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‘Spiritual birthday cake’ celebrates NCCW 101 years

Members of the Council of Catholic Women from St. Lucie Parish in Port St. Lucie enjoy the leadership training conference Oct. 2 at Holy Family in Port St. Lucie. Katie Kisielewski, St. Lucie CCW president and Northern Deanery recording secretary, standing right, is shown with Patti Flett, Roni Decker, Wendy Mack, Joey Blizzard and Diane Kretsch.

PORT ST. LUCIE  |  It was a day of camaraderie and training Oct. 2, 2021, at the Palm Beach Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s 2021 Leadership Conference. 

It was also a day to “bake a spiritual birthday cake” celebrating the National Council of Catholic Women’s 101st anniversary. Women from CCW-affiliated parishes all over the diocese attended the conference. The parish hall at Holy Family in Port St. Lucie was filled with council women eager to learn.

Tammy Farr, newly elected Florida Council of Catholic Women vice president and Palm Beach DCCW spirituality chair, welcomed everyone. “You are a true asset to our councils. Today, we are here to help you to have a better understanding of how councils work together, from national down to your affiliations with every single level, making a difference in our communities,” Farr said. “The U.S. bishops really knew what they were doing 101 years ago when they formed the Council of Catholic Women because, as we all know, the women are the backbone of our parishes.” 

A decorated "cake" depicts the various levels of affiliations that make up the Council of Catholic Women.

Doreen Recco, newly elected Palm Beach DCCW president, greeted the group. 

“Welcome to the leadership ‘bakeshop,’” she said. “Today, we are making a birthday cake for the National Council of Catholic Women, and it says ‘we will be celebrating our 100th,’ but we missed that because of COVID, so we celebrated our anniversary birthday on March 4, 2020.”

One by one, the council leaders placed their “cake ingredients” into the bowl to make the batter. The ingredients were joy, caring, giving, spirituality, voice, members and difference. 

“The cake batter, this is the members. Members are the cake ingredients and the foundation for building our cake,” Recco said. “Without members, there would be nothing.”

Six layers of cake were “baked,” representing different partnerships: parish affiliations; Northern, Southern and Central Deanery affiliations; Palm Beach DCCW; Florida CCW; National CCW, governing and passing on information to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and the World Union of Catholic Women, their voice on the international level. 

The DCCW’s service projects represented the candles on the cake. 

“Now, we have a beautiful cake that we all helped to bake and decorate,” Recco said.

Afterward, the council chairwomen went into different rooms for their leadership training, followed by a break for lunch. The conference resumed after lunch. 

During the Palm Beach Diocesan Council of Catholic Women's training conference, women learned leadership skills to bring back to their parish CCW groups.

Myrna Wong, newly elected Florida Council of Catholic Women president/province director, Province of Miami, attended the leadership conference as a trainer/leader. She has held many leadership positions within the diocese and statewide. 

“As president/province director, Province of Miami, I work with all the seven dioceses in the state of Florida as their leader on the FCCW board,” Wong said. “I am humbled and very honored to hold this position, and will do my best to uphold all of the guidance of NCCW and its members.”

Dorothy Harper, president of St. Patrick CCW in Palm Beach Gardens and Central Deanery president, said, “I am here today in a leadership position and have been for over 20 years. Every time I come to the leadership training, I learn something new.”

Several others from St. Patrick Parish participated in the day of training, including Patti Amann, who is spirituality chair of the Palm Beach DCCW and worked as a trainer.

“We each have an affiliate chair, a deanery chair and diocesan chair. I train all the spirituality chairs today,” she said.

Janet Richards, DCCW vice president from St. Patrick, said, “It is wonderful to get together with everybody. It is important that we are all on one page on how we run our meetings.” 

Other St. Patrick members attended the event to learn leadership skills and greet the other parish affiliated CCW members, including Betty Mullen.  

“I am so happy I came here today,” she said. “I wanted to support my CCW, and I want to learn more about leadership.”

Irene McDuffee said, “I came today because I needed the leadership training in order to do a complete job and find out what is expected of me.”

St. Lucie Parish in Port St. Lucie had a large membership turnout. St. Lucie CCW president and Northern Deanery Recording Secretary Katie Kisielewski was happy to see so many council women attend the event.

“We have such a large group because our council is very active. Our ladies want to learn, and we are extremely supportive,” she said.  

The Palm Beach DCCW is an active group of Catholic women of all ages that is part of a larger membership of more than four million worldwide. For more information, visit their website at www.pbdccw.org