GRAFTON — "Mary, Queen of peace … here I am … show me the way!" was the theme of the 86th Annual Springfield Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (SDCCW) Convention held on Oct. 29 at Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center in Grafton, and hosted by the Jacksonville deanery SDCCW. More than 225 attended the convention.
"This is one of the largest conferences in years," said Brenda Rulo, Jacksonville deanery president. "It is a day of fun, friendship, making new acquaintances and sharing our love for Christ."
"We need to change the countenance on our faces," ValLimar Jansen said. The internationally known inspirational speaker, storyteller and vocalist repeated the words throughout the day as one of the convention presenters.
"We need to help our youth to change the world by sharing the knowledge that they are created in the image of God for God's purpose," Jansen continued, "We need a renewed sense of who we are as Roman Catholics and change the countenance on our faces." Jansen entertained as she shared her enthusiastic Catholic faith through storytelling and portrayal of biblical women such as Naomi from the Book of Ruth and Elizabeth, Mary's cousin and mother of John the Baptist.
Back by popular demand, Theresa Shank Grentz, a former U.S. Olympic coach, member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and author of Lessons Learned from Playing a Child's Game was the closing speaker for this year's convention.
"There were just a few major happenings in my life. One of those happenings was meeting the Apostles of the Interior Life," Grentz said. "I wanted what they had; I wanted their joy. I had never heard of spiritual direction before I had met these little sisters. It changed my life. I want you to enjoy life; I want you to laugh. I want you to go back to your parishes and tell them they are great."
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated Mass during the convention and was joined by SDCCW spiritual advisor, Msgr. John R. Ossola and several diocesan priests from the Jacksonville deanery and other areas of the diocese: Father Thomas C. Meyer, Father Donald Patrick Gibbons, Father Henry C. Schmidt, Father Don J. Roberts and Father Pat Gerard Jakel.
During the Mass, Bishop Paprocki presided over the installation of new officers. Outgoing SDCCW president, Alma Frohock (2012-2014) transferred the president's gavel to in-coming president, Carolyn Munie. Other officers being installed were Mary Ann Scopel and Marilyn More.
In his homily, Bishop Paprocki told the assembly, "Being around others who share the same love for God and a desire to be with him and one another forever is a great gift. It is also an opportunity to be re-energized as you bring that love back to your parishes and families so that all of the faithful of our diocese might join with you in more eagerly working for the coming of the Kingdom. In a particular way, we turn to the greatest woman the world has ever known, our Blessed Mother. Aside from God, she is our greatest source of support on this pilgrimage. We strive to imitate her single-minded dedication to following her Son and keeping her eyes always fixed on that gate that leads to eternal happiness.'
Other highlights of the convention included special thanks to Mgsr. Ossola for celebrating 50 years as a priest and 39 years as spiritual advisor for SDCCW. A lunch presentation was given by one of the 2014 SDDCW Catholic Female High School Leadership Scholarship winners, Maria Climaco of Arcola. Attendees also enjoyed gift bags and a silent auction.
The 2015 SDCCW convention will be held in Paris.