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,



Prayer and Support for our Promised Priests 

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

With the number of U.S. military Catholic chaplains at only 182, we must continue to support, in prayer and almsgiving, our Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) Co-Sponsored Seminarians.   MCCW offers multiple ways to show our love for these Promised Priests; those who discern a priestly vocation, and the vocation within a vocation to serve those who serve in the U.S. military.

MCCW members are invited to adopt a seminarian through their local chapel women’s ministry groups.   During the one-year adoption period, groups are asked to show support to their assigned seminarian by sending cards, emails, and care packages.   Additionally, offering mass on their adoptee’s birthday and dedicating a rosary or chaplet in the honor of their adoptee, during a weekly meeting, would be a perfect way to show prayerful support.   

Last year, due to the overwhelming number of chapel women’s ministry groups interested in adopting, all our AMS Co-Sponsored Priests were added to the list of adoptees.  

What is an AMS Co-Sponsored Priest, you may be asking?   After an AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarian is ordained a priest, in their home diocese, they are asked to serve their local diocese for three years to gain experience before becoming a U.S. military Catholic chaplain.  This spring, five seminarians–representing the Army, Air Force and Navy–were ordained priests. Remember, too, that our Navy chaplains serve both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.  

Aside from showing prayerful commitment, MCCW actively supports our perpetual charity, the AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarians, with financial contributions.  Our first-ever MCCW Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship was created and endowed last spring with an initial contribution of $50,000. This newly endowed scholarship will accomplish so much.  It will connect our members from around the globe to our effort to support seminarians, unite our financial contributions for even greater impact, and inspire future MCCW members to continue supporting our promised priests.  The seminarians who participate in the AMS Co-Sponsorship receive 50% of their tuition from their home diocese and 50% from the AMS.   

Making a contribution, in the honor of your assigned AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarian or Priest, would be a wonderful way to give alms and continue to support our MCCW perpetual charity.   Your contribution could be given on a monthly basis, as a one-time donation, or even by supporting silent auctions held at MCCW Retreats and Forum.  

The forming of a personal relationship between chapel women’s ministry groups and seminarians (or newly ordained priests), creates the opportunity to learn more about military life.  Through regular contact with military families, our promised priests will better understand the dynamics of life in a military family around the globe.    

To learn more about adopting a seminarian, please email Denise at amsliaison@nullmccw.org.     For information on contributing to our MCCW Endowed Scholarship, please visit: http://mccw.org/giving/seminarian-support/.  

Together we can make a difference in supporting our Promised Priests who answer the call to serve both God and Country.    

Finding Your Place

By Kim Miller

Finding yourself in a new hometown, on a new military installation is an experience we military women repeat many times. And finding your place in that new community is key to feeling settled. But what to do when finding that place in a new women’s ministry group doesn’t come easy? Here are some tips and resources to help you!

You’ve come from a thriving women’s ministry and you feel like your new group is lacking somehow….

  •   Figure out what is missing. Is it the people you miss or a particular prayer, devotion, or activity? Once you know what you are missing, you can make a plan to move forward.
  •   If it’s your friends you are missing, find out if your new ministry group has social events, girls night out events, or fellowship time during their normal meetings. Use this time to start making connections with new friends.
  •   If it is a particular devotion or activity you are missing, consider offering to lead that activity in your new group. Approach the leaders gently – your words should convey your genuine interest in helping and not your dissatisfaction with this group as it is.
  •   Be prepared to graciously accept a “no.” For any number of reasons, your offer may be denied. If this happens, be gracious and continue to give the group a chance. You may come to love this group in whole new ways by being patient with it.

You find out your new community has no women’s ministry!

  •       Talk to others in the chapel community and find out why there isn’t a ministry currently. You might find that the time is right to start one!
  •       Start with your chaplain! Find a few others who might be interested in helping start a group and set a time to visit with your chaplain. Share your ideas with him and ask for his ideas.
  •       Remember, a chaplain’s primary job in his chapel is to ensure that service members and their families have access to the sacraments. Consider how your new group can support tha. Does he need lectors? EMHCs? Could your group commit to attending First Friday mass or adoration to ensure that these programs have the attendance they need to continue? How will your group benefit the chapel community while helping your women grow in their faith?
  •       Be willing to start small. Growing a large, dynamic group takes time. Consider what your community needs and can support right now. Maybe it’s a monthly gathering with prayer and fellowship, maybe it’s a small book club, maybe it is three or four special gatherings a year. Be comfortable with planting the seeds and letting them grow as they should in your community.

You helped start (or grow!) an amazing group in your old community and now it’s time to leave.

  •   Recognize and accept that this will be a hard goodbye! It’s okay (and totally normal!) to feel sad and uncertain about leaving something you helped build.
  •   Prepare the next team for success. Leaving behind great after action reports, orderly files, and clear instructions for recurring programs will help those who come after you continue to build on your success. Check out the Think Local Sourcebook on www.MCCW.org for tips on creating great after action resources.
  •   Assure the new team that you will be available to them after you leave, if they want it! You can answer questions, offer suggestions, and share ideas with them when they ask, in order to help them continue the momentum the group had.
  •   Plan your exit. Figure out when your family will be leaving and plan ahead for the last time you will participate in an event with your women’s ministry. If there are formal goodbyes to be made, plan to do those then, but also save your personal goodbyes for then. Nothing is more emotionally draining than saying goodbyes over and over and over again.

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!

Be Brave in the Scared–Summer Reading Discussion Group

By Nancy Belmont

I didn’t want to read this book. When MCCW WW’s Director of Financial Stewardship, Elizabeth Tomlin, suggested we build an entire online summer book club around a former Navy wife’s account of caring for her disabled daughter, my face smiled and my head nodded, but I thought to myself, “This book? A beach read? Okay…well, Elizabeth knows Mary Lenaburg and she knows what she’s talking about, so I’ll trust her…” 

I ended up inhaling this volume in two days. It has all the suspense of a thrilling novel, the humor of chick lit, and the heart and soul of a deep devotional told within a genuine memoir. Mary thought she had the perfect life. She was in love with her successful military husband and they had created the ideal family, composed of two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. However, on the day of their infant daughter’s baptism, their life changed forever when Courtney began seizing uncontrollably. Mary prayed fervently over the course of the next week, begging grace and mercy from a God she viewed as a disciplinarian. 

While Courtney survived her first trial, an experimental treatment left her profoundly handicapped, and Mary felt guilty, afraid, and ashamed. Her husband, Jerry, pulled away and threw himself into work, grad school, and pornography while she turned to food for comfort. 

Read the book to learn how Mary and Jerry came to rely on God and each other to help them through their struggles. 

Mary told me, “Everybody’s got a Courtney. Everybody’s got a situation they are not in control of. Sometimes, your very best effort won’t change it.” 

Mary’s story is a journey towards surrender to God’s will and trust in His constant provision. Are you, in the words of Mary, “Carrying around a bunch of stuff you don’t need to be?”  

Do you know someone who is? Please join us for this book club, as we’ll learn together how to “be brave one breath at a time.”

Join us every Sunday starting on July 7 on MCCW’s public Facebook page, The Military Council of Catholic Women – MCCW-Worldwide. Mary has personally curated a devotional guide for us that contains deep questions and describes her story in more detail. We will read three chapters each week, discussing online for four weeks in row. Our study will culminate on Sunday, July 28 with a Facebook Live discussion event with Mary. Time to be determined, so stay tuned!

Forum 2020: Looking Forward

By Aly Tugaoen

As we continue to gather momentum for the Worldwide Forum 2020, I wanted to share with you information about the two Catholic churches we will be utilizing during our time together and to share with all of you a few other places of Catholic interest. 

The first church is St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish located at 623 East Commerce Street. It is a multi-cultural parish with a distinctly German flair. One example is their Stations of the Cross. Each station’s description is written in both English and German. This beautiful church is a quick 3-minute walk from our Forum hotel. 

The next site is St. Mary’s Catholic Church located at 202 North St. Mary’s Street. It is the second oldest church in San Antonio after San Fernando Cathedral and is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. It has been a beacon for the downtown community for almost 100 years. Its ornate décor is truly a visual inspiration. This stunning church is a short 12-minute walk from our Forum hotel.

There are a few other Catholic places of interest In the local San Antonio area you may want to visit. While we will not be officially visiting them during Forum, they are amazing places to add to your bucket list.

San Fernando Cathedral

Address: 115 Main Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205

The San Fernando Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of San Antonio and has three patron saints: The Virgin of Candelaria, the Virgin of Guadalupe and San Fernando.

The Oblate Grotto and Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Address: 5712 Blanco Rd, San Antonio, TX 78216

This grotto is considered to have the most accurate replica of the original shrine in Lourdes. There is also a replica of Tepeyac Hill in Mexico where Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower

Address: 1715 N Zarzamora, San Antonio, TX 78201

The Basilica was built during the Great Depression, following the 1925 canonization of St. Thérèse and was designated a Minor Basilica of the Catholic Church in 1998.

CWOC Fall Kick-Off Ideas and Resources

By Nancy Belmont

Greetings from New York, where my children just finished school on June 26. We may just be easing into summer here, but while I sink my toes in the sand, I’m thinking and planning for our next catechetical year. Faith study leaders, have you submitted your purchase orders for the fall? If you haven’t, here’s a “cheat sheet” filled with some of my favorite studies and exciting new publications.

Books for Studying the Mass

Living the Mass: How One Hour a Week Can Change Your Life  by Dominic Grassi  and Joe Paprocki

This accessible study explains each part of the Mass and invites readers to let the Mass influence each part of their lives. It offers practical guidance on living the liturgy throughout the week. 

A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do in the Liturgy by Dr. Edward Sri

This book explains the Mass more deeply by making connections between Scripture and the liturgy. 

For more enrichment, order the 5-part video study.  Each video is 30 minutes long. 

Bible Study Guides

Six Weeks with the Bible by Kevin Perrotta

This book series offers variety! Study different books of the Bible for six weeks at a time. These volumes are affordable and accessible but are also penetrating.

For Deep Thinkers

United States Catholic Catechism for Adults by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 

This easy-to-read catechism has a saint profile at the beginning of each chapter, discussion questions, meditations, prayers, and simplified guides to doctrinal statements. While is 36 chapters long, study leaders can break it into parts (for example, Part I, the Creed, is 13 chapters). This is an accessible way to learn the catechism in a group setting.


Rooted in Prayer

Dear Sisters in Christ,

As the moving trucks come and go in our neighborhood and my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of friends saying goodbye to one installation and setting out on new adventures, I have spent a lot of time thinking about transitions.

The usual piece of transition advice I give military family members I meet (and one I repeat to myself each time we PCS) is to find a place in your new community to jump in and get involved. And for many years now, that place for me has been with the women’s ministry in my community (as I know it is for many of you).

But I also know that it isn’t always easy — sometimes finding your place in a new women’s ministry group can be a downright rocky road. Leaving a dynamic group you love for a new one you aren’t sure about, arriving in a place that is thriving and feeling unsure of your place, or finding out that your new home doesn’t have a women’s ministry at all can all leave you feeling uncertain. And what about the transitions that happen in years you don’t move – changes brought about by new leaders or a new chaplain, being the one left behind when friends leave, or stepping into or out of a leadership role? All of these changes can bring challenges that may require you to step out of your comfort zone. 

My friend, Kelly, a longtime MCCW member and leader, always reminds me that these journeys need to begin with and be rooted in prayer. Pray that God will help you find the path He has for you, even if that isn’t the path you had in mind. 

We on the MCCW team will be praying for all of your transitions this summer and for all women’s ministries, the women who participate in them, and the chaplains who advise them to flourish this coming year.

We’ve filled this issue of The Well with lots of practical tips, resources, and ideas to help that happen. We’ve also included information about Forum 2020 – another great opportunity for filling your ministry toolbox!

I’ll be praying that each of you finds the path He has laid out for you this year!

Yours in Christ,