GREENVILLE — The 75th annual convention of the S.C. Conference of Catholic Women was dedicated to the late Msgr. Thomas Duffy, long a deanery moderator for the SCCCW, and held in remembrance of the late Pope John Paul II. The conference was held at the Embassy Suites April 15 – 17.
The big news of the convention was the selection of the Catholic Woman of the Year at Saturday’s banquet, and the Woman Religious of the Year at the Sunday awards ceremony.
Elease Amas-Goodwin of St. Patrick Church in Charleston is the Woman of the Year for 2005.
Sister Roberta Thoen, principal of St. Michael School in Garden City, is the new Religious Woman of the Year. Sister Thoen is the founding principal of the parish school.
Amas-Goodwin has compiled a list of good deeds and church-affiliated memberships that sounds as if it belongs to five people. She is a member of St. Patrick’s pastoral council, an officer in the parish Women’s Guild and in the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver.
She has been involved in numerous outreach activities and organized both an ecumenical prayer breakfast and the first statewide meeting of black Catholic women with the diocesan ordinary.
The Woman of the Year and all the women at the SCCCW convention had plenty to occupy them during the three-day event. According to Ruthann Howard, SCCCW treasurer, the Saturday workshops were incorporated into one plenary session run by St. Patrick parishioner Joan Mack, who is the provincial chair for the National Conference of Catholic Women and a radio show host on South Carolina’s ETV Radio.
“Something else new added this year by our president, Cherrin Moore, was a reflection room,” Howard said. “It’s a place where we could write in the Intention Book, renew our spirit and catch a little quiet time with God between events.”
That quiet time was appropriate, since the theme of the 75th convention was “Be still and know that I am God,” according to convention chair Jessie Bowens of St. Anthony of Padua in the host city.
The keynote speaker for the convention, Pamela I. Niesslein, a dean at the College of Charleston, told a parable about another kind of convention, one of the devil and his evil angels. Their theme was “Keep Christians so busy that they cannot hear the small, still voice of God.” Niesslein spoke about the influence of the Theresians, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and the Cursillo movement in her life.
“They forever changed me. I can now see the movement of God in my life,” she said.
Niesslein urged the convention participants to recognize and use the gifts God has bestowed on each human being. “To deny your gifts is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit,” she said.
After her speech, Moore said that the speaker “took me on a journey.”
Bishop Robert J. Baker celebrated Mass for the SCCCW at St. Mary Church (when new officers were sworn in) and also gave some brief remarks at the Saturday night banquet.
He previewed a document now being written which will revisit the 1995 Synod of Charleston and plan for the future of the Church of Charleston.
The name of the new diocesan document, “Much Awaits Us,” was taken from an encyclical of Pope John Paul, “Novo Millennio Inuente.”
The document provides information about the state of the South Carolina diocese since the Synod and changes in the five years since Bishop Baker was ordained as ordinary. It uses the papal encyclical, synodal documents and the bishop’s own letters and themes to outline a vision for the next five to 10 years.
“It will be an effort at rekindling the depths of our faith that John Paul emulated so well for us,” the bishop told the women.
He also thanked them for being “the backbone of our society.” Bishop Baker called their work for the church “edifying for all of us.”
Also presented at the convention was a history of the SCCCW, written by Cecilia M. Velte and titled “Celebrating 75 Years of Service to the Honor and Glory of God.”
Velte included memories from past presidents since 1948 and from the state moderator for the past 20 years, Father William F. Pentis.