SALT LAKE CITY — Hundreds of women from throughout Utah gathered Sept. 11-12 for the 92nd annual Diocese of Salt Lake City Council of Catholic Women convention, which had the theme ‘Let Your Light Shine.’
A highlight of the convention was the traditional Woman of the Year banquet, at which women selected by their parish were honored for their accomplishments. Numerous members of the diocesan clergy joined the women’s friends and family members at the banquet.
The women of the DCCW “make Christ alive and visible by being Christ to one another by the way you help and treat each other with love, mercy, compassion, dignity and respect,” said Bishop Oscar A. Solis at the banquet. “This is the kind of leadership our world needs – authentic witnesses with integrity. It means people who walk the talk. In doing so, you do not only follow Christ but you lead others to Christ.”
The women lead by word and deed, he said, adding, “I am truly impressed by your perseverance and zeal in maintaining the different ministries you carry out in your parishes to help our clergy build a vibrant Church – a faith community that is alive in faith, hope and love for God and for one another. … There is no doubt that your continued works of charity and service in various capacities in your respective parishes, along with your loyal support of your pastors, makes a difference in the lives of so many people. … Your work in action reflects God’s presence in the world in countless ways.”
Prior to the dinner, the women attended Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeline with Bishop Solis presiding. Concelebrating were Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general; Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus; Fr. Martin Diaz, rector of the cathedral; Fr. Ariel Durian, CS, the newly appointed spiritual moderator for the DCCW who also is administrator of St. Peter Parish in American Fork; and Msgr. Michael Winterer and Msgr. Robert Bussen, both retired priests of the diocese.
The banquet, on Saturday night, was preceded by a full day of presentations. Emmie Gardner, CEO of Holy Cross Ministries, spoke about the work her organization does, and its history with the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Mary, Ann Berzins, a parishioner at St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center, told of her faith journey.
The keynote speaker was Maria Morera Johnson, an award-winning author and social media presence. In her talk, titled “Living in the Light of Eternity,” Johnson used as an example the German philosopher Edith Stein, who took the name Benedicta of the Cross when she became a Carmelite nun; she died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz and was canonized in 1999.
As a philosopher, Stein “was writing about the role of women in a secular setting in the early 20th century at the same time we were struggling in the world with modernism and at the same time Margaret Sanger was launching all of her craziness which we see, sadly, the rotten fruit of today,” Johnson said. “And, at the same time all this was happening 100 years ago, the American bishops formed the National Council of Catholic Women.”
One quote of St. Benedicta’s that Johnson said she particularly likes is “Were each woman an image of the Mother of God, a spouse of Christ, an apostle of the Divine Heart, then would each fulfill her feminine vocation no matter what conditions she lived and what worldly activity absorbed her life.”
As women, “we have a place in the world and we have a duty, we have a vocation, to bring the life of Christ there where we are,” and that is part of the mission of the Council of Catholic Women, Johnson said.
She also discussed Pope Paul VI’s 1965 address to women, given at the closing of the Second Vatican Council; and Pope John Paul II’s 1995 “Letter to Women.”
“Women, you do know how to make truth sweet, tender and accessible; make it your task to bring the spirit of this council into institutions, schools, homes and daily life,” Pope Paul VI wrote. “Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.”
Pope John Paul II discussed the “feminine genius,” which has four components: sensitivity, generosity, receptivity and spiritual motherhood. In her talk, Johnson touched on each of these four components. At the close of her presentation, she asked the women attending the convention to ponder in prayer how they have experienced each of the four virtues of feminine genius, and consider where they excel in these and where they need work.
On Sunday, the presenter was Kit Cummings, a St. Rose of Lima parishioner, who spoke about “The Love Languages of Christ,’ which was based on Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages.”