Fall Book Club Suggestions

From Forum speakers Jennifer Fulwiler and Katie Prejean

By Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation

I am trying to “live the dream” now. I’m determined, to paraphrase St. Catherine of Siena, to be who God meant me to be so I can set the world on fire. I’m becoming this person as I shuttle my middle schooler to football practice, write papers for grad school, order religious education curriculum, and put writing articles for The Well on the back burner while I hose out nasty potty seats (true story!). 

In my downtime, I love to unwind with spiritual memoirs, encouraging tales of the soldiers of the church militant, striving to live lives of integrity and purpose amidst the temptations and frustrations of the world. 

One Beautiful Dream

Jennifer Fulwiler, one of our speakers for Forum 2020, describes the struggle for holiness and wholeness in her memoir One Beautiful Dream. Jennifer’s book posits, Is it possible to pursue your passions, love your family, and not feel guilty about wanting to do both?Spoiler alert: Jennifer is discovering that the answer is, “yes,” but the journey is circuitous and not what she would have planned, but it is gloriously grace-filled.

I became acquainted with Jennifer through her honest and humorous blog which chronicles her life as a mom of six, writer, and comedian. I also read her first book, Something Other Than God, which is no light-hearted spiritual romp, but a thoughtful, well-reasoned account of her atheist to Catholic conversion. This fall, I plan to delve into One Beautiful Dream and ponder how my own beautiful, messy dream aligns with God’s joyous plans for me. 

Room 24: Adventures of a New Evangelist

As the new school year begins, I’m also excited to read Forum speaker Katie Prejean’s memoir about her experience as a new teacher at her Catholic alma mater, Room 24: Adventures of a New Evangelist. Like anyone armed with a degree, good intentions, and a plan, Katie enters the classroom determined to increase her students’ understanding of God. Of course, it’s not that easy! 

I’m interested to read how Katie’s career developed into a ministry as her successes and failures led her to “evangelize young people by building relationships in joyful, humble, and prayerful ways.” 

We must always realize that, despite our best efforts, it’s the Holy Spirit that does the convincing and converting. Most importantly, we must avail ourselves of the Spirit so He can work through us. When we cooperate with Him, He can transform us, our work, and those around us most fully.

Katie also wrote books for teens, including Follow: Your Lifelong Adventure with Jesus, a practical guide for teens to grow in their relationship with Our Savior, and the devotional Lent: One Day at a Time for Catholic Teens.

All Things Forum 2020

By Aly Tugaoen, Director of Forum

Aloha from beautiful Hawaii!

The MCCW board and the Forum planning team have been prayerfully planning Forum 2020 and are so excited to share our plans with you in this special issue of The Well!  

Our mission has been to create an experience that will connect you to the resources that MCCW offers; to unite you with new friends while reuniting you with friends from the past; and to inspire you to fully live your Catholic faith no matter your duty location or place within your personal faith journey.  

We look forward to leaving behind the distractions of our everyday lives, if only for a short time, to renew our FIAT to Christ’s Church.  While we modeled the theme of this year’s event on Mary’s Fiat to the Angel Gabriel in Luke 1:38, the church is filled with countless examples of saints who repeatedly said “yes” to the Lord, apostles who were martyred for their faith, and the inspirational causes for the canonization of everyday military servants of the Lord in Chaplain Emil Kapaun and Chaplain Vincent Capodanno. 

Our FIAT to Christ is not a “one and done.”   It is a choice we make each day, sometimes each hour, to live our lives as Catholic women in this world but not of this world.  I sincerely hope that this time with your fellow Sisters in Christ, our keynote speakers, and with our beloved AMS priests and seminarians will leave you refreshed and eager to continue serving in your vocation as wives, mothers and/or service members, and as members of your chapel groups worldwide. 

Read on for highlights about the Forum location, schedule, registration, and more. 

See you in San Antonio!

Location Highlights

Forum 2020 will be held at the beautiful Marriott Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, a city rich in military and Catholic history. Located at 889 E. Market St., the hotel is steps from the famed Riverwalk, where attendees will have opportunities for dining and shopping. During the weekend, we will worship in two historic churches in downtown San Antonio — St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Church. We will also have a front-row seat for San Antonio’s biggest annual celebration, Fiesta.

Schedule Highlights*

Here’s a sneak peek at what we have in store for you at Forum 2020:

Thursday, April 23
Friday, April 24
  • Daily Mass at St. Joseph’s
  • Special guest speaker: AMS co-sponsored seminarian
  • Two exciting keynote addresses 
  • Regional breakout sessions
  • MCCW signature program: Illuminated Rosary
  • Dinner on your own at San Antonio’s Riverwalk 
Saturday, April 25
Sunday, April 26
  • Closing Mass at St. Mary’s 
  • Installation of new MCCW board members
  • Forum will close at 10 a.m. 

We don’t want you to miss even one minute of the fun, formation, and fellowship. For departing air travel we recommend not booking flights before 1 p.m. on Sunday.

*Schedule subject to minor changes


Here’s the scoop on meals during Forum:


With the exception of Sunday morning, all breakfast times are on your own.  We know some love a good hearty breakfast, while some just prefer a cup of coffee to get the day going.  Breakfast times are meant for you to do what works best for you and there are several dining options in and around the hotel that will accommodate all breakfast tastes. On Sunday morning, we will have a hearty sack breakfast option, complete with hot breakfast sandwiches. 


All lunchtimes are also on your own. To allow you time to enjoy all that the Riverwalk has to offer and not feel rushed by Fiesta visitors, we have allotted extra time for lunch each day. Upon checking-in at Forum, you will receive a list of dining options in the vicinity that range from sit-down restaurants to quick self-service/fast food locations. The delicious hotel restaurant offers you one more convenient option. 

Snacks and Coffee Break

 On the opening night of Forum, light refreshments will be served prior to our first keynote address.  During the course of the weekend, coffee and tea breaks will also be provided. 


Thursday and Friday night dinners will be a great opportunity for you to explore the many dining options available on the Riverwalk and in downtown San Antonio. Because it is Fiesta time, we encourage you to gather up your friends and make advance dining reservations. We will also have opportunities to sign up for group meals (pay-as-you-go) pre-reserved by MCCW. On Saturday night, we will provide our traditional three-course banquet dinner on our final night together.  


The two-step Forum registration process will open September 16. To begin registration, visit www.mccw.org/forum2020 and follow the links to EventBrite. You will use EventBrite to purchase your Forum tickets. Be sure to know if you will be paying or if your chapel will be subsidizing your Forum attendance before you begin registration and be careful to read all the online information for further instructions. 

Hotel reservations for Forum are separate from the purchase of your Forum tickets.  All attendees must make their reservations directly with the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk.  

Reservations can be made by phone under the room block “MCCW Forum.” An even easier way to reserve your room for Forum is to visit https://book.passkey.com/go/MCCW2020 to be taken directly to our event page on the hotel’s website.  

The room block includes rooms with double beds. The room rate for all room types is $179.00 per night plus all applicable room fees and taxes. This rate is available for three nights before and after Forum. The cutoff for booking under the room block is April 1, 2020. 

Internet Access

The Marriott Riverwalk has complimentary internet available to  Marriott Bonvoy members. Bonvoy is a free rewards program, so don’t forget to sign up and bring your number to Forum.

The MCCW board looks forward to welcoming all of you to San Antonio in April 2020.

San Antonio or Bust: Nine Tips for Getting to Forum 2020

So, now you that you are excited about coming to Forum 2020, let’s figure out how to get you there!

Asking for Chapel Support

  • Ask often and early: If you are hoping for financial support from your chapel, remember to approach your chaplain, chapel funds manager, or other chapel staff early 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. 
  • Ask for a Designated Offering: If your chapel isn’t able to support attendance at Forum directly, ask if your chapel would be able to take a designated offering for the purpose of sending women to Forum. This can be a great way to get the whole chapel community involved. 
  • Offer to bring back and share the resources you receive: Each attendee at Forum will receive a faith formation toolkit with 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 like summer camp and share your room to stretch your budget dollars. 
  • Put it on your Christmas list: This may sound silly, but it’s all about priorities! What do you want to find wrapped up under your Christmas tree this year (or get for your birthday)? If it is Forum tickets, then that helps you set it as a priority. 

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 attend Forum. Your prayers and encouragement may be just what they need.  

Volunteer of the Month: Rebecca Lockhart

This month we are recognizing Rebecca Lockhart as MCCW’s volunteer of the month. Rebecca stepped up a year ago to lead the Central Region. Starting nearly from scratch, she built a hardworking team who planned an amazing retreat at Conception Abbey in March. Her enthusiasm, energy, and attention-to-detail impressed everyone so much that before she even arrived home after the retreat, we recruited her to head up logistics for Forum 2020. 

With characteristic energy and enthusiasm, she has jumped into that role, attending teleconference call after teleconference call to become familiar with all aspects of Forum. Her insight and ideas have already had an impact on the planning process. And the Forum team is all eagerly awaiting the debut of the Forum Production Schedule that will keep everyone on track and organized before, during, and after the event. 

When you arrive at Forum in April, you may not see obvious evidence of Rebecca’s work, but without knowing it, you will see her organized, dedicated fingerprints on everything you do that weekend! 

Thanks, Rebecca!

All Roads Lead to San Antonio for Forum 2020

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Seventeen short months ago, we said goodbye in San Diego at the conclusion of an amazing four-day, ocean-front Forum. No sooner had we all unpacked our suitcases than planning for Forum 2020 began. 

What started as some ideas and dreams in an initial brainstorming session has grown into the exciting event we are opening for registration this month! 

And we are so excited to share this Forum with you!

From the beautiful theme of Fiat, based on Luke 1:38, to the amazing keynote and guest speakers who will stir your hearts with their words; from the front-row-seat venue for San Antonio’s Fiesta to the historic churches where we will worship, we are confident this will be a weekend you won’t soon forget. 

Forum is truly an event for everyone and I want to encourage YOU to join us in San Antonio. As I have shared at each of the retreats I’ve attended in the past year, I know how hard it is to take time away from your family, your home, your work and responsibilities. 

But I also know — because I experience it at every MCCW event I attend — this time you take for your relationship with Christ is worth it! It is time for you to grow in faith and deepen your love for our Savior. It is time for you to reflect and pray and fellowship away from the distractions of daily life. (It is also time for you to attend mass without also feeling like you are engaged in a WWF-style wrestling match with your littles — worth the price of admission on its own!)

As an added bonus to all the gifts you will receive by attending, you will also be taking back valuable tools, lessons, and activities you can put to use in your chapel community — each attendee will go home with a Faith Formation toolkit based on the Forum schedule!

I want for each of you to have all of those opportunities with us in April. So, take the time to pray about attending. Have that conversation with your husband about making it a priority, with your in-laws about coming out to help with the kids, and with your chapel about potential opportunities to subsidize your attendance. Heck, put it on your Christmas list if that helps make it a reality!

The MCCW team and I will be praying for you and looking forward to welcoming you to San Antonio next year!

Yours in Christ,


Our Promised Priests

By: Denise Hummel

MCCW Director at Large: Seminarian Support

Our AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarians have been called to serve both God and country — “a vocation within a vocation.”  Their individual and personal vocation stories are wonderful examples of ways we get to see God’s love and mercy shared with His faithful.  

As our calendars are marked for Forum 2020, know, too, that Seminarian David Chacko has been invited to share his experiences with all of us during our time together in San Antonio.  Last January, I had the privilege of meeting David and he looks forward to meeting all of you next April.  

Additionally, during our time together, we will have our annual Promised Priest Silent Auction.  Each region will be invited to create thematic baskets, from their own region, to have featured at our silent auction.   The monies raised will benefit our Military Council of Catholic Women Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship. This newly endowed scholarship continues the tradition of financially supporting our perpetual charity–AMS co-sponsored seminarians.   

In the meantime, as many of our Catholic women’s ministry groups are beginning their new year, MCCW invites you to adopt one of the many AMS co-sponsored seminarians.  Please complete this new Google form so our records may be updated. If you were currently adopting last year, you may note that on the form as well. Click here to complete the Google form. 

Thank you for the continued prayers for our promised priests.  We look forward to sharing more details over the coming months for our silent auction at Forum. Please begin to create a vision for your region’s thematic basket and be prepared to showcase your region at Forum 2020.  

A Promised Priest’s Mother Shares part 2

A Promised Priest’s Mother Shares: An Interview with Susan Yakkel Part Two

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

Last month, I introduced our MCCW readers to Mrs. Susan Yakkel and shared her expertise as a promised priest’s mother.  This month, my interview with Susan continues ……

My husband, Ron,  served almost 29 years in the U.S. Air Force.  Together we have three children, Amber, Chris and Stevie.  Amber, the oldest, is married and has three children. Fr. Chris is the middle child.  Stevie is our youngest. We reside in Xenia, Ohio, near Dayton and Wright-Patterson AFB, where Ron taught at a defense institute for several years as a civilian after military retirement.

I can’t really pinpoint an exact year when Chris felt called to the priesthood.  He’s always been a very prayerful child, but it wasn’t until his college years that he began meeting with a priest and started the discernment process.  It was at that time, Chris shared with us his calling to be a priest but he was still unsure. After his first year of college, he went to World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, which also had an impact on him.  He graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and joined NET Ministries for two years. NET Ministries is an organization that challenges young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church. During this time, Chris continued to discern his call to the priesthood.   Through his prayers and his prayer intercession to St. John Capistrano, patron saint of military chaplains, Chris noted a few signs that directed him to his vocation as a military chaplain.  

None of us were aware that to be a military chaplain, you must first be a priest within a religious order or a diocese; a vocation within a vocation.  Chris actually contacted the Vocations Director for the AMS at that time, Fr. Kerry Abbott. Fr. Abbott directed Chris in the process and from there, Chris began the process of entering the seminary, the Pontifical College Josephinum.  Archbishop Timothy Broglio and Fr. Kerry Abbott were very instrumental in helping Chris.

Since Chris grew up as a “military brat” moving from one base to another, he was familiar with base chapels and priests who were military chaplains.  He always felt called to serve the military as a chaplain.

For the next three years, Chris will be in his home Diocese of Columbus.  He will be serving as a Parochial Vicar at the Perry County Consortium, four parishes in Ohio:  St. Rose of Lima in New Lexington; Church of the Atonement in Crooksville; St. Patrick in Junction City; and St. Bernard in Corning.  After his three years, he will serve active duty in the Air Force and is open to any assignment. For the next three years, he will be serving in the Air Force Reserves as well.  He is awaiting orders to Ramstein Air Base for his summer Air Force Reserve assignment.

May God continue to bless those who serve a vocation within a vocation; serving both God and Country.  

Finding Your Place part 2

Last month we explored how to make transitions in or out of your community and your women’s ministry easier and less bumpy. But sometimes you will find yourself in a time of transition in years in which you don’t move. Here are some tips for those times.

You held a leadership role in the past, but this year you aren’t part of the leadership team.

  •   Reframe your role to that of a mentor. Helpful, encouraging mentors are a valuable asset for any women’s ministry team!
  •   Leave the new team with complete after-action documents and a thorough transition period to help them succeed. Give time for the outgoing leaders to work with the incoming leaders to share information, answer questions, and offer support.
  •   Know when it is time to step back.  After a thorough transition, be ready to pull back and let the new team do their thing. They may not do things the way you would have done, but they need time and space to find their own way of doing things.
  •   Practice redirection! If you were in a very visible leadership role, people may still come to you with questions, comments, or concerns. Help empower the new team by redirecting these inquiries to the new leaders.
  •   Above all, be a cheerleader for the new team. Keep the thoughts of what you would do differently to yourself and commit yourself to encouraging and building up the new leaders!

You have a new chaplain with new ideas about women’s ministry.

  •   Be open. New ideas aren’t automatically bad ideas so be open to what your new chaplain is recommending. Make time and space for this open dialog by scheduling a time(s) for your women’s ministry leadership to visit with the new chaplain.
  •   Respect his role. The women’s ministry programs in our chapel communities exist at the discretion of our chaplains, who have the ultimate authority over them. Respect that your chaplain (or your installation chaplain) sets the priorities for programs and funding, and that your group will have to operate within those parameters.
  •   Find common ground. Remember the first priority of our chaplains is to see that service members and their families have access to the sacraments. How can your ministry assist with that? Finding this common ground will allow you to work closely with your chaplain to achieve his priorities while giving him the opportunity to get to know your group.
  •   Be positive. Change can be hard for your group. Set the example of a positive attitude in the face of a new direction. This positive attitude will do more for your group and your chapel community than you can know.

Looking for more tips and resources to help you start, grow, or lead your women’s ministry? Check out the Think Local Sourcebook at www.mccw.org for a complete guide!

CWOC Summer Transition

In this season of transition, several CWOC chapters have taken the summer off to recharge and plan for the new year.  If you are transitioning into a new community, be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming CWOC events and socials currently being planned by CWOC boards across the world.

If you find yourself at a new installation and you cannot find information about a CWOC, please speak with your chaplains.  Several phenomenal groups unfortunately have not yet found leadership and you might just have an opportunity to pick up where the last board left off.  

We are always accepting photos and information about local CWOC events to mention on social media or in our newsletter.  You can submit to comms@nullmccw.org.

It’s Just That Time of Year

Dear Sisters in Christ,

When I called my parents recently for one of my weekly calls home, they asked what we had been up to lately. 

My answer read like an insane social calendar: “So and so came over for dinner on Friday because they are still waiting on household goods, and Saturday we went to a welcome BBQ, and Sunday we met friends who just moved here at a favorite local place, and, and, and….” I ended my reply by saying, “It’s just that time of year here!”

Military life is seasonal and cyclical, isn’t it? We are (hopefully) all through the summer PCS season and heading into the “welcome and start of a new year” season. We do welcomes well in the military — see the moving truck, introduce ourselves, and assure the new neighbors you can help if they need a can opener, wine opener, dentist recommendation, emergency contact for their kids or any of the 400 other things we all need when we move. 

Galatians 6:10 reminds us, “So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.”

While we are busy welcoming all the new families to our communities, let’s not forget what an opportunity this time of year affords us to do good to those who belong to our family of faith.  We can seek out the new family who stood to introduce themselves at the beginning of mass or invite a friend, new or old, to join our women’s ministry group. 

In your women’s ministry groups, remember to catch up not only with the friends you haven’t seen all summer, but to invite someone new to join your table or to sit with you in mass. Ministry leaders, as you plan for kick-off events remember you have a special opportunity to set welcoming tone for your whole group!

(For tips and ideas on how to make your CWOC or women’s ministry more welcoming to all, check out MCCW’s sourcebook.)

And, while you have the welcome wagon rolled out, don’t forget to invite the new women in your community to get connected, united, and inspired with MCCW! We have three great retreats coming up this fall (in Tennessee, Italy, and Korea), a vibrant online community, and we will soon be launching registration for Forum 2020!  

We can’t wait to say, “Welcome!” to you sometime soon!

Yours in Christ,