By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
RAYTOWN — This is a special year for the members of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. In November they will celebrate 90 years of service to the diocese.
On April 3, many of the members attended their annual convention, held at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Raytown.
The morning was highlighted by the Shoebox Shower, a Lenten project the DCCW has sponsored for the past decade. Parishes, schools, and businesses participate by collecting and filling shoeboxes and bags with items women and children fleeing abusive situations often don’t have time to pack, arriving at a shelter with little more than the clothes on their backs. Items including toiletries, toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, brushes, shampoo, hand towel, pen, pencil, paper, children’s and baby needs, socks, coloring books, crayons, small cuddly animal and games are donated to local shelters.
This year 877 shoeboxes and bags were distributed between five shelters — Rose Brooks, Hope House, New House, Synergy and Safe House, allowing each shelter 175 filled boxes and bags.
Bridgette Mavic, vice president, Clinical Services for New House was the first shelter representative to come to pick up shoeboxes. Last year, she said, New House served 800 women and children in the shelter, and reached more than 10,000 others. Right now about 75 women and children are sheltered at New House. “We are very appreciative of the Shoebox Shower,” she said.
Mass was celebrated in the church by the DCCW moderator, Father Steven Rogers, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, followed by a catered lunch. In the afternoon there was an election of new officers. Newly elected were president, Kathy Philpott, St. Mary’s, Independence; and treasurer, Kristian Campbell, St. Peter’s. They will serve for two years. First Vice-president Shirley McGhee; second Vice-president Carolyn Huff and secretary, Kathy Baker each have another year to serve.
In November 1923, Bishop Thomas Lillis organized the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women to serve as an umbrella organization for all Catholic women involved in their deaneries, Altar and parish societies. It included other organizations including the Ladies’ Ancient Order of Hibernians, Our Lady of Mercy Auxiliary, the Siena Club, the Ladies of St. Peter Claver, the Ladies of Charity, the World Apostolate of Fatima and the Tabernacle Society. Our Lady of Good Counsel was named patroness of the newly established Council.
The first president elected by the DCCW was Mary Spoor, who, a few years later joined the community of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, taking the religious name, Sister Mary Ancilla.
During World War II women of the DCCW sold stamps and war bonds through altar societies and parish schools, and supported the War Finance Program in other ways, including furnishing speakers during the War Chest Drive. The council received citation from the U.S. Treasury and War Finance Committee for their efforts. DCCW members also volunteered many hours to the USO and other related activities during the war.
The women later collected and distributed food, bedding, clothing and household necessities to victims of the 1951 flood.
The DCCW has actively supported the Fair Housing Ordinance, Fairness in Education and other policies affecting the church, the Kansas City area community, the right to life, education and basic human needs both locally and around the world, especially through Catholic Relief Services programs.
Members have marched in the annual Walk for Life held each January on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade, which legalized abortion.
They took part in the Global Living Rosary Crusade at Kauffman Stadium in May 2008 – helping behind the scenes in the setup and mailings. Five members marched in the rosary procession.
Since 2003, the Shoebox Showers have collected and distributed thousands of care, hygiene and comfort items to shelters for women and children fleeing from abusive situations.
As Father Rogers said in his homily at the convention Mass, people get so caught up in their thoughts, problems and obligations that they create invisible shells around themselves. As a result they cannot see the beauty or the joy around them. There are always hidden opportunities to find joy and to overcome problems and frustrations by focusing on blessings. The 90 years of service of the DCCW to the Church and the community is one of those blessings.