Diocesan Council of Catholic Women hold, discuss, elections

By: By Jennifer Willems, The Catholic Post

As often happens when people gather in Illinois these days, the women who attended the convention of the Diocese of Peoria Council of Catholic Women wanted to know how to vote in the upcoming election and keynote speaker Robert Gilligan of the Catholic Conference of Illinois told them.

While he didn’t endorse a single candidate, Gilligan advised them first to form their consciences by seeking the truth, and second to inform themselves about the facts and background of each issue.

“Third, as Catholics, what are we called to do? Pray,” said Gilligan, the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, the public policy voice for the Illinois bishops and lay Catholics. “Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If every one of us did those things well, we would have none of the problems we have today.”

They had another election to take care of first, however.

Those who gathered at St. Jude Church in Peoria for the convention, which was held Oct. 18, elected Agnes Christman of Danville as their new president. A member of St. Paul Parish, she will serve for the next two years.

Christman succeeds Nympha White of Grand Ridge, a member of St. Columba Parish in Ottawa, who completed two terms or four years as president. She will remain on the board as treasurer.

Also assisting Christman will be Joan Weber of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, vice president; Marjorie Jordan of Holy Family Parish in Danville, secretary; and Jane Harris of St. Jude Parish in Peoria, auditor.

In other business, the women voted to accept a motion that all Catholics in Diocese of Peoria be encouraged to pray the Angelus each day. They also congratulated Msgr. Dale Wellman, who has been their spiritual adviser for 41 years, on his golden anniversary as a priest.

In addition to Gilligan, speakers for the biennial convention included Christie Schilling of Colona, who discussed her relationship with Scripture in “The Word Became Flesh,” and Sister Irene Baquiran, MQHM, whose community works to save young women and men from a life of prostitution and human trafficking in the Philippines.

They started the day with a rosary led by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, and a Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who joined them for lunch.

“We all know the choice for governor is less than what we may like, in terms of where the candidates stand on issues of importance to Catholic social teaching,” Gilligan said during his talk, “Your Catholic Vote — More Important Each Election.”

He referred them to “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a document offered by the Illinois bishops as guidance for voters. (See the full text of the Illinois bishops’ statement .)

In a year when “there is no clear-cut answer,” Gilligan suggested they pay special attention to the last sentence in the bishops’ statement: “On the difficult occasion where both candidates accept an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter may consider each candidate’s integrity and commitments, and determine which would be less likely to advance a morally flawed position and more likely to promote other authentic human goods.”

He acknowledged the life issues, but said “there are other issues at work here — the status of the state’s fiscal situation, what the candidates would do with regard to nonpublic schools and choice issues.”

“I think you’re going to have to make yourself more familiar with some of these issues and pray about it,” Gilligan said.

Christie Schilling also spoke of the importance of prayer, especially praying with Scripture. She said she may spend days or even months pondering one Scripture passage until God reveals its meaning for her life.

The wife of Bobby Schilling, the Republican candidate for Congress in the 17th District, and mother of 10 children, she said the rosary is a wonderful way to praise God.

“The battles we face every day are won by prayer and the rosary is the weapon,” she said.

Noting that even the saints found it a difficult prayer at times, she said he trick is not to contemplate the past, but to bring Jesus to our lives in the present moment.

Prayerful and financial support is what Sister Irene was seeking from the DCCW, so the Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries could continue their work to assist people trapped in prostitution. Education is key to making certain young people in poor rural areas can break the cycle by finding dignified work, she said.

Sister Irene invited them to become a mission partner of the Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries, by sponsoring a student for $25 a month or $200 a year. For more information, visit mqhm.org or write to Sister Irene at srirene82772@gmail.com.

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