To grow membership, smile and pray a lot
One of the most powerful tools in building membership in an organization is something everyone can handle.
“You need to smile,” Jody Watermann told the 80 women who gathered at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria this month for a daylong program of leadership training that was developed by the National Council of Catholic Women.
Other important tools are prayer — “we are a Catholic women’s group” — and a willingness to nurture relationships, said Watermann, who is the coordinator of religious education at St. Therese Parish in Aurora and a member of the NCCW Leadership Team.
“Membership is a process,” she explained. “People need to know they are needed — not only welcome, but needed.”
Hosted by the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, the day drew women from the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Rockford and Springfield. Also in attendance were women from the neighboring Diocese of Lafayette, Ind.
The event was sponsored by the NCCW’s Province of Chicago, which encompasses the state of Illinois.
Watermann’s teaching partner was Linda Clark, who helped to develop the program at the request of Ellen Bachman, immediate past president of the National Council of Catholic Women. A team of seven worked for two years on the leadership training program, which was piloted in the Diocese of LaCrosse, Wis., in April 2008.
Joan Weber, president of the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, said the most valuable thing she took away from the day was the information about the life cycle of an organization.
“I really wasn’t aware, didn’t have a definite understanding, of what an organization would go through unless you did some new things and different things,” she said. “I was thrilled to learn that and will share it with every organization I’m involved with.”
She added that having the NCCW leadership training day was a blessing for the women of Illinois and said, “We were gratified to have as many people as we did.”