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. 

 

Honoring Those Past and Present

By: Denise Hummel, Forum Awards and Recognition Chair

Every two years, MCCW recognizes the time, talents, and treasures of women who lovingly serve our organization.  Two women who have gone before us and significantly impacted the formation of MCCW are Sheila Baker and Mary Ann Ernst.  

The Sheila Baker Award recognizes women who have given outstanding achievement and selfless service to the worldwide organization of MCCW.  The Mary Ann Ernst Regional Award highlights women who have served with harmony both in their local CWOC community and their respective MCCW Region. 

We look forward to gathering nominations and announcing our 2020 award recipients.  The links below will provide the Google form for nominations.  Please remember the deadline to submit is September 15, 2020.  

 

 

 

 

Six AMS Priests Ordained

By: Denise Hummel, Director at Large, Seminarian Support

Over the summer, six co-sponsored seminarians received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. These young priests are now ordained as Archdiocese for the Military Services co-sponsored priests.  Despite the pandemic and, in some cases, the postponement of their original ordination date, they have said “yes” to serving both God and country. May they know of our prayers for each of them as they begin this next-step to serving as promised priests.  

Join me in praying for these men:

Priestly Ordination

  • Tyler Harris 5 June
  • Daniel Duplantis 6 June
  • Steven Booth 13 June
  • Tim Mergen 26 June
  • Miguel Flores-Perez 27 June
  • Adam Marchese 25 July 

We continue to support our seminarians with prayers and financial contributions to the Military Council of Catholic Women Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship.  Stay tuned for an announcement sharing creative ways we may continue to support MCCW’s perpetual charity.    

*photo provided courtesy of the AMS

 

God Sustains

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Five months ago, when the impact of the coronavirus pandemic first began to be felt in the United States, I don’t think most of us thought we would still be in the thick of it at the end of summer. 

Our board surely didn’t! Because of that, we pursued plans to hold our Fall retreats in Europe and Asia and voted to reschedule Forum for this Fall. Unfortunately, as we all know too well, we are still in the midst of this crisis. After much prayer and deliberation, our team made the prayerful and prudent decision to cancel both the Asian Regional Retreat and Forum 2020. 

These decisions, along with the many choices so many of us are making about school for our children, when to return to Mass, how to celebrate special family occasions, and just generally how to go about our daily lives, are not easy. They are decidedly difficult and I know many of us are feeling weary of this. 

I had the chance to share a meal with a few of our MCCW sisters last week. Each of us shared the challenges we are facing during these hard times. In sharing one another’s struggles, we found comfort. Later when I was reflecting on that, God offered me His comfort, too. 

I was reminded of the many times in the Bible when our scriptural brothers and sisters had to endure hard things for far longer than they anticipated. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, I doubt any of them expected the forty-year journey ahead of them. And when Jesus ascended into Heaven and the angels assured His apostles He would return just as He had left, I don’t think they would have been thinking in the thousands of years. 

But in every instance, God provides His love and wisdom to sustain His followers. And He does the same for us today as we navigate this pandemic. 

Your MCCW Worldwide Board is relying on that love and wisdom as we plan for the future. Exciting things are on the horizon for MCCW: planning for our other regional retreats continues in earnest; new ways to virtually connect, unite, and inspire you are being developed; and we will have exciting announcements in the coming months about Forum 2022, as well as updated Faith Formation resources!

Our team is deeply saddened by the cancellation of the Asian Regional Retreat and Forum 2020. We were looking forward to connecting and uniting with you and we were overjoyed at the idea of being inspired by our speakers and by opportunities to worship together. But like the Israelites wandering the desert, we, too, shall be sustained until we can be together again. 

Yours in Christ,

Kim Miller

 

Forum 2020 Canceled

For the first time in MCCW history, we have been forced to cancel our biennial Forum event. COVID-19 has proven to be a bigger challenge to contain than first thought. Our hopes of being able to execute this event have come to a halt.

There were three key questions that the board needed to discuss as we looked at the re-scheduled Forum event in November.

  • Do we feel like we can plan a quality event given COVID-19 restrictions, or any others, that are/may be in place in November?
  • Are we willing to assume the risks (financial/health/safety) of moving forward with an event at this time?
  • Do we feel confident that women will attend the event given the various restrictions that are/may be in place in November, to include mandatory quarantine in their home locations at the conclusion of Forum?

While I believe that a quality event could still have happened, given some of the changes our host facility and speakers were willing to make, there were just too many other unknown variables. Texas has placed some specific restrictions on large gatherings that had a direct effect on our ability to celebrate daily mass within any of the three beautiful churches we were planning to use. From a safety perspective, the health of our attendees would be in jeopardy and that was a risk we were unwilling to take. With each state enacting its own rules regarding quarantine upon entering its borders, we recognized that a mandatory quarantine upon return from Forum would also disrupt the family dynamic for many of the attendees.

Throughout this entire process, I have leaned on a popular bible verse: Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you – plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”

I trusted in God’s plan for Forum from the beginning and prayed that the things we were planning would bring glory and honor to Christ and the MCCW mission to connect, unite and inspire Catholic military-affiliated women around the world. If the past two years has reinforced anything, it is that God’s timing is perfect. And, while I am disappointed that we will not be able to meet this year (because that’s the only time I get to see some of you), I trust that what we did here is not in vain.

There is a purpose to what we have spent the past two years doing. Although we may not see the fruit of it now, it was all for the glory of God in the end. I truly feel that when we are aligned towards the will of God, we appreciate God’s plan. We may not like it or understand it, but it does make the pill a bit easier to swallow.

Peace and Aloha,
Aly Tugaoen
Director of Forum 2020

Summer Book Club: Week Five Links Now Live

Join us as we discuss how to reinvigorate your women’s ministry after social isolation due to COVID-19. One of the biggest issues currently facing our chapel groups is re-launching after extended social distancing and loss of momentum. Let’s re-build better, taking the time to strategize how to refresh our ministries, strengthen personal connections, and improve outreach.

The MCCW Summer Book Club study launches next week on Sunday, June 28, so be sure to order your book now.  Use coupon code “MCCWBOOK”  to receive 25% off your order at avemariapress.com.

Our lineup will include weekly video releases from the author followed by open Zoom Q&A on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EST.  All content will be published to Facebook.  The weekly video presentations will be posted to the public MCCW Facebook page, our website, and the MCCW YouTube channel.  We encourage you to share these videos within your groups and with your Catholic military friends.  

The Wednesday weekly discussions will be hosted live on Zoom and shared with our private MCCW Facebook group.  In order to participate, you will need a Zoom account or you can view the discussion without participating by joining our Facebook group.  We also ask that chapel groups and leaders consider hosting watch parties on Facebook for anyone within your group. Due to technology platform limitations, the discussion with Q&A will not be available on YouTube or our website.  We apologize for any inconvenience. 

Links to the weekly discussion guides provided by author Elizabeth Tomlin will be available on our website and social media on Wednesdays after the Zoom Q&A for the week ahead.  The info for week 1 will release on June 24, 2020.

If you have any questions please contact Nancy Belmont, Director of Faith Formation via email.