Meet new leader of Diocesan Council of Catholic Women

GRAND RIDGE — Unlike the recent midterm elections, when new officers are elected for the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women there are no stump speeches, no promises that may or may not be kept, no verbal assaults that create more harm than good. There’s too much work to be done and new president Nympha White is the first to tell you how vital it is for that work to continue.

Not only does the DCCW offer ways to get involved in direct service by supporting a clinic in Tutwiler, Miss., a school in Jamaica, and the women incarcerated at the Dwight Correctional Center here in central Illinois, but members support efforts to respect life, to provide clean drinking water in poor areas of the world, and to eradicate pornography. In addition, the council provides opportunities for days of reflection around the diocese.

“We need to be knowledgeable about our faith, so we’re ready to defend our faith,” White told The Catholic Post, adding that women can also benefit themselves and others through prayer.

“Prayer can really move mountains if we pray hard,” she said.

White learned the power of prayer from her family and the largely Catholic community of Tago in the Surigao del Sur Province of the Philippines. Her family home was a mile from the Pacific Ocean and she could often hear the waves.

“Every morning the church bell would ring and you could hear the rosary on the speaker,” she recalled. “The whole town hears the rosary and no one complains. This is at 6 in the morning.”

Her parents, Pedro and Cinderella Medrano were very active in their church, which was a block from the house. Not only did the Medranos and their four sons and four daughters go to Mass every day, but the children attended Catholic schools.

“My father was part of the first class of Cursillo in the Philippines. He was also the grand knight for the Knights of Columbus,” White said. He served as the high school principal and mayor, as well.

“A lot of our relatives are in politics,” she explained.

In her turn, White made her Cursillo weekend while she was a student at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. At about the same time, she started teaching religious education classes, something she has continued since moving to the United States with her husband, Don, 31 years ago.

They have lived in Grand Ridge, where his family is from, for their entire married life and raised their two daughters there.

White is in her 10th year of teaching sixth grade CCD at St. Columba’s in Ottawa and worked with the fourth-graders at St. Mary’s in Grand Ridge for 20 years before that.

White has also been active in St. Columba’s Altar and Rosary Society and sings soprano in the parish choir. One of her favorite projects is providing fresh flowers from her garden for the altar.

White was recruited to join the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women in 2002, the same year she was invited to be a member of the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society.

“I attended my first DCCW meeting and they put me to work right away,” she said. “At that time they had vicariate coordinators who were in charge of a certain number of parishes. I was the coordinator for the Ottawa vicariate.”

She put her business skills to work as auditor and later as treasurer of the DCCW.

As president, numbers still concern her, although it’s all about membership now.

“It would be nice if we could get more women in the south (part of the diocese),” she said. “I’d like all of our diocese to be represented, if possible.”

The DCCW used to have 50 parish affiliates, but now there are 32. Many women’s organizations, including the National Council of Catholic Women, are struggling with the same issues as the membership ages and younger women are working, raising families and in some cases taking care of their parents, too.

“I’d like to visit the parish organizations, attend their meetings and see what they’re doing,” White said. “I’d like to see if there’s something we can do.”

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