Women’s meeting to focus on dignity

By Catholic New World
Sunday, November 6, 2011

The National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) will hold their annual convention in Chicago Nov. 9-12. It is open to all Catholic women interested in spiritual enrichment, leadership development and service to the church and society. Congregation of St. Joseph’s Sister Helen Prejean, a national advocate for the abolition of the death penalty will deliver the keynote. Registration information is available at

Hilary Anderson, a contributor to the Catholic New World, recently spoke with Patty Johnson, the National Council of Catholic Women’s current president, about the organization’s objectives and upcoming convention, which will focus on its Campaign for Human Dignity.

Catholic New World: What is the National Council of Catholic Women?

Patty Johnson: The NCCW is an organization that began in 1920 and through its members acts to serve and help women and children. It works to support, empower and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service. We do this by responding with Gospel values to the current needs of the church and society in the modern world.

CNW: How did you become involved in NCCW?

Johnson: I have been part of the organization for 47 years and look at my involvement as a way of serving the church and answering my baptismal call. I believe we all have a special calling from God to spread the messages we find in Scripture. Every article I write is prefaced or has some relationship to a scriptural verse.

CNW: Much has changed during the past 90 years. How has the NCCW changed?

Johnson: We stay current with the priorities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Actually many of the issues important in the 1920s are still important today such as immigration, the needs of the women and children, preventing poverty and pro-life concerns.

CNW: The theme of NCCW’s convention is “Campaign for Human Dignity: Love in Action.” What is that?

Johnson: The Campaign for Human Dignity, launched in 2010, encompasses several issues. One is to protect marriage and families by working to end pornography, especially through the Internet and cell phones. Others include ending the trafficking of human persons, promoting pro-life and sharing the church’s teaching on Blessed Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body.

Other issues are comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform that protects families and education about a Catholic response to climate change and its disproportionate effect on the poor.

CNW: Who are your members?

Johnson: There are two categories of membership. One consists of nearly 4,000 affiliated Catholic women’s organizations in parishes and dioceses throughout the United States. Each of those organizations has its group of members. The other is individual membership, which comprises approximately 4,000 members who pay individual dues and receive the benefits of individual membership.

CNW: How is the NCCW attracting new members?

Johnson: We are an active, positive organization always looking for new members. One of our outreaches to younger members is through the directors of religious education. They have their pulse on catechists, youth ministers and others in their parishes who might be working on Catholic social-justice projects and issues. We ask young Catholic women to join us with individual memberships and prayer.

One of the major benefits of membership in our organization is the fellowship and support we give women in all stages of their lives. We are always there for each other.