By Dave Jolivet
ARLINGTON, Va. — At its annual convention on August 28, the National Conference of Catholic Women installed Beth Mahoney, a member of the Fall River Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, as NCCW President-Elect, beginning a six-year term with the longstanding Catholic women’s organization.
Mahoney is the first person from the Diocese of Fall River to be elected to this position, which includes two years as President-Elect, two as President, and two as Past President. She is also currently the principal at St. Stanislaus School in Fall River.
“I was excited to learn I was elected, a little surprised and very grateful,” Mahoney told The Anchor.
Mahoney, who is no stranger to the NCCW, having served on its board for the last six years; having chaired the Spirituality Commission and the Education Committee; and serving on the board as the Boston Province Director, chose to run for the office because she felt she had much to offer and to share with the organization and Catholic women across the country. “I believe my gifts of organizational skills and vision can help take the NCCW into its next century,” she said.
Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha told The Anchor, “For us it an true honor to have one of our own,” as NCCW president.
“For Beth, this is a service to the national organization that has served the Church for 100 years; for us it is a honor to have one of the members of our diocese elected for such an important national role. It brings the name of the Diocese of Fall River to a national scene.
“We are grateful to Beth for all she has done for our diocese, and now for all she will do for the NCCW.”
Under the auspices of the U.S. Catholic bishops, the NCCW was founded in March of 1920. According to the NCCW website (nccw.org), “The bishops had witnessed the important work done by Catholic women’s organizations during World War I and had the wisdom to call for the founding of NCCW to bring these organizations together. This gave U.S. Catholic women a unified voice, a national service program and the ability to reach out to each others through a national organization.”
Since 2020 was pretty much a lost year for many things, the NCCW’s 100th anniversary celebration was put off to this year, and when it convened in Arlington last month, it installed Mahoney as it marked a new century of service to the Church.
The nomination process began this past March when potential candidates submitted an application, a resume, a letter of intent, a letter from a past DCCW president, and a letter from the local bishop.
A review committee went through each of the applicants and whittled the nominees down to two and the election process ran from April 1 to May 1 of this year.
All women of good standing in the NCCW, the DCCWs and parish groups across the country, were eligible to vote, having access to the information each candidate submitted. Mahoney mentioned that they were also allowed to campaign, sending out flyers and more information about themselves.
“The NCCW is very strong today and we are working to continue and enhance the work we do,” said Mahoney. “We are strongly connected with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the projects they propose, as well as many Catholic women’s organizations in the U.S. and around the world.”
Closely aligned with the U.S. Catholic bishops, Vatican agencies and numerous women’s organizations across the country and around the world, the NCCW is a hands-on, pro-active organization that empowers women and brings women’s organizations and others together; among which include: Catholic Relief Services, Cross Catholic Outreach, Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Catholic Climate Covenant, Religious Alliance Against Pornography, Catholic Mobilizing Network, Bread for the World, U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, The Center for Concern’s Education for Justice, and National Catholic Educational Association.
“We are a unified voice,” said Mahoney, “that is strong in connectedness with the Catholic faith, and encyclicals and documents that come from the Vatican and directives from the USCCB.
“I truly desire to see more women want to become members and be part of a core group that advocates national projects to assist, improve and enhance the lives of all, particularly women, children and those most vulnerable.
“It’s important for women, locally and nationally to understand what the NCCW does and how it affects the lives of women in the Church.”
During Mahoney’s two-year stint as President-Elect, she will work with the current President, “shadowing” her and learning what needs to be done and how. “I will also be working with the wonderful staff at the new NCCW office in Fairfax, Va.,” Mahoney told The Anchor. “I’ll get to know the staff there and as President-Elect, I will chair the Convention Committee, handling the details of our annual get together. This year that will be in Minneapolis, Minn. in November.”
As President, Mahoney will be responsible for all NCCW happenings, programs and projects. And when the time comes for her role as Past-President, she will be in communication with former Past Presidents, examining what is working and what needs tweaking; a type of communication liaison for the NCCW.
With the current system, there are always three women with an executive role in the NCCW, another way to keep it strong and vibrant.
Mahoney told The Anchor that the organization has taken an active role in the USCCB pastoral letter, “Healing Racism.” “Our goal is to let local DCCWs know what the bishops are saying about ending racism in all forms, and let that information trickle down to the local level women and even to the parish level.”
As mentioned earlier, the NCCW is a pro-active group. It has programs that reach out to young women in college and high school to help make them aware of what the NCCW is and does and how it impacts them as women.
“We’re extending to them an invitation to get to know us and to know that we offer resources on many topics relevant to women and the family,” said Mahoney.
“I’m also very excited about a new type of outreach project geared toward elementary-age students, called Children of Mary Project. We reach out to young girls and teach them about our Blessed Mother and what service to the Church and to others is really like.”
Reaching out to young women and girls is vital because the world has changed a great deal since the NCCW’s inception a century ago. Back then, many young women and girls would attend DCCW or parish meetings with their grandmothers and mothers and perpetuate the organization with new generations of women.
Mahoney said that the NCCW has heard from women who attended with grandmothers and mothers and then for one reason or another, were no longer active. “But many said they felt the need to come back, and they have.”
But demographics, life-styles and other life hurdles have curtailed that dynamic, and the NCCW feels that by reaching out to youngsters, they can bring home the message to the family.
“Children are such great evangelizers,” Mahoney told The Anchor. “They absorb so much and they are excited to share that with people at home. We may not know what the children are learning and understanding, but the seeds are being planted.”
Mahoney will maintain her position as principal at St. Stanislaus as well as tackle the duties and responsibilities of her new NCCW post.
“I would just like to extend an invitation to all women to come and learn what the NCCW and the Diocese of Fall River’s DCCW are all about,” added Mahoney. “We have so much to offer. So many of our members have said that it feels wonderful sharing their gifts and talents, but they get even more back in return.”
For more information about the National Council of Catholic Women, visit nccw.org. For information about the Diocese of Fall River’s DCCW email Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org.