CWOC Fall Kick-Offs in the Time of COVID

By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

I write to you with my feet in two worlds. One is immersed in online learning, email communication, and planning via Facebook Messenger. The other is dipping its toes into in-person interactions. I’m currently writing this as I sit on a park bench, mask on, at my son’s football practice. We are all trying to figure out the “new normal.” The hardest part? Acknowledging and respecting that everyone isn’t reacting the same way to things opening up, and giving them space to figure out how they will navigate their “new normal.”

What does this look like for our CWOC groups? 

This may mean a group that has met in the mornings for many years switches to evenings in response to members’ managing their children’s online educations during the day. Some women, burnt out by additional workplace and household demands, may reject a rigorous academic study in favor of simple faith sharing and encouragement. Instead of meeting at the chapel, women may gather in small, in-person neighborhood groups. Some women are eager for interactions past the four walls of their homes while others remain patiently cocooned. 

How to handle the chaos and confusion

Honestly? I don’t like this dissonance. I wish we didn’t have to navigate this continued uncertainty and what seems like (on the surface) disunity. Recently, I read something from Pope Francis that challenged me and encouraged me to be open to our reality. It was from a 2014 address to Italian teachers and students in which the pontiff talked about his great love for school. His words that resonated with me follow:

“I love school because it is synonymous with openness to reality. At least it should be! Yet it does not always manage to be so, and so that means that the structure needs to be adapted a little. Going to school means opening one’s mind and heart to reality, in the wealth of its aspects, of its dimensions. And we do not have the right to be afraid of reality! School teaches us to understand reality. Going to school means opening one’s mind and heart to reality, in the wealth of its aspects, of its dimensions. And this is so very beautiful!”

The reality is, this year is weird. This year is uncomfortable. I wish I could pull the covers up over my head and sleep through its different-ness. However, I must accept the uncomfortable realities of this year. I must see it as it is and open myself up to the lessons it can teach me, which includes different ways to minister and reach out to the ladies in my community. 

What do the women in your community need? 

Have you taken the time to ask them? I created a Google form to assess the needs, wants, and comfort level of the women in my chapel group. I discovered answers as diverse as the questions I asked. I hope by asking the questions and presenting the answers to the board of my chapel group, I’ve opened them up to the variety of ways we can minister to women during this time. 

Some women crave service opportunities, safe social gatherings, traditional studies, or simple faith sharing. Can we be okay with our chapel groups looking different this year? Can our ministries become more deliberate and targeted? Smaller, more intimate groups may facilitate real intimacy and Christian sisterhood. Can we think outside the box, welcoming people into our backyards for socially-distanced interaction or to an evening study when before, there was none? 

Most importantly, we should stress person-to-person connections at this time. 

Check-in with your chapel women. Has anyone in their families been sick? Have they had a baby during this stressful time? Are they craving some one-on-one connection and reassurance? 

If we’re open to it, this year can be a “school” that refocuses us on what’s essential in our ministry: connecting, uniting, and inspiring women. While how may look different, it’s essential that this important work is done. This month, take some time to assess your own comfort level, gifts, and needs and pray for the confidence and holy perseverance to conduct your ministry in new ways. 

Quoted from: Pope Francis, “Address of Pope Francis to Students and Teachers from Schools Across Italy.” St. Peter’s Square, 10 May 2014, 

Recognizing Those Who Lovingly Serve

Awards and Recognition

By: Denise Hummel, Forum Awards and Recognition Chair

MCCW recognizes the time, talents, and treasures of women who lovingly serve our organization. Applications are now being accepted through October 1, 2020.  Recipients will be recognized in November 2020.  More information will be forthcoming in the October issue of “The Well” and on social media.

Sheila Baker 

Sheila Baker’s involvement with MCCW began in the early 1970s. She worked tirelessly at all levels of MCCW— from the chapel level, at the area now reorganized as the regional level, and on to the national level. Sheila was President of MCCW-Europe for two terms in the early 1990s. Sheila was a true leader and role model. She was a mentor and friend of MCCW for nearly thirty years.

In order to honor Sheila and her memory, this award is presented to MCCW members who exhibit enduring and outstanding support and accomplishments in furthering the goals and mission of MCCW-Worldwide.

If you would like to nominate an individual to be considered a recipient of the 2020 Sheila Baker Award, please complete the form at mccw.org/awards.                 

Mary Ann Ernst 

Mary Ann Ernst was a selfless servant and a unifying leader. She was a mentor and friend to MCCW for more than 20 years. Mary Ann’s involvement with MCCW began when she started worshiping in military chapels. She worked tirelessly at all levels of MCCW — at the chapel and regional levels, as well as on the MCCW-Worldwide Board of Directors.

In order to honor Mary Ann and her memory, this award is presented to regional MCCW members who exhibit selfless service and outstanding support in furthering the goals and mission of MCCW-Worldwide.  In addition, they consistently bring harmony to the communities in which they live and worship.

If you would like to nominate an individual to be considered a recipient of the 2020 Mary Ann Ernst Regional Harmony Award, please complete the form at mccw.org/awards.

Past Recipients of the Sheila Baker Award

Atlanta, 2006

  • Alba Thompson
  • Mary Clark

San Antonio, 2008

  • Maria Scott                                            
  • Ginger Flemming

Baltimore, 2010                                       

  • Michelle Hokenson        
  • Carol Fountain                         

Chattanooga, 2014

  • Susan Boling

Washington, D.C., 2016                                  

  • Lisa Donahue                               
  • Lisa Miklos

San Diego, 2018                                 

  • Marcia Stokes
  • Beth Manning            

Past Recipients of the Mary Ann Ernst Regional Harmony Award

Chattanooga, 2014                                    

  • Kelly Oliver
  • Joycelyn Laus
  • Robin Carlino
  • Brenda Wile                             

Washington, D.C., 2016                                  

  • Bernadette Kovalsick                              
  • Lynda MacFarland

San Diego, 2018                                 

  • Jen Carter
  • Denise Hummel
  • Diana Rudzika
  • Dollia Lemus

 

Back to Business

Dear Sisters in Christ,

September always feels like a back to business sort of month to me. Summer is definitely over, school is definitely in session, and so it is time to get back to business. 

This year, I think that may be harder than usual given the ongoing pandemic that we all hoped (prayed!) would be in our rearview mirror by now. But as a wise MCCW sister pointed out, this thing isn’t going away anytime soon, so the time for “I’ll deal with it after the pandemic” is over and forward we move!

So, too, is that true for MCCW. Last month we shared with you the announcements that we were canceling both our Asian Regional Retreat and Forum 2020, and I’ve got to tell you, I took a little time to grieve those hard decisions. 

But your MCCW team has remained hard at work planning for the future and there is so much to be done. Read on to find out more about:

  • Spring 2021 Retreats: MCCW will host a retreat in each of our US regions between February and April. Check out updates from your regional teams this month in our “Regional Retreat Round-Up.”
  • Guide to Worldwide Discernment: MCCW Worldwide discernment is coming up and we are looking for called, competent, and committed women to fill key roles on our board. Learn more about the positions and the process in “Called to Serve.” 
  • Help Wanted Ads: Our MCCW team continues to grow and we need your help. Read “Room at the Table” to find out how you can use your gifts and talents to serve our sisters in Christ around the world. 
  • Forum 2022: Pandemic or not, we are moving ahead and are so excited to share with you a special announcement about Forum 2022!

And that’s just part of what you will find in this month’s issue of The Well. Read on to see what else we have in store for you! 

Yours in Christ,

Kim Miller 

Looking Forward

By: Aly Tugaoen, Director of Forum

Just because our biennial Forum event won’t be happening in person doesn’t mean that we forget about the parts of Forum that make it special. Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation, is working with a team of volunteers to put together content that will celebrate our theme of “FIAT, giving God your YES!”  Look for information on liturgical living, special guest speakers, and programs that will enhance your Catholic faith.   

We also have a special Forum tradition that will continue despite the changes COVID-19 has placed on all of us.  Whether you are new to the military life, or a seasoned spouse, we hold a special place in our hearts for those seminarians that make the additional commitment to serving as military chaplains.  We are in desperate need of Catholic priests in every branch of service, but what can we do in addition to offering our prayers?  

At Forum, MCCW holds a silent auction focused on raising money to help offset the cost of educating these future priests through our perpetual charity.  Despite our inability to be together, our AMS Liaison, Denise Hummel, and Director at Large, Eleanor Gentilini, are still spearheading the effort to virtually raise money for The Military Council of Catholic Women Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship.  This promises to be a FUN experience benefiting a worthwhile cause.

Stay tuned to our website, Facebook and Instagram pages, and future editions of our newsletter, The Well, for special announcements and information about these events that are slated to start in November. 

Are you Called, Competent, and Committed?

Who is the MCCW Team? 

All the work of MCCW is done by a team of nearly 40 volunteers living all over the world. Our volunteers come from all branches of the military. Some are military dependents and some are active duty, in the reserves, or in the National Guard. Some are married, others are single. Some work outside the home, others are at home raising children or caring for their service members and household. Some of our volunteers are young and new to the military and others are more seasoned with years of military-life experience. Some of our volunteers hold positions that require technical or professional expertise and others fill roles that require time, energy, and a willingness to learn. 

How Does Serving MCCW Help Me Grow?

MCCW volunteers find that as they serve they also grow in many ways. A deeper faith and greater understanding of our faith is one of the big ways, but many MCCW volunteers also find that the faith of their families grow as well! Other volunteers have made lifelong friendships, have had opportunities to attend retreats and events, and have developed skills they can use in other areas of their lives. Many volunteers also use their MCCW volunteerism on their resumes when they are seeking employment. 

Beyond the benefits of volunteering with MCCW, many MCCW team members find that their work is an enhancement of their primary vocation — whether that be to married or single life — helping them to live that vocation more deeply. 

Are you Called, Competent, and Committed?

Each of our nearly 40 volunteers have a few things in common: they have servant’s hearts, a love of their sisters in Christ, and an openness to diving deeper into their faith. We sum up these qualities with the words: called, competent and committed.

If you are, we need you! Each year MCCW has several positions open for discernment, a prayerful decision-making process we use to select leaders for MCCW. We also have many positions available on a rolling basis and filled by board members who oversee each position. The many positions vary in time commitment, responsibility, and duration. 

Where Am I Being Called?

There is truly something for everyone in MCCW. Here are the positions that are currently available. 

Discerned Positions (Discernment to be held in November):

  • President: The president of the board oversees the work of the whole organization, plans and leads board meetings, helps set the strategic direction of the organization, and acts as the public face of the organization. This position requires a significant time commitment, some travel, and excellent organizational skills.
  • Director of Forum: The Director of Forum oversees the planning of the biennial Forum event, selects and directs the Forum team, and manages the event in real-time. This position requires an increasing time commitment as Forum grows closer, some travel, and great interpersonal skills.
  • Director of Finance: The Director of Finance manages MCCW’s finances including budgeting and basic accounting. This position oversees the MCCW Bookkeeper and requires a background in finance or accounting, some travel, and attention to detail.
  • Director of Communications: The Director of Communication oversees all of MCCW’s communications efforts from the website to the newsletter, from social media to signs and printed materials for events. This position manages a team of communications volunteers and requires a background in communications fields as well as excellent written communication skills.
  • Director at Large (1): MCCW’s Directors at Large serve in a wide variety of ways, always ready to meet the needs of the organization. A Director at Large should have a willingness to learn about all aspects of MCCW and an openness to serve as needed. 

Appointed Positions (appointments are ongoing as qualified women are identified):

  • Social Media Manager: The social media manager oversees MCCW’s social media profiles, with a particular focus on our Facebook page and groups. She creates and schedules original content as well as soliciting content from other MCCW volunteers. This position requires creativity, excellent written skills, and good time management skills.
  • Instagram Content Manager: The Instagram manager oversees MCCW’s Instagram profile. She creates and schedules original content, solicits and schedules content from other MCCW volunteers, and works to extend MCCW’s reach within the Instagram community
  • Stewardship Team Members: Stewardship is a growing area of MCCW’s work and we are building a team to support these efforts. Volunteers are needed for many types of work and we are looking for women with excellent writing abilities or a background in fundraising, development, donor engagement, or database management.
  • Faith Formation Team Members: Faith formation is one of the programmatic focuses of MCCW and we are interested in building a team of forward-thinking women who would like to develop online events for our members. Faith formation team members may be involved in the creation of new content or may explore ways to transition existing content to online platforms. 

What Should I Do Next if I Feel Called?

If one of the discerned positions seems like it would be a good fit for you, here’s what you should do:

  1. Download the personal discernment packet from www.mccw.org/discernment and begin the personal discernment process of prayer and reflection on your own.
  2. Prepare the materials you will need to turn in from the discernment packet and request a letter of good standing from your priest or chaplain. 
  3. Once you have the materials ready, or if you have any questions, email discernment@mccw.org
  4. The group discernment process will be held virtually on or about the week of November 1, 2020 (Specific date and time will be determined based on the availability of those discerning).

If one of the appointed positions seems like it would be a good fit for you, here’s what you should do:

  1. Email president@mccw.org to let us know you are interested!
  2. We will get in touch with you to share more about the position, the responsibilities, and answer any questions you might have. 
  3. We will work together to find the right place for you on our MCCW team!

If you are feeling called to serve, but aren’t sure where, email president@mccw.org and we will work together to find you a place on our team. All are welcome!

 

Joyful Momentum Summer Book Club Recap

By: Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

In late July, we wrapped up our five-week Joyful Momentum book club. While our live discussions have ended, our online archives can help you develop and nourish dynamic women’s ministries through the COVID-19 pandemic. Each Sunday, we posted author chats with Elizabeth Tomlin on our MCCW website, and each Wednesday night, we interacted with our readers via Zoom in the MCCW-Worldwide Community Facebook Group. Even though the book club is over, author chats and the study guide remain archived on our MCCW website for your reference. Consider spearheading a local study based on these materials that will equip and motivate your chapel group to reignite its ministry this fall.  

When we launched this book club, Elizabeth and I envisioned interacting with women hungry to jump back into ministry. We aimed to give them a road map for the way ahead. Much to our surprise, in our interactions on Zoom and Facebook, instead of eagerness to serve, we encountered tired women hungering for connection and sympathy during these overwhelming times. The effects of the pandemic and social distancing linger, and the unpredictability of the new school year weighs heavily on all of us. Some of our peers feel “stuck” and aren’t sure how to minister to other overwhelmed women. What we keep revisiting in our conversations is the need to cultivate our relationship with God, who sustains and refreshes us.  Now more than ever, especially when some of us can’t even receive the Eucharist, fostering our relationship with God through prayer and reading His word is crucial. We must go to Him in these uncertain, overwhelming times, tell Him our worries and concerns, and carefully listen to what He is telling us today. 

Besides speaking to us in the silence and in His word, sometimes God communicates through our interactions with other women who are striving for holiness. On our Zoom chat, Kaethe from Quantico boldly challenged us to “put on our big girl panties,” take the necessary health and safety precautions, minister to people, and welcome newcomers in innovative ways. That might involve a socially-distanced parking lot meet-up where everybody brings their own coffee and snacks, but can still see each other and connect from a safe distance. Patti from Ft. Lee encouraged us to give a personal touch to communication by reaching out via telephone or sending a card to members of our chapel groups. While this strategy is especially important to connect with those who don’t use social media, most women would appreciate personal outreach during these trying times. While they might not respond to a mass email and admit they need help, perhaps they’d be willing to open up to someone who calls them and asks how they’re really doing. 

This book club was a wonderful opportunity for us to read deeply, consider how we can use our gifts and talents to enrich our local women’s ministries, and encourage each other to move past fear and uncertainty and reach out to our sisters in Christ. Please access these materials online for a dose of inspiration and practical tools to enhance your local ministry. 

To help us serve you better moving forward, please share your thoughts about this series by participating in this evaluation, whether you were able to join us for the study or not. 

 

A Year in Review: Thank you for your Time, Treasure, and Talent

By: Elizabeth Tomlin, Director of Finance

In the nonprofit world, the fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.  When I look back at the year, I am proud to recall the great work that our ministry accomplished and pray that the women of the military Archdiocese were impacted positively by the efforts of so many people who gave generously of their treasure, time, and talents.  If you grew in faith this year by participating in MCCW, I ask that you consider supporting our mission by making a one-time or recurring gift at www.mccw.org. 

The first half of the year was one of great growth for MCCW.  We launched our second annual retreat in Asia with about 25 participants, and the European region gathered about 115 women for a three-day retreat in the Eternal City. 

MCCW also offered several Days of Reflection.  The first Day of Reflection at West Point expanded from our spring retreat theme “Strengthened by Grace” and was presented by Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith formation and past MCCW presidents, Erin Raymond and Lisa Miklos.  We also took two Days of Reflection to Oahu, which focused on the Forum 2020 theme of Mary’s fiat.  

As spring unfurled and the world began to comprehend the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, MCCW quickly made the difficult decision to postpone our Forum and instead offer a Day of Reflection at no cost to our digital community.  Through this effort, we were able to connect women across the globe, unite them at Mass and in prayer with Archbishop Broglio, and inspire them with talks from nearly ten speakers.  We saw a sharp increase of nearly150 participants in our digital community in the weeks surrounding the digital day of reflection.

As summer approached, we continued to help our members prepare for CWOC transitions with webinars and Zoom sessions on discernment.  We also offered a summer book club with Joyful Momentum: Growing and Sustaining Vibrant Women’s Groups in interactive Zoom format to foster discussion, as well as a series of Facebook Live conversations between the author, Elizabeth Tomlin, and Director of Faith Formation, Nancy Belmont.  This offering remains available as a resource on MCCW’s YouTube channel and website.

As July turned to August, MCCW began the start of a new non-profit year.  We estimate that our forty-person volunteer leadership team gave more than 6,000 hours of effort to bring quality retreats, Days of Reflection, webinars, and a book club to our membership.  These programs were supported entirely through approximately $12,000.00 in generous donations of individual benefactors and military chapels, along with modest registration fees for our in-person events.

MCCW is extremely grateful for the generosity of our volunteers and donors.  As we look toward holding a digital forum this November, regional retreats in Europe and Asia this fall, and regional retreats throughout the United States this spring, I ask you to consider making a gift to support the good work of MCCW at www.mccw.orgI also implore you to pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel in all of our work.        

 

Priestly Ordination During the Pandemic

By: Denise Hummel, Director of Seminarian Support

Words shared from Father Joseph Baltz

We are thankful and pleased to share that, despite the 2020 pandemic, eight ordination masses for the AMS co-sponsored seminarians were successfully held this summer. On Saturday, May 30, Deacon Joseph Baltz, surrounded by family and friends, was ordained.  Archbishop John C. Wester led the celebration and thanked Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio for his support and attendance on this special day.

Before the ordination mass began, Archbishop Wester shared, “Let us remember the words of Saint John Paul II:  ‘Home is the first seminary.’   Today I thank the family of Deacon Joseph Baltz for doing a good job!”  

Recently, Father Joseph Baltz was asked to share about his journey to the priesthood.  As you continue to pray for all of our promised priests, remember your home may very well be the ‘first seminary’ to a future priest, too.  

How challenging was it to be ordained during the 2020 pandemic?  

I was ordained on May 30th, and it was glorious. The preparation for the ordination on the other hand was quite annoying. The frustrating thing about it was that because of the fluctuating policies at the time, the Archdiocese nor the Cathedral knew if we were even going to have it on the scheduled date. Once we got that squared away, then the issue was about attendees and how many there could be. I was blessed with the Governor allowing a 25% capacity shortly before my ordination, which meant that I could have 100 attend. Then in that short time I had to make the hard decision of who to invite and who not to, after that I had to send out all the invitations with only a week or so to spare.  

It was very difficult trying to prepare spiritually for ordination and not being able to receive communion once I came back from Seminary since our churches were closed. Also, the devil didn’t give me any breaks leading up to that blessed day. But in the end, the good bishop laid his hands and me and I was ordained, so what does all that other stuff matter?

Would you be willing to share your vocation story with us?

I got the idea of becoming a priest when I was five. For some reason (grace) the idea stuck with me through middle school and even high school. I was blessed with a good youth program at my Church during that time and the retreats I went on and friendships I developed with other Catholic  kids who wanted to take their faith seriously greatly helped me foster my vocation to the priesthood.  I entered seminary right after highschool and the rest is history.

Quieten Your Heart to Listen

MCCW Worldwide Board discernment was scheduled to take place in early November to coincide with the rescheduled Forum. 

Despite having to cancel the event, it is important that the transition of leadership continues as planned. MCCW invites each of you to actively and prayerfully discern whether you are being called to serve on the Worldwide Board. 

Positions to be Discerned:

  • President
  • Director of Forum
  • Director of Finance
  • Director of Communications
  • Director at Large (1)

Dates for Discernment:

  • Personal Discernment Period — ongoing through the beginning of October 
  • Discernment Packets — due week of October 4, 2020
  • Virtual Group Discernment — on or about the week of November 1, 2020*

*Specific date and time will be determined based on the availability of those discerning

How to Learn More:

FAQs:

How long will newly discerned board members serve?

Board members discerned in November will serve through Spring 2022.

What is expected of MCCW board members?

MCCW is looking for women who are called, competent, and committed. Board members attend monthly virtual meetings, fulfill the specific duties of their position, and help set the strategic direction for MCCW. Go here to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of MCCW board members. 

How do I know if I am being called to serve? 

MCCW’s discernment process was created to guide you through a personal discernment process, followed by a group discernment process that will help you prayerfully consider if this is the time and place in which God is calling you to serve. Download the easy-to-use guide here

I’ve read this far, but I’m not sure what to do next.

If you have read this far, maybe God is nudging you to take the next step. Download the resources listed above and give them a read. Take a few days to let all the information “simmer” and ask God to help you know if you should take the next step of working through the personal discernment process. And let us know if you have questions. You can reach out to any member of the board (emails listed in the back of this issue of the Well) or email our Discernment Coordinator (discernment@mccw.org).

Never Without Purpose

Volunteers of the Month: Forum 2020 Team

What happens when you are asked to be part of the team planning a huge event that gets postponed, rescheduled, and then canceled? If you are part of the Forum 2020 planning team, you cheerfully plan, and then re-plan, the event before doing the added work of dismantling all you planned. 

As Forum Director Aly shared with the board, you accept it all with grace because the work we do, especially work for God’s kingdom, is never without purpose even if we can’t clearly see the good that comes from it.

This month, we’d like to publicly thank our amazing Forum 2020 team for all that hard work and grace!

Linda Coleman, Vendors: Linda reached far and wide to find the best Catholic merchants for us to shop at Forum. But don’t despair — we are working on plans to bring you a special virtual vendor fair in a future issue of the Well! 

Kristen Foss, Liturgist: Kristen has led the charge to coordinate all aspects of Forum liturgy from masses to reconciliation as well as planning optional daily devotions and coordinating the volunteers to make each of those events happen. And when we postponed Forum in the spring, Kristen stepped up to lead the Illuminated Rosary during our virtual Day of Reflection. 

Jackie Henderson, Liturgist Assistant: Coordinating music ministry and overseeing plans for optional active devotions (think exercise and prayer combined!), Jackie shared just a few of her many gifts with our planning team. We are also grateful for Jackie’s fun video posts in our MCCW Community, keeping the hype going.

Rebecca Lockhart, Logistics: Queen of the details and the master production schedule, Rebecca oversaw logistics planning for Forum 2020. Every aspect of Forum was finely tuned thanks to Rebecca’s amazing organizational skills. 

Michelle Macias, Hospitality: Quietly wrangling our San Antonio sisters in Christ into a decorating-directing-information-giving team, Michelle led the efforts to ensure that each of us felt welcome in our host city from the moment of our arrival until we headed home. 

A special thank goes to those members of the MCCW team who hold regular roles within the organization but went above and beyond supporting Forum: MCCW Graphic Designer Jean Dery, former Social Media Manager Anni Harry, Registrar Sue Parker, and Merchandise Manager Brenda Nonnweiler.