SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
In 2008, when Jean Kelly began attending Milwaukee Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women meetings she wasn’t quite sure what the organization was. She’d heard good things from friends at her home parish, St. Mary Visitation, and was curious.
What she found in MACCW were groups of Catholic women in every city across the state working to bring Christ more fully into their lives through education and awareness.
“When I got up close and saw the work these women were doing, I knew I wanted to be involved,” Kelly said, “I was thrilled that it went beyond Wisconsin and the National Council for Catholic Women existed.”
According to Kelly, the main function of NCCW and its local group, MACCW, is to educate Catholic women in all topics relating to spirituality, leadership, and service, and to provide programming and support to empower women to bring what they learn into their home parishes.
Kelly began by becoming a member, serving as the group’s treasurer and going to conventions in Milwaukee, Superior, Green Bay, Madison and La Crosse. She helped develop programming, retreats and leadership groups, and eventually served as president of MACCW. In 2015, Kelly was elected secretary of the National Council for Catholic Women, and served a two-year term.
Later this week, at the national convention that runs through Aug. 24 in Atlanta, Kelly will be installed as president of the National Council for Catholic Women, in the midst of a six-year commitment. Kelly served as president-elect for a term of two years in 2017, she will serve two years as president and two years as past president, and is excited to continue on with her mission to spread love and support.
“It’s not just me,” she said. “I’ve learned that there’s a whole world of women out there who are on fire with their faith and love. I can’t believe how many things are done by our members, but the camaraderie of the whole group holds us together.”
In recent years, the group has worked to provide much-needed items for homeless and women’s shelters, has expanded their domestic outreach awareness, and held panel discussions on teenage dating violence.
“It’s just the beginning,” Kelly said. “There’s nothing too small or too big for us to take on.”
Kelly’s installation as president will be a bittersweet occasion. A few years ago when her husband Jerry first got sick, Kelly wanted to step down and spend more time at home nursing him, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He’d been involved with the NCCW as long as she had; everyone who knew her knew him. He’d driven her to conventions and meetings for years, he prayed with her and worked alongside her through every cause.
“He saw the good it did me spiritually, I think, so we kept going even though it was a rough few years for him,” she said.
In September 2018, her husband of 31 years passed away, and it was then that she knew why he’d wanted her to stay involved.
“He wanted to keep me busy,” she said. “He knew that with this work I would always have purpose, and with these people I would never be alone.”
The MACCW and NCCW will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020; for more information, go online to www.maccw.com.