SCCCW conference provides an appreciation for God’s blessings

COLUMBIA—It takes prayer, vision and a positive attitude for any idea or organization to survive and the South Carolina Conference of Catholic Women is no different. At least that is what they learned at their 82nd annual convention held March 9-11 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia.

More than 150 women attended the event, which included prayer services, business meetings, and workshops on leadership and development led by members of the National Council of  Catholic Women.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass at Our Lady of the Hills Church and also attended the convention awards banquet March 10.

Suzanne Erpenbach of Tennessee was the guest speaker at the banquet. A council member at the state and national levels for more than 30 years, Erpenbach balances her active  membership with a career that has included nursing and a stint as stewardship director for the Diocese of Knoxville.

Erpenbach encouraged the attendees to be open to God’s work in their lives and nurture a willingness to accept His gifts.

“When you were born, your entire life was a prepackaged gift of God to you,” she said. “Isn’t  it amazing to develop a talent or a new ability? They are all part of God’s gift for you.”

She praised the council’s tradition of prayer and service to others, and told the women to use their gifts to encourage others to follow Christ’s teaching.

“Our call as Jesus’ disciples is to live with faith, hope and love as He taught,” she said. “Go out to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in your daily living and be the Christian leaders you are called to be!”

Iris Young of the Lowcountry Deanery was elected the 2012 Catholic Woman of the Year. Phyllis Atkins, a member of St. Francis by the Sea Church in Hilton Head, was elected SCCCW president. At  the convention’s closing, she said she hopes to make a phrase from a hymn, “Abba, father, you are the potter and we are the clay” the theme during her two-year-term, signifying a  commitment to let God’s will do His work through the council.

Atkins said she has learned a lot since joining the SCCCW and hopes to improve communication so members at every level can contribute.

“We are an organization of many voices, and each one counts,” she said.

The women raised $9,222 for their 2012 Convention project. The money will go to an effort by Cross International and the Daughters of Charity that builds homes for women who have often been abandoned by their husbands and families in Ethiopia.