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Diocesan Council of Catholic Women

By Venessa Lopatka, president of JDCCW | July 2020

Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Celebrates 70 Years

Since last October, the Joliet Diocesan Council of Catholic Women has been celebrating their 70th anniversary in the diocese. It is a year to highlight and reflect upon seven decades of support, empowerment, and education we have offered to all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership, and service.

As an affiliate of the National Council of Catholic Women, we continue our journey in prayer and action to assist those in need due to economic, social and environmental challenges. The JDCCW is organized into six deaneries based on areas almost identical to the diocesan deaneries for the parishes. Each deanery holds gatherings for the local parishes twice a year to exchange ideas, pray together,  socialize and to share a meal together. Deanery presidents, active women from parish CCW groups and elected officers comprise the JDCCW board, which meets seven-to-nine times per year. Our current board has 36 members.

A cookbook with more than 600 recipes from the home kitchens of women (and a few men) from all over the diocese was published in September 2019. This cookbook contains family favorites and includes treasured heirloom recipes. Profits from the cookbook benefit the Bishop Blanchette Scholarship Fund, which annually awards scholarships to needy students attending a Catholic high school in the diocese. Each book is $20 and can be purchased by contacting JDCCW at the phone and email at the end of this article.

JDCCW annually sponsors the Woman of the Year Mass and Luncheon at the Cathedral of St. Raymond. Parishes with CCW groups select a woman from their parish to be honored for her service to the parish, community or other organizations, and they are all recognized at this beautiful Mass and luncheon.

As Catholic women, we do our best to support those in need. In recent years, JDCCW has organized the “Box of Joy” collection for Cross Catholic Outreach in our area. This year, 1,915 boxes were collected and shipped from two parishes to bring Christmas gifts to needy children in the southern part of our hemisphere.

This past year we have encouraged and educated women to support Catholic Charities, and many are focusing on providing needed items and funds to support the Daybreak shelter in Joliet and the Hope House shelter in eastern DuPage County.

On Oct. 17, 2020, JDCCW will hold our biennial convention at the Blanchette Catholic Center in Crest Hill with the theme “Grace is a Gift.” In the past, conventions have been held off-site over a weekend, but we thought we would try a one-day convention like the other diocesan groups in Illinois to save time and money for the busy women in our area.  Our National Council of Catholic Women president, Jean Kelly, will be joining us as well as two excellent speakers:

  • Fr. Domenic Roscioli, a priest and retreat leader from the Milwaukee diocese, who also has a ministry serving children with cancer.
  • Jane Knuth, a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Kalamazoo, MI, who is the author of four books and wrote a monthly column for the now-defunct diocesan newspaper in the Diocese of Kalamazoo.

Our convention will also feature information from our spirituality, leadership and service commissions that council groups are currently working on or are interested in pursuing in the future. It will be a great day to learn, share, pray and socialize, wrapping up with Mass in the Xavier Chapel, the installation of new officers and a dinner at Prairie Bluff Golf Club in Lockport.

As JDCCW continues our 70th anniversary year, we look forward to more women being involved in Councils of Catholic Women in our diocese. Many parishes that do not have groups are encouraged to contact our office for guidance in starting a council at their parish. It only takes a handful of interested women to start an affiliate with your pastor’s approval, and, with God’s Grace, more women will join. Many women are interested in serving those in need, learning more about their faith, getting to know other women from their parishes, and having some fun too.

For more information, contact Venessa Lopatka, JDCCW president, at jdccwpresident@dioceseofjoliet.org  or at 815-221-6249.