COLUMBIA—Women from around South Carolina experienced a weekend of faith, fellowship and inspiration at the 87th annual convention of the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women held March 23-26 at the Columbia Marriott.
This year’s theme was “Voice of Hope, Blessings, Mercy and Love.” The convention also celebrated the centennial of the Blessed Mother’s appearance to three children at Fatima.
During the weekend, participants attended an event at the Columbia Museum of Art, took part in a variety of workshops, and attended liturgies celebrated by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and Oratorian Father Fabio Refosco.
The organization’s two most anticipated awards were given out at the convention banquet on March 25.
Anna Sudomerski, a member of St. Peter Church in Beaufort and mother of four, was named the 2017 Catholic Woman of the Year. Sudomerski is a native of New Mexico and served for four years in the U.S. Marines in Beaufort and Japan. She left the military after the birth of her second child, and moved to Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then Okinawa, Japan, where her husband Douglas Sudomerski was stationed with the U.S. Marines.
Sudomerski was active in military Catholic communities in both places. She helped organize Cursillo events and days of reflection, and received the Medal of the Archdiocese for the Military Services.
Her family moved back to Beaufort in 2000 and Sudomerski became an active volunteer at local military chapels and schools. She attended the Institute for Parish Leadership and Development in 2003, worked part-time at the Parris Island Commissary and coordinated food donations to the Franciscan Center. Her family joined St. Peter Church in 2007. She is very active in the parish, serving as a sacristan, a lector, a greeter, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and a member of the parish council and auxiliary member of the Legion of Mary. She helped organize the church’s first annual “Night of Love” overnight prayer vigil in 2016 and has been a leader for St. Peter’s Women of the Parish.
Sudomerski, who is bilingual, coordinates the Hispanic music ministry and is involved with the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration. She also organizes the Vocation Chalice Program and is a volunteer at Our Lady’s Pantry.
“There were so many good women nominated who love the Church and love God, and I was humbled to receive the award,” Sudomerski said. “I feel that daily prayer and attending daily Mass has helped me to be who I am. It is important to keep God number one in your heart and realize God is the one who gives you the strength to give to family and to give to others.”
Franciscan Sister Mary Frances Cannon received the honor of 2017 Woman Religious of the Year. She currently serves as pastoral associate at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Anderson, where she has worked since 2010. At the parish, she serves as director of religious education, prepares students for confirmation and leads Bible studies for women. Her ministry extends into the community as well. She is a board member for Anderson County Emergency Soup Kitchen and volunteers at Clean Start, a local program that offers laundry services, haircuts, and showers for the homeless. Sister Mary Frances also brings the Eucharist to men and women held at the Anderson City Jail and serves as a chaplain for local hospitals and hospice programs.
A native of Spartanburg, she joined the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y., and took final vows in 2006. She taught for three years at St. Anthony of Padua School in Greenville and has also been a leader in the Cursillo movement.
“It is such a privilege to do what I am doing,” Sister Mary Frances said after receiving the award. “I love working with the poor, I love working in my parish and I love the ministry to people at the jail. Through my work, I strive to bring hope to people in a world where hope is not easily seen. Our world is in need of peace and mercy, and that is what I try to bring.”
During the weekend, Chris Segars was elected as the new president of the SCCCW, and Thesa Briggs as treasurer.
The convention also raised more than $8,000 for the Diocesan Missionary Team.
Top photo: From left, Sheila Hopkins, president of the National Council of Catholic Women, stands with Anna Sudomerski, Catholic Woman of the Year for 2017, and Oratorian Father Fabio Refosco.