Spirituality Commission Conference Call

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations Annual Day of Prayer

The Conference Call opened with the Reflection and Prayer for the WUCWO Annual Day of Prayer by Patty Johnson, NCCW Spirituality Commission Chair.   This can be found on the WUCWO web site at www.wucwo.org under the prayer link.

WUCWO International Day.  Prepared by Velma Harasen, Regional Vice President for North America
Heavenly Father, teach us your ways of peace and love.  Teach us tolerance, gratitude, forgiveness and the power of Justice.  Holy Spirit of Love we ask for peace in our hearts, our families, our communities, peace within our countries.  Bring an end to violence, terrorism, racism, oppression and abuse. Melt our hearts and remove all resentment, greed, vindictiveness and bitterness.  Amen.

Patty Johnson led the call and introduced Maribeth Stewart, the NCCW Representative to WUCWO who will also speak on the call.
The World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations was founded in 1910 and touches over 5 million women across the world in every walk of life.

Aims of WUCWO:
Promote the presence, participation and co-responsibility of Catholic women in society and Church, in order to enable them to fulfill their mission of evangelization and to work for human development; promote formation of women to meet contemporary challenges; foster awareness and respect of cultural diversity; promote the international dimension within member organizations; coordinate activities of bodies; network with other international organizations and faith communities for the respect of human rights, especially for women; encourage ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

Implementation of the priorities established at WUCWO General Assemblies by the Board, commissions and Working Groups, and by national affiliates in the 5 regions of WUCWO.  Act to maintain WUCWO’s concern for (a) women and human rights, (b) violence against women; (c) women and education.  Acting in the permanent Commissions (5) Family, Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue; Human Rights; Women in Church; Development/Cooperation and (4) International: Finance, Constitution and Procedures; Spirituality and Liturgy.  Plan Regional Conferences and Study Days which implement the priorities of the General Assemblies.

Official Publication:  “Women’s Voice”- newsletter 3-4 times a year in French, Spanish and English. 

Notes from Maribeth’s Part of the Call:


1.  Look at this as a three step pyramid:  One block on top, two blocks in the middle, and two blocks on the bottom
Top single block is the General Assembly composed of all Member Organisations- including our NCCW
One of the middle blocks is the Board elected from and by the General Assembly:  Max. of 27 board members and a country can only field one representative.   
The other middle block is the Executive Committee elected from the Board by the Board made up of the President General, Vice President General, Sec. and Treasurer Generals, 5 VP’s of regions and an Ecclesiastical Assistant who is appointed by the Vatican.
The bottom two blocks are not people but Committees and Working Groups.  Each Board member must belong to one committee (Finance, International, Statutes and Procedures, and Communications) and to one working group which were just decided for this mandate to be: Family, Youth, and Suffering of the World.  

B.  PONTIFICAL STATUS:  Founded in 1910, WUCWO has been a strong supporter of the Holy See for over a century.  In 2006, WUCWO was raised to the status of a Public International Association of the Faithful. This canonical status honours the efforts of faithful Catholic women active in our Union at the parish, diocesan, national and international levels. It also ensures that we are very careful that when we speak or write as WUCWO, we adhere completely and clearly to the Magisterium of the Church.

C.  INTERNATIONAL:  WUCWO has a strong presence and voice at several important international fora to include having representatives at the United Nations in New York, UNESCO in Paris, the Human Rights Council in Geneva, The Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, and at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.  Our WUCWO International Representatives work hard to support the Holy See Missions in place at those international bodies and to ensure that the position of the Church is heard.

You heard me say that there are five Regional VP’s on the Executive.  Each represents one “WUCWO region” of the world for WUCWO divides the world into 5 regions which are Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America.  I’m going to tell you briefly about membership from each region so you can get an idea of how our NCCW fits into the picture and where its fellow member organisations are located.  
Africa currently has 31 member organisations from Burundi to Zambia with nearly every African nation represented.  They hold 10 seats on the Board.
Asia-Pacific has 9 countries and is a huge region encompassing South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and India.  They hold 4 Board seats.
Europe has 19 countries with 31 organisations.  Countries we would expect such as organisations from France, the UK, Malta, etc. But of note are some countries that were behind the Iron Curtain that have organisations joining us now such as from the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Hungary.  Europe has 4 Board seats this mandate.
Latin America Region has 11 member organisations from 4 countries to include 2 member organisations from Cuba.  They hold 4 Board seats.
North America Region is composed of 5 member organisations from the USA and Canada.  We hold 2 Board seats.

All member organisations are called to come together in General Assembly (GA) every four years.  Study days are held, usually to explore the theme of the General Assembly, followed by Statutory Days where By-laws are amended, a new Board is elected, a theme for the next mandate of 4 years is selected, resolutions are agreed upon and a Final Declaration is issued.  Recent General Assemblies have been held in Arlington, VA in 2006, Jerusalem in 2010 (WUCWO’s Centennial Year), and last October in Fatima, Portugal.  Mid-way between General Assemblies, each region is asked to have a Regional Conference.  North America’s last Regional Conference was in 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, FL immediately following the NCCW’s Convention there.  Our NCCW women attending the GA’s and Regional Conferences have always proved to be of great help as they willingly offer to serve in many capacities during those meetings.

F.  FRIENDS:  Another blessed connection that we enjoy between WUCWO and our NCCW is our Friends of NCCW for WUCWO, Inc.  FRIENDS is a nonprofit organization whose objectives are to educate all interested Catholic people regarding WUCWO and to provide opportunities to support the programs and projects of WUCWO, the WUCWO North American Region and the NCCW representative to WUCWO.
Friends was originally established in 2002 to help support the 2003 WUCWO North American Regional Conference (preceding the NCCW Convention in Minneapolis) and subsequently the 2006 WUCWO General Assembly which was held in Arlington, Virginia and the North American Regional Conference held in Fort Lauderdale FL in 2013.  A General Business meeting for the membership is held during all NCCW conventions. They currently have annual dues of $25 per year.

G.  OUR PAST NCCW CONNECTIONS WITH WUCWO:  Karen Hurley was the President General of WUCWO from 2006-2010.  She was the first woman from the USA to be elected to this position.  Joann Hillebrand, a past NCCW president, served as Treasurer General of WUCWO for 2 mandates (that is 8 years) retiring from this position at our last General Assembly in October in Fatima, Portugal.  I was preceded as the WUCWO representative from the NCCW and therefore, the USA, by two other past presidents of our NCCW: Joan McGrath, and Winkie LeFils.  So, I had very big shoes to fill as these women performed their duties so extremely well.  We have another strong connection to WUCWO from our NCCW in Diane Andraska, the artist who created the visual depiction of WUCWO’s patroness, Mary Queen of Peace.  This beautiful rendition of Our Lady has been presented to several Archbishops and to two Popes: Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis.  So we are very blessed to have these wonderful connections between our NCCW and WUCWO.

H.  MARIBETH:  I have had the privilege of serving as our WUCWO representative from the NCCW and thus from the United States since 2010.  In the last mandate (2010-2014) I was also elected Vice President from North America meaning that I represented our region (Canada and the US) on the Executive Committee.  In addition, I was elected Convener of the Communications Committee and was responsible for our publication, Women’s Voice which is issued 3 times a year in French, English and Spanish.  I redesigned our website, found at www. wucwo.org, and our brochure as well as provided a logo for our Fatima GA.  I also had to provide press releases, collaborate on documents with the Vatican, translate and edit, and write letters from WUCWO to the Holy Father as well as to various Vatican Pontifical Councils. 
For the new mandate (2014-2018), I was re-elected as the US representative to the Board at the GA in Fatima and subsequently was elected by the Board as Vice President General of WUCWO at our Board meeting in Rome in April of this year.  I have also served as an International Representative for WUCWO at the UN in NY since 2010 and continue in that role. 
I feel extraordinarily blessed and humbled that our NCCW chose me to represent our organisation and our country at WUCWO. It is an amazing experience to work so closely with women from around the world.  Despite our differences in language and culture, we bond closely in our common role as Catholic women working to make our world a place where everyone is accorded dignity and respect and receives the chance to pursue that vocation in life for which they were created.  We do this by promoting the presence, participation, and co-responsibility of Catholic women in the Church and in society. These have been the goals of WUCWO for over a century and our NCCW has pursued this work for 95 years in our country.  How fortunate we are to be a part of these two extraordinary and importantly intertwined organisations working so hard to bring about a world that truly reflects Evangelii gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel. 

I.  THEME AND RESOLUTIONS:  Next we would like to discuss the theme and resolutions selected by WUCWO for this mandate (2014-2018). The theme is Hope in Action in the Service of Families, Youth, and the Suffering of the World. The Resolutions for this mandate follow.  Please note them carefully as our NCCW will be asked on a quarterly basis what we have done to help implement these resolutions.
They are:
1.  Support of the Family
2.  End Human Trafficking 
3.  Dialogue for Peace and Justice- (working from the viewpoint of Youth.  Looking for best practices where youth mentor other young people)
4.  Addiction Prevention
5.  Fight Against Corruption
6.  Access to Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation 
We would now like to entertain any suggestions for the best way that NCCW can place these resolutions into concrete Action Steps so Patty and I leave the floor open to your thoughts on this:

First Resolution:  Support of the Family
1. Our Called to Witness resource offers much for the family
    -The 5th section, Holy Holidays
    -Throughout the entire program are prayers that can be said together as a family
    - Make dinner family time to discuss the day and plans together
2. World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia has provided a catechesis on their website that has sections for adults, high school, and elementary school ages. It presents a beautiful theology and our Councils could take the lead in presenting this to groups to promote Family and it could also attract new CCW members
3. NCCW is coming out with a new resource concerning media and this is a key document for families considering the amount of violence, sex, and drug use on TV and other media.  This bombardment leads our youth to become desensitized to these issues.  The Parents’ Television Council has been a great help.

Second Resolution: End Human Trafficking
1.  There will be a free seminar offered through the USCCB and Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C., July 9-10 on this issue
2.  At the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, there will be a breakout session on Thursday regarding domestic violence.  
3.  There is also our wonderful resource, Women Healing the Wounds, and there are free brochures from NCCW which detail how our CCW’s can conduct a panel discussion on this issue.
4.  Our donations to Cross Catholic Outreach, particularly the St. Jean Evangeliste Home program, assist trafficked victims.  We give them thousands of dollars each year.

Third Resolution:  Dialogue for Peace and Justice
WUCWO is approaching this from the aspect of Youth.  Programs that assist youth to stay out of trouble and particularly programs where youth who have been in trouble or nearly in trouble mentor other young persons to keep them out of trouble are of interest.  Looking for best practices with regard to young persons helping other young persons.
1.  We may find some of these best practices if we ask colleges and youth ministers
2.  We can also check through our local CCW’s.

Fourth Resolution:  Addiction Prevention for a Life With a Future
WUCWO is specifically looking at addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and pornography.
1.  The soon to be released NCCW resource on media will help in this area.
2.  The Archdiocese of Baltimore has a Family Peace Project that encourages all parishes to host 12-step programs as these programs have been so successful in helping people who are addicted
3.  Parish Family Life Ministers are good resources to refer addicted persons to programs
4.  Need to be careful as some large companies are targeting very young people and teens with regard to smoking.  We need to bring this information to youth groups in our parishes and discuss that what may seem attractive (smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling, pornography, tanning) can destroy a life.

Fifth Resolution:  Fight Against Corruption
1.  Become involved in government.  Encourage youth and others to get into the political process.
2.  Become educated concerning the issues.  We must be informed voters
3.  Advocate
4.  Vote.  One statistic indicates that less than 50% of eligible voters exercise their precious right to vote.
5.  Participate in your Council’s Advocacy Days at your state level, visiting legislators and letting them know our stand on important issues

Sixth Resolution:  Access to Clean Water and Sanitation
1.  Our NCCW has long had a successful and well-known program with CRS for this: Water for Life
2.  It would be very good for our reports to other bodies, such as WUCWO, if we were able to quantify our support.
3.  We also support clean water programs through Cross Catholic Outreach, particularly through the Marie Louise Bayle Program.
4.  Already we are seeing fighting over scarce water resources.
5.  We also need to be cognizant of water issues in our own country:  Pollution via human actions or by natural disasters and Water resources drying up.  We are anxious to see Pope Francis’ new encyclical that will address issues of climate change, natural ecology, and human ecology.
6.  We need to learn to conserve water; we waste so very much and use potable water for everything.  This is unheard of in many countries, including other developed countries.  

1.  Everyone was assured that the notes from this meeting would be on our website.
2.  All were thanked for calling in and for their participation.
3.  It was valuable to learn about WUCWO and the connection that we have as NCCW. We are all working for a world that is just and secure: Our NCCW on the national level and through WUCWO, on the international level.
4.  Action is vital on these issues but we should always recall that prayer is essential.
5.  We closed with the WUCWO Prayer to Mary, Queen of Peace.