One for the History Books
The New Year brings new things as well as the renewal of things past. During the next few months, several of our MCCW Regions will be gathering again for the first time in four years.
You may recall that in 2021 each region held its own virtual event and then all came together for Mass via Zoom with Archbishop Broglio at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Massachusetts. I was visiting upstate New York at the time and was privileged to be asked to be the Lector for the Mass. Due to COVID restrictions, only Patti Ramos, NE Regional Coordinator, was allowed to attend. There were more people on the altar than in the pews.
Over the history of MCCW, women from chapel ministries have gathered in various configurations to be together to share their faith, to support each other, and to exchange ideas. This has been more easily accomplished in some areas and regions than others.
When I was first involved with MCCW, while living in Europe in the late 70s, there were 13 well-established MCCW-Europe Areas. Half of the areas were in Germany, while others were in Italy, UK, Netherlands, Turkey, Spain, and Iceland. Women traveled many miles and, in some cases, many days to reach the annual Europe Conference which was 6 days long at that time. Meanwhile, the 13 Areas held smaller gatherings for speakers, retreats, and days of reflections. These events were usually two to four times a year for their chapel groups and were mostly within driving distance. My time as Stuttgart Area President during two different assignment periods prepared me for my return to the States.
MCCW-USA, which was still a separate organization at the time, had only four areas (NE, SE, Central and Western.) Due to the great distances involved, these areas had varying degrees of success in functioning. My first involvement with MCCW-USA was the Northeast Area conference held in Carlisle, PA in 1985. It may have been the only one held that year. At the national conference the following year in Denver, a major effort was made to revive the operation of the area level of MCCW throughout the United States. It was then that I served as Western Area Coordinator for the first time, and then I again served in that position two more times in subsequent decades. The Western Area included 10 states, plus Alaska and Hawaii – later Hawaii became its own area.
When the Europe and USA organizations merged into MCCW Worldwide in 2005, Europe became one of its regions, thus changing the entire structure. The four continental regions remained the same, but we have since added an Asia Region to include Japan, Korea, Guam and other Islands, while Alaska and Hawaii combined to become the Pacific Region. We now have seven Regions, each organizing a Regional Retreat for its chapels every other year (Europe continues annually). Any woman may attend any of the Regional Retreats.
If we ever venture into outer space, I am sure MCCW will reach for the moon and establish a new region there. Until then, consider uniting with other women in your local region, or even attend a regional retreat in another region, to continue weaving part of the rich tapestry of history within the ministry of MCCW.
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