Catholic women’s convention to focus on abuse, refugees

Nominees for S.C. Catholic Woman of the Year announced

The annual South Carolina Council of Catholic Women (SCCCW) convention will be held March 27-29 at the Myrtle Beach Martinique, celebrating the “Journey to Jubilee,” this year’s theme.

The convention project is the Refugee Women Emergency Fund, which was established by the National Council of Catholic Women in leadership with Catholic Relief Services, and is part of the “Works of Reconciliation” program, which addresses the special needs and challenges of women and children in the second millennium.

There are 27.4 million people who live as refugees in the world today and 30 million internally displaced persons around the world. Eighty percent of these refugees and displaced persons are women and children. These statistics, provided in a Refugee Women Emergency Fund brochure, are accompanied by the hard facts about the world’s refugees. The pamphlet says reality is: The moment women leave their homeland they are at risk of rape, torture and sexual exploitation. Their journey may take them to lands where they cannot speak the language. They must be totally dependent on strangers to meet their basic life needs.

This project is in line with the workings of Mother Teresa, whose memory the convention is dedicated to this year.

Diane Bullard, regional director of Catholic Charities for the Pee Dee Deanery, is the featured speaker at the convention’s Community Concerns Commission Workshop. She will address the topic of child abuse and what can be done in our communities to heighten awareness and prevention.

Participants at the convention are being asked to bring school supplies for children, who for whatever reason do not have them, in support of Catholic Charities. Suggested supplies include paper, pencils, crayons, rulers, notebooks, glue and erasers. The supplies will be distributed in all four deaneries of the diocese.

The Woman Religious Award, started in 1995, is presented annually to a nun who has made a significant contribution to the Catholic Church in South Carolina. All nominees must be presently ministering in the diocese.

The Catholic Woman of the Year Award will be presented to a woman who is active in her parish organization. Nominees will be judged on their outstanding work over the past five years.

Nominees for SCCCW Catholic Women of the Year

Ann D. Mitchum

Ann Mitchum of Blessed Sacrament in Charleston, a native of the Holy City, was nominated by the Women’s Guild. She has served as Guild secretary, treasurer and commission chairman, and as community chairman for 10 years. She has prepared meals for the Crisis Ministry homeless every other month for 15 years, earning a place on their Honor Roll. She has also been in charge of the annual Angel Tree Project at Christmas, which donates gifts to needy children of the parish and ECHO House, Neighborhood House and John’s Island Outreach.

Active in her parish community, Mitchum coordinates dinners for the parish family, distributes poinsettias to shut-ins at Christmas and initiated the memorial Trees this past Christmas in the Adoration Chapel, on which dove ornaments hung with the names of parishioners who died in the past year. She also distributes Communion to home bound parishioners.

Mitchum is a mother of four and wife of William Mitchum for 38 years.

Mary Ann Van Deusen

Nominated by the St. Joseph’s Women’s Club in Anderson, Mary Ann Van Deusen, the oldest of 10 children and with two of her own, is no stranger to sharing her gifts with others. She has served as the Women’s Club president and as deanery legislative information chair. She is a member of the St. Joseph’s prayer group, Hilltoppers, bereavement committee and coffee hour for adult education.

Active in the pro-life movement, Van Deusen gets involved in the community in the Heritage Garden Club, American Legion Auxiliary, Doe’s of the Elks Club and the Newcomers Club. She also visits nursing homes and the home bound.

Priscilla S. Thompson

Priscilla S. Thompson of St. James Church in Conway sells food certificates after the weekend liturgies to raise money for the expansion fund, participates in every fall rummage sale, started the quarterly church blood drive and served as community commission chairman for two years and international chairman for one year. She is also active in the Chamber of Commerce and is on the Main Street revitalization programs.

The St. James Ladies’ Guild said she was the guiding spirit as well for the replacement of the chrismons for the annual Chrismon Tree, which was destroyed by fire in the on New Year’s 1996. The original Chrismon decoration were the result of her bringing her mother-in-law to a Ladies’ Guild meeting many years ago. As a result, Priscilla and her mother spearheaded a crafts project to produce chrismons for the parish.

Thompson is the oldest child of seven of the founding family of the St. James parish community. She and her husband, Dann, have two children.

Margaret Rose Khoury

The St. Joseph Altar Society nominated Margaret Rose Khoury, who moved to Columbia after marrying a local resident, and soon after became active in her parish and community.

Khoury, mother of six, cooks meals for the bereavement committee and is currently in her third year as chairman. She frequently delivers meals to bereaved families, and brings the elderly their “favorite meals.” Locally she makes refreshments for the international student parties from the Newman Center at the University of South Carolina.

Khoury participates in church fund raisers, from guild-financed charities for the community to national association campaigns. She has collected money for the March of Dimes, the South Carolina Heart Association and the Cancer Society, and donated food and supplies to Family Shelters, the Women’s Center and the Ronald McDonald House.

A member of the Adoration Society since its beginning, Khoury spends one hour a week in prayer and adoration.