Bishop James P. Powers stands with Pax Christi nominees: left to right, Mary Federle of St. Mary, Bruce; Rose Haas of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, East Farmington; Mary Joan Sutton of St. Bridget, River Falls; Katie Waldal of St. Patrick’s, Hudson; and Kathleen Carli of Sacred Heart, Radisson. After lunch, Pax Christ nominees were introduced and Waldal was announced as the winner. The mother of seven was accompanied by her husband, Tim, and their infant daughter, Catherine. Stories on each of the nominees will be published in upcoming publications. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski.)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

Members of the Council of Catholic Women in the Diocese of Superior and the Diocese of Duluth came together ‘In Solidarity’ for a Joint CCW Convention May 22 at The College of Saint Scholastica, Duluth.

The day of “spirituality, celebration and unity” featured Mass with both bishops, keynote addresses from speakers Maria Johnson and Dale Ahlquist, catered meals and more.

Superior Diocesan CCW President Barbara Gagliardi has received “nothing but compliments about the convention.”
Saying this was the best convention in years for both dioceses, she added, “It seemed to me the Holy Spirit was very present. It felt like all the women present were as sisters.”

Consistent with CCW spirit, much attention was paid to hospitality and numerous details. A representative from Real Presence Radio shared information at a booth and vendors offered a variety of goods, including olive wood statuary from the Holy Land, upcycled vintage jewelry with religious medals and Catholic greeting cards.

Author and speaker Maria Johnson told the story behind her first book, “My Badass Book of Saints,” a compilation of saintly and secular personal heroes.

A natural storyteller, she read passages from her latest book, “Super Girls and Halos.” She said the purpose of the book was to give women the “tools to be better, to be heroic, to recognize our mission” and the call to be present-day Christian heroes.

Johnson ended by speaking of Mary’s example in the Visitation and the importance of women’s presence for and with each other.

“Every act of mercy on our part as women, every act of love is a reenactment of the Visitation,” she concluded.

Mass was concelebrated by the bishops of both the Duluth and Superior dioceses, Bishop Paul D. Sirba and Bishop James P. Powers, respectively, in line with the historical nature of the joint convention. The Superior Diocesan Chorale led the music for the liturgy.

Bishop Powers spoke candidly about the relevance of the day’s readings, summing up the theme that greatness comes from humility.

He said, “One of the easiest traps for each of us to fall into is that belief that if we even halfheartedly try to live that life that God wants us to, that it should be easy and we should receive all kinds of kudos and accolades.” He preached the continued need to “submit yourself to God, purify your hearts.”

Bishop Powers drew on the new Marian feast of the day before, that of Mary, Mother of the Church. He commented on Mary’s humility – not seeking for others to recognize her greatness but giving the example as the Lord’s handmaid.

“On behalf of myself, Bishop Sirba and your parish priests, I want to thank each and every one of you present here, and those active members back home. (We) thank you for who you are, thank you for what you do,” Bishop Powers said.

He acknowledged in detail the wide array of efforts and undertakings of the CCW, especially those acts of service and hospitality that go unnoticed.

For the installation of new officers for the Diocese of Superior, the bishop invited their counterparts from the Diocese of Duluth to join in the renewal of their promises.

Dale Ahlquist’s afternoon keynote address incorporated humor in keeping with the talk’s title, “The Laughing Prophet,” in reference to his subject, G. K. Chesterton. He said that the first time he was invited to speak on Chesterton was two decades ago by the local CCW chapter in West Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The co-founder of the American Chesterton Society shared how he was introduced to the early 20th century English writer by chance, reading Chesterton’s book “The Everlasting Man” while honeymooning in Rome. A Baptist at the time, Ahlquist felt he was “encountering a writer unlike any other” and wondered how he had not once been exposed to the renowned thinker during his college education.

“He had a way of packing into one sentence a profound and eternal thought,” Ahlquist said. He shared that, while Chesterton seemed to have been forgotten within one generation – “too literary for the theological people, too theological for the literary people” – he seems to be more relevant today than even in his own time.

The speaker, who hosts an EWTN series and publishes a magazine both dedicated to Chesterton, read various quotes. One of the final passages Ahlquist recited was:

“Teach them the truth that has been proved from one generation to the next, because education is simply truth in the state of transmission.”

Information was provided for upcoming CCW events. The National Convention to be held from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 in Pittsburgh. Next year’s Superior Diocesan CCW Convention will be June 17-18 in Medford. More information is available at