By NANCY CZABALA
CHARLESTON — After a lifetime of serving the church, “since confirmation,” Harriett Condon was installed as province director for the Atlanta Province at the National Council of Catholic Women General Assembly Oct. 1-4 in Dearborn, Mich. The two-year position is rotated among the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Diocese of Savannah and the Diocese of Charleston, the three active dioceses of the Atlanta Province.
Condon was chosen by her peers to join the other 25 province directors across the United States. She, in turn, asked Joan Mack to be her province secretary. Mack contemplated the request for a few weeks and decided to stand along side Condon to make some much needed changes in the province.
Condon, a member of the Cathedrel of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, guides young minds by day as principal of St. John’s in North Charleston. Mack, a parishioner at St. Patrick’s in Charleston, also works in the education field as media resources coordinator at the College of Charleston. A convert since 1960, Mack has made her place in the church through years of participation in just about every capacity imaginable.
Both women were once chosen as “Catholic Woman of the Year” by the South Carolina Council of Catholic of Women for their participation and dedication to family, parish and community. They have both served at the parish, diocesan and deanery levels.
With this latest installment, the two have set out on a journey to inform and educate women across the province. They agreed that the first step is communication, acquainting women with the National Council of Catholic Women and the outstanding services and projects that benefit its members and the needy throughout the world.
Information that comes down from the national level, runs the risk of losing significant pieces, as it travels through the province level to the diocesan onto the deanery and finally the parish level.
Parish women’s guilds and circles focus on community project, as members pitch in to collect food, money, whatever is needed, but often don’t realize that they are ultimately working for a bigger picture. The national level, even the international level, the World Union of Catholic Women, channels its efforts to empower women and help people on a worldwide scale.
Resources that come down from NCCW, including service projects, educational workshops and leadership opportunities, offer women at the parish, deanery and diocesan levels a wealth of knowledge and an open door for women who want to make a difference.
“Since 1960, coming into the religion, going through confirmation, working with kids and grandkids through their Catholic education, I felt I knew all I should know,” said Mack. “But going through each level (of the NCCW) I seem to be more inspired, more aware, more spiritual. It creates an atmosphere of better understanding.”
An outstanding figure in the Catholic community herself, Mack said, “I was very moved to be asked by Harriett to be the province secretary. I’m learning so much from her.” If there is ever anything you want to know about Catholic women and getting involved, Mack would point you in the direction of Condon.
Condon is set on a mission to inform those in her trust in the Atlanta Province about the bigger picture — the idea that parish-level members are actually working for and toward the goals of larger group, the NCCW. She attends national meetings picking up the latest information on workshops and projects to inplement in the province.
The Global Solidarity program focuses on local parishes setting up projects to reach out internationally to people in need. The NCCW has sustained a 50-year relationship with Catholic Relief Services under which many diocesan projects have been put in place at the parish level, including the Madonna Plan and the Water Plan that supplies life necessities.
Workshops that were recently discussed at the national meeting include death and dying, the aging process and physician-assisted suicide. Hopefully, with the help of the province director and secretary ideas like these and many others will filter down to the diocesan and parish levels.
Leadership seminars and opportunities are waiting for interested women.
“We need leaders to inspire young people to take the lead,” said Mack
Opportunities that the NCCW and SCCW offer, goals and plans will be passed down through a newsletter that Condon and Mack plan to implement during their tenure.
“We need to make a connection between the national level and the parish level and get information to the parishes,” said Condon.
A province workshop is also among their plans. It will bring together women in the province and enable them to learn more about their faith, themselves and each other.
“The greatest reward for me has been the knowledge and the friendships that I’ve gained.” said Condon. “It’s amazing that everyone has so much in common.”