Local women exhorted to use hope, charity to help Church, others

by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

April 9, 2015

Bishop Michael Olson chats with attendees at the third annual Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW) held this year at St. Patrick Cathedral. (Photo by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen / NTC)

More than 140 women traveled from across the diocese to attend the third annual Day of Reflection at St. Patrick Cathedral. But the March 19 gathering, hosted by the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW), held particular meaning for one participant.

After years away from the faith, Evelyn Douglas is coming home.

“I was baptized Catholic, but my parents weren’t church-going people,” the mother of two said after a Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Olson. “When I married, I became a Methodist like my husband to keep the family together.”

Now divorced and a grandmother, Douglas is eager to reclaim her religion and study the catechism lessons she never learned as a child.

“I’m going to go through RCIA and, I thought, what better way to start that process than getting together with other Catholic women,” she said. “I wanted to come today because I’m just so blessed to be coming back to my religion.”

Douglas joined women from 16 different parishes on the Feast of St. Joseph for a morning liturgy followed by a keynote talk given by Bishop Olson. A buffet luncheon provided ample time for networking and conversation.

The Fort Worth DCCW works under the direction of the National Council of Catholic Women to promote the dignity and vocation of the Catholic woman while encouraging works of charity. Both organizations collaborate on national and world issues of social justice affirming Catholic values and Church teaching.

Former Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann initiated the Day of Reflection three years ago to give women in the diocese a forum to address their concerns and ideas.

“There’s more people here than we expected, so I’m very pleased with the turnout — especially from the rural areas,” said Judy Shaw, the Council’s president. “This is the first time Bishop Olson has spoken to the group, so I know that was a big draw for a lot of people. The Day of Reflection is a wonderful idea that’s really taken off.”

In an address described by listeners as both insightful and humorous, Bishop Olson discussed how faith and hope lead to charity and the clarity to understand that Christians are called to help people in need.

“This is especially true when responding to the unborn and their mothers, the refugee, the confined, and those who fall through the margins of society,” he explained. “[Hope] is a particular virtue women are inclined to have and can use to help the Church.”

The bishop said the caring, supportive nature of females was evident last summer during the humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border. Mothers and grandmothers were the first to recognize the plight of unaccompanied minors entering the country from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“There were mothers and grandmothers noticing and talking to other mothers of young children and asking, ‘How did you arrive?’ They heard, ‘Well, we came through this journey and we need something to eat,’” said the Bishop who learned about the early days of the crisis from his friend, Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores.

Parishioners listened to their stories of people crossing the border and heard the cautionary words, “there’s more of us.” So, Church families began helping the growing surge of immigrants.

“It wasn’t an idea. It wasn’t a governmental system, and it wasn’t better border security,” Bishop Olson said. “It was simply desperate people in need and other people helped them.”

Catholics are called and corporately sent in communion with each other, he said.

“Our ultimate end is to love God and to love our neighbor here and now in the present moment with a faith that enlightens us to the next right step, while ruling out all steps that are contrary to the Gospel,” he added.

 “The journey as well as the destination unites us as the people of the new covenant,” Bishop Olson said in closing. “We are called to be inconvenienced for the sake of each and every one of us but especially for the poor, the easily overlooked, the refugee, the addicted, people who are gay and their families, and the chronically ill.”

The bishop’s words resonated with Louisa Ocuna and Mary Ann Hogan. The parishioners from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Wichita Falls saw the Day of Reflection advertised in a flyer and decided to make the two-hour trip.

“Our Guadalupana group is dwindling, and I wanted to see if there was some strength I could gain here and take back,” Ocuna said.

The morning liturgy and fellowship exceeded her expectations.

“I listened to the bishop’s words of faith, and he is right. It’s not about an individual. It’s about the needs of the Church and the needs of people,” she said. “I met new friends and they had some great ideas about how to help our parish. Like the bishop said: If you listen, you’ll hear the Word. And I listened.”

More than 140 women traveled from across the diocese to attend the third annual Day of Reflection at St. Patrick Cathedral. But the March 19 gathering, hosted by the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW), held particular meaning for one participant.

After years away from the faith, Evelyn Douglas is coming home. “I was baptized Catholic, but my parents weren’t church-going people,” the mother of two said after a Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Olson. “When I married, I became a Methodist like my husband to keep the family together.”

Published (until 12/12/2031)
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