July 1, 2020
Dear Ladies of the Omaha Province of the Council of Catholic Women,
As the Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island, and on behalf of Bishop Emeritus William Dendinger, the priests, religious and lay faithful throughout the diocese, I want to express my congratulations to all of you who are members of the National Council of Catholic Women on your 100th Anniversary this year! While the unfortunate situation with the COVID-19 virus has limited our ability to gather for this historic moment, we are no less united in spirit as we rejoice in the legacy of faith and service that has marked the NCCW over these 100 years!
In our baptism we received the gift of faith. We can scarcely appreciate the value of such a great gift. As with all gifts, faith stirs in us a desire to make a response to the Lord for his goodness in our lives. For the women of the National Council of Catholic Women, their response has been a history of tremendous service. Through your commissions of leadership, service, and spirituality, you have built a notable legacy reflecting the true identity of the Catholic faith. Locally, nationally and internationally, yours has been a response of faith to the many circumstances and needs in the human family.
In our time, we live in a culture of exalted individualism. While society today seems to emphasize personal freedom over the common good, the National Council of Catholic Women can be proud of their concern for and ministry to others. With great sacrifice and dedication, you have gone beyond yourselves to care for and address the needs of women, families, domestic violence, human trafficking, the homeless and as pen-pals for the incarcerated, and more. Your support for religious vocations and your constant prayer for our seminarians is yet another hallmark of your Council.
As with most things in life, the NCCW is facing formidable challenges which can be disheartening and render us uncertain about the future. Challenges always cause us to re-evaluate our activities and may require us to alter our methods. Nevertheless, we must always resist discouragement with tireless faith, hope and love. Unlike other virtues that can be acquired with discipline and hard work, these virtues come from the Lord alone. Therefore, beg our Lord for an increase in these virtues and allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you.
Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5: 14-16) For 100 years the National Council of Catholic Women have done just that. You have put your light out there to honor the Lord and to care for others. Just as someone has shown you that light and inspired you to shine as well, may you continue this great heritage of faith and service, bearing the light of faith, hope and love to those in your homes, your parishes, the communities where you live throughout your diocese and to the world.
There is so much more to be done as we work together to build up the Kingdom of God in our time. I am so grateful for all the ways the National Council of Catholic Women has served the Church in this effort, especially here in Nebraska. Be assured of my prayers as you celebrate this milestone for the NCCW and my sincere gratitude for your leadership, service and the spiritual foundation that guides your lives.
As we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a)
Again, congratulations and may God bless you in His abundant love.
Most Rev. +Joseph G. Hanefeldt
Bishop of Grand Island
July 1, 2020