More than 160 women gather at convention

Dedicating the day to St. Joseph as protector of the church, more than 160 women from 67 parishes gathered in West Point Sept. 25 for the 93rd annual convention of the Omaha Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (OACCW).

"St. Joseph was not your average Joe," said keynote speaker Sharon Doran, a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha and founder of the Seeking Truth Bible Study ministry. "St. Joseph was the strong and silent type. Joseph was chaste and righteous."

In addition to Doran’s talk, the day included Mass, honoring a member of the council with the annual Mullen Award for service, a presentation by Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, and a talk by Archbishop George J. Lucas.

The archbishop presided at the Mass and nine priests concelebrated. Father Andrew Sohm, recently named spiritual adviser for the OACCW, gave the homily.

"Let your light be bright," said Father Sohm, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Newcastle and St. Joseph Parish in Ponca. "Sometimes this world can be so dark, so bitter, so cold, and there are so many ways we bring light."

Father Sohm also presented Archbishop Lucas with $10,377 from the council’s initiative, "A Penny and a Prayer for Vocations."

The council named a new recording secretary, Mary Flies of St. Patrick Parish in Fremont. And it honored Jackie Bartek with the Mullen Award.

A member of St. John the Baptist Parish of Deloit Township, rural Holt County, Bartek has served the OACCW as treasurer, vice president and president of her deanery, and served as state service commission chair and led other state-level commissions.

Bartek also is a lector and extraordinary minister of holy Communion in her parish, sings in the choir and is a member of the Christian Mothers organization. She has taught religious education and served on a committee about seven years ago that redecorated the church. She also has served on a number of community organizations, including the CORE (Clearwater, Orchard, Royal and Ewing) Economic Development group.

As part of his presentation, Venzor talked about the importance of being involved in local politics, and he reminded the council that "Choose Life" licenses plates will be available in Nebraska beginning in January.

Venzor said one concern is any legislative proposal that would legalize assisted suicide, a practice that is legal now in five states and the District of Columbia.

In the day’s final talk, Archbishop Lucas addressed the immorality of assisted suicide and stressed the need to apply Catholic teaching to that and other issues.

"We are proposing, but not imposing," the archbishop said. "We care about our state (of Nebraska). We care about our young people."

Mary Goff and Mary Strohmeyer, both of St. Joseph Parish in Lyons, were co-chairs of the gathering, which was hosted by the Rural North East Deanery.

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