After witnessing the vital work performed by various Catholic women’s organizations during World War I, the bishops called for the founding of the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) to bring the organizations together. This organization provided a unified voice for Catholic women, a national service program and the opportunity to reach out to others through a national organization.
The Milwaukee Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (MACCW), an affiliate of the NCCW, was founded in 1920.
The MACCW offers myriad opportunities for Catholic women in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to become involved in service to the community.
Jean Kelly, NCCW immediate past president and MACCW past president, continues to serve on the board of NCCW and brings programs and information to MACCW. While the pandemic halted some activities, the organization celebrated the 101st anniversary of its founding with a Mass celebrated by Bishop James T. Schuerman.
“COVID has made it difficult to see who is still active in our organization. However, we are contacting every parish to see if they still have a group and get a contact person to send information and invitations to,” said Kelly, a member of St. Mary’s Visitation, Elm Grove. “All parishes that have a group are part of our organization. We are starting to encourage individual membership now so information about upcoming events and our newsletters can go directly to them instead of their president and then (having to) wait for it to be handed down.”
Members of the executive committee meet regularly to plan events for MACCW. There are approximately four main events each year throughout the archdiocese.
“The Waukesha deanery has hosted a tour of churches in the past and an Ash Wednesday day of reflection that all members were welcome to attend,” Kelly said. “We try to rotate deaneries where we host our events. We have had past conventions in Fond du Lac and Racine as well as Elm Grove and Greenfield.”
Some of the upcoming events include:
- A March 22 Tea in honor of the mothers of seminarians. Members of the MACCW correspond with seminarians by sending cards for their birthdays, Christmas and their ordinations;
- A weekend retreat is planned for Oct. 14-16 with Bishop Donald J. Hying, the bishop of Madison, as their leader;
- Advent by Candlelight at St. Mary’s Visitation, Dec. 1;
- Annual $1,000 scholarships to three eighth-grade girls entering a Catholic High School; and
- Boxes of Joy through Cross Catholic — MACCW exceeded 500 boxes this year.
“We are currently planning the Layette Luncheon in late May or early June, where we have invited all parishes in the archdiocese. They are asked to bring layette items. We will distribute them to the area women’s centers, Life’s Connection, Women’s Care Center and others,” Kelly said. “We have asked our membership to provide us with the names of their local care centers.”
The organization recently met its goal of $20,000 toward the prayer space at the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus in Wauwatosa.
“In February 2019, we undertook the project and pledged to raise $20,000 over the next five years, but we finished it two years early,” Kelly said. “This will provide a prayer room for the sisters, guests and residents. We are very excited to be a small part of helping the sisters make their new ministry a reality.”
MACCW empowers and educates women through speakers, events and service opportunities. They are wives, mothers, daughters, friends, single women, workers, retirees and volunteers. The group is open to all Catholic women 18 and older looking to join like-minded women interested in collaboration and in bringing the issues and concerns of Catholic women, children and families to the attention of the USCCB, the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, the United Nations Department of Public Information and more.
The organization is comprised of parish organizations such as Christian Women, Christian Mothers, Elizabeth Ministry, Rosary Society and Altar Society. As a group, they offer Catholic women a voice and a place to gather, learn and serve.
Membership forms are available on the MACCW website, https://www.maccw.com/join-us. For questions about membership, contact Christine VanderBloemen, MACCW president, at
262-781-0382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.