PALM BEACH GARDENS | “Do Ordinary Things with Extraordinary Love,” the words of St. Teresa of Kolkata, was the theme of the 37th annual Palm Beach Diocesan Council of Catholic Women convention May 12-13 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Palm Beach Gardens.
Council women throughout the diocese gathered for camaraderie and to share their joy in celebrating a fruitful year of service in their parishes.
Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito presided at the installation Mass, with Tammy Farr, Florida Council of Catholic Women president, leading the installation of the incoming DCCW officers: Dorothy Harper, president; Teresa Cecil, vice president; Denise Lamberti, secretary; and Claire Peterson, treasurer.
The keynote speaker, Jim Towey, author of “To Love and Be Loved: A Personal Portrait of Mother Teresa” and CEO and founder of Aging with Dignity, gave a moving presentation on the importance of motherhood in today’s world.
“I think it is beautiful that you women are here in the month of May dedicated to our Blessed Mother,” he said, adding, in today’s world “we see a breakdown in the understanding of the beauty and power of motherhood.”
Towey encouraged the council women to recognize the privilege they have “to be living a vocation of motherhood at a time like this,” and being “a living expression of the motherhood of Mary.”
“I think Mother Teresa was the most Mary-like person since Mary,” he said. When St. Teresa received Communion and went out to the “brokenness of society,” she was working for Jesus himself “disguised as the poorest of the poor.”
At the convention banquet, Doreen Recco, outgoing DCCW president, welcomed everyone and congratulated Father Clem Hammerschmitt, diocesan spiritual adviser, with a cake for his 50th priestly anniversary. Another surprise was having the diocesan seminarians join the council women at the dinner.
When Recco introduced each seminarian — Deacon Joshua Martin, Deacon Serge Dube, Jedidiah Preble, Jude Okeke, Dylan McKay, Tommy Ageeb and Saul Guerrero, along with newly ordained Father Marc Gustinelli and Father Daniel Daza-Jaller, diocesan director of vocations — they were greeted with appreciative applause from the council women.
Three DCCW scholarship recipients were awarded $1,000 scholarships: Olivia Jean Lewis of St. Helen in Vero Beach, who will attend John Carroll High School; Anita Romanella of St. Ann in West Palm Beach, who will attend Cardinal Newman High School; and Gianna Pontillo of St. Vincent Ferrer in Delray Beach, who will attend St. John Paul II Academy in Boca Raton.
Congratulating the scholarship winners, Bishop Barbarito thanked the CCW members for all of their hard work and volunteer hours.
Another highlight of the evening was when council woman Janet Downs presented a mock check to the bishop representing the total number of CCW volunteer hours, worth almost $6,552,480.
Another guest invited to speak was Julianne Farrell, DCCW leadership chairwoman and longtime St. Sebastian CCW member, who gave encouragement and direction to the council women on how to increase membership.
Farrell said she has applied “the gifts God has given me through my former career in promoting our wonderful organization, by supporting, empowering and educating all Catholic women.” While speaking at the convention, she wore gardening attire to emphasize that women “have to cultivate” new members, comparing it to planting and cultivating a garden.
For more information on the Palm Beach Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and parish affiliates, visit https://pbdccw.org.