Coastal Deanery women meet, recognize Woman of the Year

Charleston — The Coastal Deanery of the Diocesan Council of Cath-olic Women held its annual meeting and luncheon Jan. 11 to recognize the work each women’s group has done in the deanery, the church, and the community over the past year.

The Coastal Deanery is one of five deaneries that make up the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women. The deaneries are comprised of women’s groups from local parishes. During this year’s event, held at the Riverview Hotel with more than 200 women in attendance, the Coastal Deanery’s Catholic Woman of the Year was honored. The award went to Catherine McDonough Clarey, vice president of the Ladies of St. Joseph.

“Choosing the annual winner is very, very difficult,” said Ann Mitch-um, council president. “All of the women who are nominated (by the individual parishes) are very involved, wonderful people.”

Mitchum said that the award is given to deserving women who “answer God’s call for service.” Nominees are then awarded points for church work, community service, and other standout achievements. This year’s winner will compete against other winners throughout the state in a March conference.

“We are very excited about this year’s conference because we will be hosting it this year,” said Mitchum. “It will be held at Embassy Suites in North Charleston.”

For Clarey this year’s award was unexpected.

“I was very surprised and had no idea I had won until I saw all my children coming in (to the hotel),” she said. “They had been gathering outside with the (Ladies of St. Joseph) president to all come in at the same time.”

Clarey has nine children, 26 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren who are “close and have been very good to me, and I love them very much,” she said.

Despite her large family, she still finds time to give much of her time in service, something that she learned as a child.

“I have volunteered since I was about 10 years old,” she said. “I remember during World War II when my mother had a group of young girls in our home making bandages, knitting squares to make afghans and sweaters for little children for the Junior Red Cross.

 “Winning makes me feel very humble,” said Clarey.

Other awards went to St. Patrick’s Women’s Guild, Stella Maris Women’s Guild, and the Ladies of St. Joseph.

“I am very pleased with the way everything went at this year’s event,” said Mitchum. “Everyone seemed very impressed overall.”