The Voice of Truth

This article was posted on: April 12, 2024

As president of the La Crosse Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW), Susan Tully is passionate about empowering women to recognize their strengths and potential.

La Crosse DCCW, sisterhood and the 2024 convention

As president of the La Crosse Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW), Susan Tully is passionate about empowering women to recognize their strengths and potential. She shares her passion for ensuring that women are here not just at the local level but also on a national and international scale.

Catholic Women Have a Voice from Their Local Parish to the United Nations

There is a line of communication from the local parish women’s groups, mostly Parish Councils of Catholic Women (PCCW), but also under other women’s organization names, such as Altar Society or Christian Mothers, where their voices may be heard. The officers of these groups meet with their deanery-level representatives, who then attend the La Crosse DCCW quarterly meetings in Tomah, which is in the center of our diocese. 

“However, many small groups in parishes, multiplied by the number of parishes in the diocese, add up to many sisters and a big sisterhood,” Susan shared. During these quarterly meetings, voices from local parishes are heard and taken to the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW). In return, the NCCW presents communications to the deanery representatives. They then return to their deaneries to share with the local parishes support from the La Crosse DCCW and NCCW, whether through grants or service projects.

Susan encourages all the deaneries to send a representative to the La Crosse DCCW meetings. “If there are no officers at the deanery level, any group officers may attend the quarterly meetings held at Tomah.” She continued, “They have a right to vote and be part of the discussion to help decide the La Crosse DCCW’s focus. They are an important parish voice at the diocesan level.” The meetings include a lunch and speaker, which round out an important day of learning about what resources are available to their parishes. The La Crosse DCCW has a committee that meets with women to start a PCCW in their parishes and promote leadership at the deanery level, which encourages more women’s voices. Every year, the organization supports various causes and gives out grants for those who are involved in Catholic schools, grants for books and Adventure Camp.

Wisconsin is divided into five dioceses that make up the Milwaukee Province. Jane Schiszik, the director of the Milwaukee province, represents Wisconsin women at NCCW, while all national women’s groups represent the international level.

“That is the beauty of Catholicism,” Susan said. “The beauty of the Catholic Church is the universal Church and the theology behind our faith. When you start diving deeper, your eyes are opened.”

“The NCCW was formed more than 100 years ago, in 1920, by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB),” said Susan. In history, it states, more than 5,000 Catholic women’s organizations nationwide would eventually become the first NCCW affiliates. As he called for a unified voice for women across the nation, Father John Cooper, chairman of the Committee of Order at the first gathering, stated, “I do not know of any better way in which we can develop our leadership. The NCCW was given the mandate to respond with Gospel values to the needs of the Church and society in the modern world. It acts, through its membership, to support, empower and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service.” They have an advisory seat at the USCCB and the United Nations (U.N.), and its patroness is Our Lady of Good Counsel.

Maribeth Stewart Blogoslawski currently serves as an NCCW international representative at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. She recently reported in the NCCW membership magazine, Catholic Woman Vol. 49, No. 3.

Recognizing the importance of the Catholic women’s voice, Maribeth said, “The presence of the NCCW at the United Nations is essential in terms of awareness of issues, the language used, debates heard and input solicited. The work is at once frustrating, engaging, enlightening and important. I am grateful for this opportunity to provide you with just a small sample of work undertaken this past year to bring our voice to the U.N. headquarters in New York.”

The La Crosse DCCW Convention Keynote Speaker

Abby Johnson, a Catholic woman, is raising her voice to address the issue of abortion in the United States and around the world. Susan is thrilled that Abby will shed new light on this topic, making it more accessible for everyone to understand. Those who are unaware of the facts surrounding abortion now have the opportunity to learn the truth firsthand.

Abby sought help from a local pro-life group. She swore that she would begin to advocate for life in the womb and expose abortion for what it truly is—horrific.

As a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, worker and director, Abby knows what happens in the clinics. Her life changed in 2009, after eight years in the role, when she was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion and watched in horror as a 13-week baby boy fought for and ultimately lost his life at the hands of the abortionist. Abby sought help from a local pro-life group. She swore that she would begin to advocate for life in the womb and expose abortion for what it truly is—horrific.

Abby’s passion was and still is for women in crisis to receive help. She said in a video called “Changing Sides,” which may be viewed on the Augustine Institute’s online library called “FORMED,” that her eyes were opened to the truth after what she witnessed—a visceral horror that she had never seen before. She realized that, “I can’t continue to do this. I have to get out.” Today, while encouraging women to choose life for their baby, Abby encourages other women working at abortion clinics to get out. She started a ministry called, And Then There Were None to help these women with the transition.

The April 13 DCCW Convention

Hear Abby’s compelling story and powerful message at the La Crosse DCCW convention on April 13 at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse. Vendors will be present and lunch will be held at noon. Abby will speak from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and the attendees will conclude the day with a 4:30 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral. The event is open to all people in the La Crosse Diocese.

For more information, please visit https://www.ldccw.org/.

Prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel

God of heavenly wisdom, you have given us Mary, Mother of Jesus, as our guide and counselor. Grant that we may always seek her motherly help in this life and so enjoy her blessed presence in the life to come .O Mother of Good Counsel, patroness of the National Council of Catholic Women, intercede for us that we may be wise, courageous, and loving leaders of the Church. Help us, dear mother, to know the mind of Jesus, your son. May the Holy Spirit fill us with reverence for God’s creation and compassion for all God’s children. May our labors of love on earth enhance the reign of God and may God’s gift of faith and living hope prepare us for the fullness of the world to come. Amen.

Story by Cathy Greenseth
Published in the March/April 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

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