experienced personally through MCCW, today MCCW humbly asks you to become an MCCW Sponsor and make a gift to support MCCW’s good work for Catholic military women and the AMS. MCCW accomplishes its work through the efforts of an all-volunteer leadership team and the financial support of chapel offerings and individual giving.

Your gift of MCCW sponsorship will help us to host a high quality Forum from April 23-26, 2020, in San Antonio, Texas, for more than 250 women, while simultaneously making preparations for seven regional retreats that will draw in nearly 500 more participants, and continuing to spread the work of MCCW’s ministry through digital communications and our online community that has grown to over 2700 participants.

Your support will help to ensure that future Catholic military women will continue to experience the blessing of the MCCW community.  To become an MCCW Sponsor, please visit www.mccw.org/giving today, 

 

Remembering With Gratitude

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Time flies, doesn’t it? As I write, we are wrapping up October and charging full-steam into November and I can hardly believe that another year will soon be over. 

For us in the Catholic Church, the year will be over even sooner — the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 1, marks the first day of the new liturgical year. We want to help you prepare for the start of Advent (it will be here before you know it!), so you will find several Advent resources and ideas in this issue of The Well

The end of the year is also a great time for reflecting on all that has happened in the previous twelve months and this year. MCCW is spending some time reflecting on our role in promoting and encouraging vocations, especially those to the priesthood in the Archdiocese for the Military Services. 

We are remembering with gratitude all of your generous gifts that made it possible for MCCW to endow its scholarship for co-sponsored seminarians and we are excited about the number of chapels and seminarians participating in our Adopt-a-Seminarian program this year. We are also thinking about other ways we can encourage vocations — through our organization, in our chapels, and in our families. Have you ever asked your son if he has thought about the priesthood? Read on for some of the ideas we share.

Want more on vocations? Make sure you register for Forum today, where we will be joined by one of our very own AMS seminarians and will have the opportunity to participate in a very special auction for our promised priests. 

As we move into November, it is also a time for gratitude and I am grateful for each and every one of you — the women we serve in MCCW. Thanks for the opportunity to connect, unite, and inspire you each month!

In Christ,

Kim Miller

 

Faith Feature: Vocation Awareness Week 

By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

“My vocation is love!” – St. Therese of Lisieux

National Vocation Awareness Week, celebrated November 3-9, 2019, is an annual week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations.”  Source: USCCB

How Can We Support and Encourage Vocations?

  1. Through prayer
  2. By encouraging people to “consider the call.”
  3. By donating to the MCCW Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship. (insert link to that mccw web page)

“Again, (amen), I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” Matthew 18:19 (NAB)

Consider publishing this Prayer for Vocations in your parish bulletin and asking your pastor to include these Prayers for the Faithful during Mass. Hang the current group photo of the Archdiocese for the Military’s Co-Sponsored Seminarians in the back of your sanctuary for all to see so they can remember these young men in their prayers. 

Parish Prayer for Vocations

Loving and Generous God,
it is You who call us by name
and ask us to follow You.
Help us to grow in the Love
and Service of our Church
as we experience it today.

Give us the energy and courage
of Your Spirit
to shape its future

Grant us faith-filled leaders
who will embrace Christ’s Mission
of love and justice.

Bless the Church of ______________
by raising up dedicated and generous leaders
from our families and friends
who will serve Your people as Sisters,
Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers.

Inspire us to know You better
and open our hearts
to hear Your call.

We ask this through our Lord.

Source: USCCB

Prayers for the Faithful

For young people in our community that they may respond generously with open hearts and willing spirits if the Lord calls them to the priesthood, diaconate, or consecrated life.  We pray to the Lord …

For men and women to be open to God’s call to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as priests, deacons, or consecrated persons.  We pray to the Lord …

Source: USCCB

We Have a Shared Responsibility

We have a responsibility to encourage vocations. We should pray for discernment and courage, identify people we recognize as having gifts and talents that would make them good priests, sisters, and brothers, and invite them to consider the call. 

This includes people in our own families. MCCW’s own AMS Seminarian Liaison, Denise Hummel, reflected on this responsibility:

“For me personally, as a recent convert (1995), I never mentioned the priesthood to my oldest son…. not even once. Why? It just never crossed my mind. 

You know the conversation you have when they are little, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ 

Over many years, and growing in my personal faith, and witnessing a priest over for dinner turn and ask my son (then a young college student), ‘Have you thought of the priesthood?’, I realized that we are ALL called to extend the invitation to young men and women to answer the call to serve as priests and religious. 

The future of our faith we all love so very much depends and relies on it. 

So, if you now ask my youngest son, seven years old, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ he might say a policeman, firefighter, or even a priest. Although, when he was about five, and I asked him if he might ever like to be a priest one day, he responded, ‘No…all they do is so much talking! Talking! Talking! Talking!’

Kids are so cute (and honest!) ”

 

Team AMS – Supporting Seminarians at the Army Ten-Miler

By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

Katie Hanna is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve who supports vocations in a very interesting and inspiring way—by running ten miles! Katie was a member of the Archdiocese for the Military Service’s Army Ten-Miler Team. She raised almost $800 towards seminarian formation and Catholic religious support for servicemembers and their families stationed all over the world. Katie spoke with us about the impact priest chaplains have had on her family and why she supports the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS). 

What impact have chaplains had on your faith life?

I love our military chaplains, especially chaplain priests. I have to credit chaplains in part for helping me and my family in surviving 23 years of military life. I’ve worked as a pastoral coordinator at three different military chapels and have seen firsthand how much our military chaplains and priests do for Soldiers and their families. They have a greater devotion because many of them work as a unit chaplain and also have a Catholic community to provide pastoral care for as well.  It’s a huge undertaking!  Many of our Soldiers and families depend on our military priests to live out their faith and make sacraments, especially in remote or deployed locations. My husband came into the faith through Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) while deployed.  I’m so grateful that God opened that door for him and a priest chaplain was available to help him in the process. 

Why did you run the Army Ten-Miler (ATM) to benefit seminarians? 

The co-sponsored seminarians are the future of our military priest chaplaincy. They are such a treasure as they are committing to serving not only as military officers but also military priests.  We need to support them however we can. 

Here’s a question just for fun…how did you FEEL after running ten miles (physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally)? Was it worth it?

I felt tired after the run but also exhilarated from accomplishing my 4th ATM.  It’s always fun to see other AMS runners, especially this year with bright gold shirts! I love being nourished spiritually at Mass as a group the night before as well as physically at the pasta dinner! For me running the AMS ATM is worth all the sacrifice. 

I would tell anyone thinking about running the ATM next year — do it!  Running/walking is fine but plan and make time to train. It’s for a good cause and you’ll have lots of prayer warriors with you!. If you can’t run it, try to donate a little something toward it.  We have the power of numbers.  Together we can support our co-sponsored seminarians.

L-R: CH (CPT) Phil Trah, USA, Katie Hanna, Randy Mueller.

Header Photo: Team AMS with Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio

 

Forum 2020 Update: Discerning His Voice

By: Aly Tugeoen, Director of Forum 2020

One of my favorite new-to-me quotes is from Saint (Pope) John Paul II.  He said that “For people of faith, there is no such thing as coincidence; only instances of divine providence that we have not yet fully understood.”

While I love this, I am also hard-headed.  God has a way of putting things and people in our lives that help us fulfill our mission here on earth, but we don’t always see it right away.   Sometimes I need a hammer hitting me over the head in order for me to realize what is actually happening and how God is working through things in my life.  

This is how some see the discernment process. They feel they need to be hit over the head with the hammer before considering the possibility of what God is putting before them. Others are able to feel a gentle nudge in prayer and run with it. No matter where you are on the spectrum, discernment does not have to be a fearful process.  

Let me ask you a question. When you find out what your next duty station will be, do you just sit around and wait for the movers to show up?  Of course not. We all start looking for people we know that have been stationed there previously, or we call someone we know currently there to start asking about housing, schools, the main post chapel, CWOC, and perhaps how to get your family enrolled in the EFMP program.  We work proactively to collect information that will help us make the decisions that are part of a PCS move. The same can be said for discernment.  

If you feel called to discern for an MCCW board position during Forum, or for a board position at your local CWOC, then here are a few things you can do to help you discern whether this is the right move for you and your family.  

  • Spend time in prayer. Consider daily prayer and/or a praying a novena with the special intention of discerning God’s will for you regarding the position you are thinking about. 
  • Visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Face to face time with Jesus is never a bad thing.  Perhaps your chapel has a First Friday Exposition or a local parish has perpetual adoration that fits your schedule better. I once read that just as you can still get sunburned from the sun’s rays on a cloudy day, we never leave our time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament without being blessed with the rays of Jesus’s love and grace.
  • Talk to your family.  Tell them what you are thinking about and ask them to pray with and for you.  Discuss the position you are discerning and why you feel God is calling you to be a part of the organization at this time in your life. Ask for their input.
  • Get a copy of the position description. And on that note, ask questions!  As an example, if you are discerning for the Director of Financial Stewardship, MCCW will be happy to provide a copy of the position description.  It will give you an idea of what’s expected from the person that fills that position. And if you have questions, ASK THEM, PLEASE! Ask the person that currently holds it. She will give you an honest assessment.  Ask anyone on the board or anyone that has held that position in the past. We are always happy to answer any questions that will make the discernment process more clear for you.
  • Make a list of pros and cons. See how things shake out.
  • Look for the fruits of the spirit, particularly love, joy and peace. The decision to discern for a position should not be wrought with doubt and anger or anxiousness, but with love and peace.  If you are not at peace with the decision to discern, then perhaps the timing is not right.

Discernment does not have to be overwhelming. We do not walk into this process with our eyes closed, taking each step without a guide. Jesus is there in each step.  Just because a person goes through discernment and decides not to pursue a position on the MCCW board or on a CWOC board does not mean that it was all a waste. You have done EXACTLY what the discernment process was designed to do.  

And that makes God happy.    

Promised Priests: Meet David Chacko 

By: Denise Hummel, MCCW Director at Large: Seminarian Support

The Archdiocese of the Military Services (AMS) proudly supports 46 Co-Sponsored Seminarians.   These men have answered a call to serve both God and country and are busy completing their academic years of training and formation at various seminaries around the United States.  As plans are underway for an exciting Forum 2020, we will be blessed to have David Chacko present with us as we connect with one of these 46 promised priests.

David is the second of seven children and grew up in San Antonio.  As we prepare to gather and unite in his hometown next April, let’s take a moment to get to know him.  His parents were both Army doctors stationed at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston where David was born.  The Chacko family was lucky enough to keep the same assignment until his father’s retirement from the Army.  

When asked, “David, who do you admire the most?” he shares, “My mother — because of her steadfast example of faith, joy, and trust in the Lord that has shaped my own relationship with God and continues to inspire me today.”

David has always shown pride in academics.   He applied, and was accepted, to both West Point and the Air Force Academy his senior year of high school.   The acceptance letter for West Point arrived in the mail first; marking the beginning of his journey to serve the Army and continue in his parent’s footsteps.

Regarding David’s personal call to the vocation of the priesthood, he shares, “A conversion experience at the end of high school prompted me to enter into my faith more deeply. One day at Mass as a cadet at West Point, I felt a strong desire to bring Jesus in the Eucharist to others. Continued discernment led me to the seminary. I am grateful to be on this journey towards priesthood and Army chaplaincy so that I might have the opportunity to serve both God and country.”

As we prepare to gather in San Antonio, next April, we look forward to having David speak and share his journey to the priesthood.   He will inspire you and encourage you to invite others to answer the call to the vocation of the priesthood.  May God bless all of our promised priests — those who answer the call to serve a vocation within a vocation — serving both God and country.    

Ordination Update

The Reverend Mr. Timothy G. Mergen was ordained a transitional deacon on Thursday, Oct. 3  in Rome, Italy. He hopes eventually to serve as a Catholic chaplain in the United States Air Force. His home diocese is Madison, Wisconsin.   May God bless our promised priests.

Advent Toolkit 

By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

We’re talking Advent ALREADY? It’s not even Thanksgiving! I know what you’re thinking, “Nancy, you’re as bad as the Christmas displays in Wal-Mart! I haven’t even BEGUN baking pumpkin pies!”

Bear with me, ladies. You need a plan for Advent. How many times have you had the best intentions to make Advent a focused time of prayer and reflection for yourself and your family, but got bulldozed by the run-up to the holidays? I’m here to help you get ahead of all that. 

What follows are two simple suggestions — one for yourself or your CWOC group, and one for your family. Check out these studies, order WAAAAAAY in advance (but don’t inadvertently store them with your secret Christmas present stash!), and relish the extra, dedicated time with God during the season of joyful anticipation. 

For yourself or to share with your CWOC group

Journey Through Advent: A Daily Advent Devotional for the Catholic Military Woman

by Annaliese Harry (Author), Caitlyn Anderson (Illustrator)

Written by a military spouse for military-affiliated women, this devotional guides the reader through Advent with scripture, prayer, reflections, and ideas for service. It invites you to spend time with God each day of Advent, preparing your heart and soul to receive God’s precious Gift more completely this Christmas. 

I suggest ordering this book with a beautiful notebook so you can write down your own insights and prayers in response to the daily inspirational verses. I also invite you to share this resource with your chapel group. You can use it independently each day and come together as a group once a week to talk about the insights you gained. 

For your family

Mosaic Jesse Tree ornaments 

Sara Estabrook blogs at To Jesus Sincerely, she is the spouse of a West Point professor, and she is a talented artist.

The Jesse Tree is a devotion that explores the “family tree” of Jesus. Jesse was the father of King David, and they are Jesus’ ancestors through Joseph. We call it a “Jesse Tree” because of the verse in the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Oh come, now rod of Jesse’s stem.”

For this Jesse Tree activity, you’ll need Sara’s book and a tree on which to hang 25 ornaments. You can print out a picture of a tree and tape the ornaments to it. You can cut a branch from a real tree and leave it on your table. My Jesse Tree is made of metal, hangs on my wall, and has lots of branches. I found at TJ Maxx, but there are many good choices available on Amazon. 

Sara’s Jesse tree begins on December 1 and ends on Christmas Day. Each day, your family will read scripture, reflections, and prayers together from the booklet and learn about one of Jesus’ ancestors. Then, you hang the ornament corresponding with the day’s reading. On December 17, you will hear the O Antiphons, which you’ll recognize from “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The entire exercise teaches your children about how Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament. The Jesse Tree is an Advent tradition my children look forward to every year. As they grow, they gain new insights into Our Savior and His miraculous birth. 

 

Faith Formation Spotlight

By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

Hello all! 

Our CWOC here at West Point is already looking ahead to fall. We’ve put out the final Evite for our casual summer “Ladies Night Out” events and printed the invites for our kick-off brunch and first Bible study meeting.

As your chapel group gears up to relaunch, check out the revamped CWOC Resources tab on MCCW’s website. We have resources for Bible & faith studies, CWOC discernment, liturgical living, and devotion guides. I’d like to highlight MCCW’s signature programs, which are pre-planned, tried and true ceremonies aimed at unifying your chapel group in commitment and devotion to God.

Fiat Installation Ceremony

Has your chapel group formally installed its new leadership? Our Fiat Installation Ceremony is an intentional way to consecrate incoming officers to the service of our Lord. Within the ceremony, officers prayerfully pledge to rely on God for the strength and inspiration necessary to foster the spiritual growth of their community. They are commissioned to serve and blessed by a priest. 

Adopting a Patroness: Our Lady of Good Counsel

Consecrate your chapel group to Our Lady of Good Counsel. The gift of counsel enables us to detach from our desires and seek the will of God. In Mary’s fiat, we find inspiration and encouragement to trust God wholeheartedly. Entrust your chapel group into the hands of Our Lady, asking her to guide and renew the community of women and draw them closer to God and stimulate them to seek His holy will.

Illuminated Rosary

Many CWOC groups are devoted to praying the rosary, but have you ever prayed an Illuminated Rosary? It is prayed with the accompanying visual of lit candles formed into the shape of a rosary. This beautiful meditation is not only suitable for use within your chapel group, but also within families or in religious education settings because it draws children into the devotion. 

Other MCCW Signature Programs include Bread and Cider Services, Sip and Share, and Mother’s Prayers. Discover them all at http://mccw.org/resources/programs/