SALT LAKE CITY — Pat Voorhes, a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish who has been serving as a National Council of Catholic Women province director, will finish her two-year term in September. She has been active in the organization at various levels for more than 37 years.
“The National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) acts through its membership to support, empower and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service. NCCW programs respond with Gospel values to the needs of the Church and society in the modern world,” according to the organization’s website.
As San Francisco province director, Voorhes has been the liaison for the NCCW to the dioceses of northern California, Utah, Nevada and Hawaii. The position generally rotates among the more active NCCW membership councils within the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the dioceses of Santa Rosa, Sacramento and Salt Lake City. Voorhes works to promote the good works of the NCCW and to increase membership while communicating with the bishops in the province on a regular basis. She also helps them to encourage women of the dioceses to be involved with NCCW.
During her term, Voorhes has seen increased individual memberships, she said, and a new chapter was started in the Diocese of Orange, Calif. During that process, she mentored the new officers and communicated with them regularly, she said.
Voorhes originally joined the Council of Catholic Women in 1981, after moving to Utah from California in 1980.
“Coming to a predominantly Mormon state, I feel like it’s important for Catholics to have a presence here,” she said. “It’s important to me to show my daughters how it is to be an active Catholic woman in a state where there is not a predominance of Catholics.”
Voorhes started out as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Parish Council of Catholic Women, where she went on to serve as president. At the request of Bishop William K. Weigand, she helped found the CCW Wasatch Deanery and became its first president. At the diocesan level, she served as second vice president, first vice president and then president.
At the national level, she was selected to be church commissioner and served for two years. She then was elected as secretary of the NCCW. After that, she joined the leadership team as a trainer. When fellow Utahn Bobbie Hunt was national president, Voorhes served as her family commission chair.
“I’ve enjoyed it so much; I’ve met so many wonderful women,” Voorhes said of her long involvement with NCCW. One of her favorite things is attending the annual organization convention.
“To be surrounded by 300 women so dedicated to be the voice of Catholic women is truly phenomenal,” she said.
Past Diocesan Council of Catholic Women president and Blessed Sacrament Parish pastoral associate Sharon Jackson has worked with Voorhes over the years. Eighteen years ago Jackson took over the position from Voorhes and was trained by her.
“She was a great mentor to me,” Jackson said. “She is very thorough and extremely well-organized, and that benefitted my training in a number of ways. Pat is very balanced and grounded and a strong leader. She is very direct, firm and clear and at the same time calm. Her personality has served the national council well.”
With a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Westminster College and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah, Voorhes worked in adolescent residential treatment centers and an eating disorder clinic, then became a certified clinical transplant social worker at the University of Utah Transplant Center in 2008 and currently specializes in liver transplants.
In 2015, she was the recipient of the 2015 Judy Midelfort Memorial Award from the National Society for Transplant Workers for her significant contributions to the transplant field. At the time she was in her second term as the national STSW treasurer.
“I was very honored to receive this award because I feel like it is a reward and an honor just to help these patients with a life-saving organ,” Voorhes said at the time. “Every day is kind of overwhelming just helping them; they are very appreciative. I really do love my job.”
Voorhes has been married to her husband, Wayne, for 47 years. They have two daughters: Leigh Anne Garcia (married to Geof) is a nurse practitioner and Heather Seay (married to James) is an acupuncturist. She has five granddaughters and one deceased grandson.
Now that her term as province director is almost over, Voorhes said she is not sure what she is going to do next. “I’m sure the Holy Spirit has something in mind,” she said.
Voorhes said she expects to remain active in the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, although she has no plans to run for office.