Catholic women love God by serving community

Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss

Miscellany/Christina Lee KnaussMYRTLE BEACH—Dedication to loving and serving others is one of the most important ways to honor God.

More than 200 women focused on that theme and honored peers who volunteer at parishes and in their communities during the 81st annual convention of the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women.

Held March 11-13 at the Embassy Suites in Myrtle Beach, the theme was “Giving of Themselves through Simple Gifts.” It was highlighted by a quote from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love.”

The convention was dedicated to Peggy Waters, a 47-year member of St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach who has won numerous awards for her volunteer work in the parish and community.

Three of the workshops focused on themes of spirituality, service and leadership.

Father Stanley Smolenski, director of the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina—Our Lady of Joyful Hope, spoke on “The Kingstree Shrine: A School of Mary, Woman of the Eucharist.”

He said a pilgrimage or day of prayer at the shrine can help women renew their focus on Mary and her role in the life of the church.

As a convention project, the women raised more than $3,000 to donate to the shrine and its upkeep.

Another workshop was “The Victim Next Door,” by Kelly O’Neill-Bagwell, president of the Eastern Carolina Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

She said trafficking is a worldwide problem affecting millions of people, noting that coastal and resort areas like Myrtle Beach are often centers of human trade because they have transient populations.

Board member Joan Mack discussed the importance of communication and leadership skills. She and Christine Moore then officially launched the council’s new website,

Designed by Moore, the page offers information about council history, events, membership and service opportunities.

Mack said the site is part of an overall attempt to raise awareness about SCCCW and its activities, and to attract more members. The council is also reaching out through Facebook.

Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in North Myrtle Beach was celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, who also spoke at the annual convention banquet on March 12.

He thanked the women for all they do and encouraged them to reach out in other ways.

He encouraged participants to help college students grow in their faith, and to reach out to young families and others who need continued faith formation throughout their lives.

“You never get to the point where you can say the package is complete,” he said. “We cannot put the knowledge of God in a box and wrap it all up.”

Bishop Guglielmone said the church also needs more women to answer the call to religious life, and hoped that council members can help by forming discernment groups and other programs to reach out to those considering vocations.

Cherrin Moore, a member of St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom Church in Georgetown, was selected SCCCW Catholic Woman of the Year.

Other nominees were Maria Meyer Stephens, Coastal Deanery; Norma Dopson, Lowcountry Deanery; Marion Alexander, Midlands Deanery; and Alice Ramos, Piedmont Deanery.

Sister Canice Adams, a Sister of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, was named 2011 Religious Woman of the Year.