Salt Lake hosts NCCW San Francisco province meeting

Friday, Mar. 17, 2023
Salt Lake hosts NCCW San Francisco province meeting + Enlarge
Members attending the March 11 San Francisco Province Meeting of the National Council of Catholic Women in Salt Lake City are shown with Catholic Community Services of Utah representatives Olga Matviyenko and Ermina Mustafic.
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — The 2023 annual meeting of the National Council of Catholic Women’s San Francisco Province was held March 10-12 at the Marriott University Park Hotel in Salt Lake City. The meeting is hosted by the province director; St. Joseph the Worker parishioner Jeanne Audiss is currently in that position. The San Francisco Province serves councils in Utah, California, Nevada and Hawaii.

The meeting is a chance for members of individual councils to gather for a business session, fellowship and instruction. The speakers at the meeting spoke on worship, praying the rosary and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In addition, those attending heard from representatives of Catholic Community Services of Utah and a presentation on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ program “Walking with Moms in Need.”  

The first speaker was Christopher Huntzinger, director of music and liturgy at St. Ambrose Parish, who spoke on Pope Francis’ 2022 apostolic letter Desiderio Desideravi (I have earnestly desired), which the Holy Father described as “some reflections on the liturgy.”

Huntzinger said when he first read the letter, “I couldn’t put it down” because it spoke on “what I’m all about.”

Catholics are called to the Mass, Huntzinger said, adding that Jesus “is reaching out to us and he wants us to have a relationship with him, he wants us to earnestly share this supper with him, he wants us to be fed by him, he wants us to hear him, he wants to be a part of our lives. That is a very important part of this letter.”

Various moments during the Mass are opportunities “for us to really intimately, deeply connect with Jesus Christ,” he said, and the epiclesis is an opportunity to “put your life on that altar, ask God to change it.”  

The next speaker, Deacon Sunday Espinoza, spoke on praying the rosary and adoration of the blessed sacrament.  Deacon Espinoza is assigned to St. Joseph the Worker Parish and also manages the Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Vocations.

Praying the rosary involves meditating on the mysteries of Christ, he said. “The rosary is ... an extended connection with God, speaking of his son, reflecting on his holy son. … We must pray with our eyes and hearts fixed on Jesus during the rosary as best as possible.”

Similarly, adoration is a time to “be in the presence of God himself, so being in that presence allows you to open your heart completely … and he helps you clean your soul,” the deacon said.

He suggested that those going to adoration prepare by bringing a prayer book or Bible, a rosary and a notebook to record their thoughts, although they may not use any of these articles as they pray, talk to God and are conscious of his presence.

Those at the meeting also heard from two representatives of Catholic Community Services of Utah who serve the refugee community. Audiss said some NCCW members asked that a Ukrainian woman speak to them so they could learn more about the situation faced by refugees, and also what local Catholics can do to address the needs.

At the meeting, Olga Matviyenko, a case manager for CCS’s refugee resettlement team, and Ermina Mustafic,  CCS’ migration and refugee services program volunteer program supervisor, spoke about the women they serve.

Both women came to the United States years ago as refugees, Matviyenko from Ukraine and Mustafic from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Ukrainian refugees coming to Utah have had their homes destroyed and  loved ones killed, Matviyenko said. “They were forced to move to save their life, to save their children and to save their identity,” noting that the war in Ukraine has triggered “Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II … with no clear end in sight.”

She told of two Ukrainian mothers in different cities who both gave birth in the basement of a hospital with no electricity during missile attacks; and of an 86-year-old woman who left the country “because she had nothing left,” although she had once planned to be buried in the local cemetery near her loved ones.

Mustafic said sharing the stories of the refugees is a way to honor the victims.

Both women asked those at the meeting to volunteer as tutors for youth, mentors or teaching life skills to families.

“There are so many ways that you can help” refugees from various countries, Mustafic said.

After the presentation, those present said a prayer for peace.

On Sunday, the women heard about the Walking With Moms in Need program, and also from Cathedral of the Madeleine parishioner Amy Kennedy, the NCCW  national secretary, who spoke on “Reviving  Your CCW.”

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