Women’s role in Year for Priests focus as DCCW convenes

One of the best ways women can support priests is to live their baptism well, according to two parish leaders who offered reflections as part of the 2009 convention of the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women last Saturday.

“Every one of us has the priestly duty to offer up sacrifice,” said Msgr. Jason Gray, administrator of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Peoria and judicial vicar of the diocesan Tribunal Office.

“It’s different from the ministerial priesthood, but we are all called to offer up sacrifice and prayer to the Lord,” he told the 55 women from around the diocese who gathered at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria. The convention theme was “A Woman’s Role in the Year for Priests.”

Msgr. Gray reminded them that at their baptism they were united to Christ, who is “priest, prophet and king.” The laity also take on these roles when they preach with the witness of their lives and “reign” over themselves and their families to build up the kingdom of God on earth, he explained.

Father Don Roszkowski, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Metamora and it mission, St. Elizabeth’s in Washburn, also encouraged the women to continue their good works and cherish their baptism as he cherishes his ministerial priesthood.

“I relish my priesthood — it is a pearl of great price,” he said.

THOSE WHO attended the Oct. 24 DCCW convention started the day by placing themselves under the protection of the Blessed Mother. After the rosary, there was a Mass celebrated by Msgr. Dale Wellman, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Moline and longtime spiritual moderator of the group.

Praising them for the work they do in their parish women’s organizations and through the DCCW committees, he said many times they had taken up issues before society was even aware of them. Not only have council members been champions of human life and family values, Msgr. Wellman noted, but they have sounded the alarm about the devastation caused by pornography and human trafficking, raised awareness about the lack of clean drinking water in Third World nations through the Water for Life program, and called people to a greater care for the environment.

Later the women would hear about the DCCW’s efforts to provide school supplies for the poor children of Haiti, support a clinic in Tutwiler, Miss., and collect personal care items for the women incarcerated at the Dwight Correctional Center and Christmas gifts for their children.

“As we come together reflecting on the Year for Priests, we are reminded that we share the call of evangelization — sharing the Good News with one another, sharing God’s glory,” Msgr. Wellman said.

“Today may we rejoice in the ways God has gifted us and give him praise and grow in holiness,” he said.

THE CONFERENCE also included a presentation by Dr. Jeanne Smith on the science of NaPro Technology and how it benefits women by allowing them to observe and record the signs of fertility so they can be studied. Not only does this allow a couple to plan or avoid pregnancy, but it can help doctors determine if there is a fertility problem.

“The goal is health,” said Dr. Smith, who specializes in internal medicine and teaches at OSF Saint Francis. She has started work as a natural family planning medical consultant.

Also addressing conference participants was Dr. Rebecca Woodhull, Chicago Province director. She told the women about how the National Conference of Catholic Women is restructuring and encouraged them to consider joining as individual members.

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