We begin the new year of 2023 on a note of optimism for our continued growth as an organization. We are all back together again after a difficult few years to continue our work to help the poor and marginalized of our communities and nation and to meet with each other to share ideas and resources in that effort. This year I begin a two-year term as your president and offer myself as your humble servant in order to keep alive the purpose and vision of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
I first became a Lady of Charity in 2008 after a very patient leader in our parish of St. Mary’s in Lancaster and the Diocese of Buffalo, waited until I graduated from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora New York with a Masters Degree in Pastoral Ministry. Mary Faulhaber persuaded me to join at a Ministry Fair at St. Mary’s and come to my first LOC meeting in September of that year. After a few months of attendance, I became the parish treasurer and eventually the president of our local group. Soon I joined our local Diocesan board as the Spiritual Moderator because our Daughter of Charity, Sister Mary Grace Higgins , was transferred out of Western New York. I was elected to the LCUSA Board in 2017 at the urging of Kathy Sieracki, an LCUSA board member at the time and an active leader in our Diocesan group, and have been on the board ever since as a Director in the Northeastern Region and President elect. I have had many jobs on the board including Nominations chair and Madagascar chair.
My own background before the Seminary was in education. I taught math, social studies, religion, and reading in Catholic schools for thirty-five years until I retired completely in June of 2015. I also taught religious education for a number of years at my home parishes of St. Joseph’s in North Tonawanda and St. Mary’s in Lancaster. I loved being a teacher and especially enjoyed being with the kids. I also am a Eucharistic Minister, a Lector, and a cantor at two local parishes. I have two children with my husband Mike, a daughter Michelle who is a doctor at Roswell Park Memorial Cancer Institute and a son Christopher who is the head computer technician at Windsong Radiology here in Western New York. I also have two wonderful grandchildren, twins Alexander and Evelyn age seven and a half, who are the “apple of grandma’s eye.” My husband Michael is a retired public librarian here in Erie County and we have been married for forty-eight years.
My goals for this year are to see an increase in our membership across the country. Like all volunteer organizations, we lost many members in the COVID Pandemic years, not just because of illness and death, but because of being shut down and not being together for meetings and events including our National Assembly held every year in a different region. 2022 was our first year back to an in person assembly in Knoxville Tennessee and it was a wonderful start. We all need to work on bringing back those who have not resumed their membership and attract new members. This will be a process but we need to stick with it and make the effort to let other ladies in our parishes and communities know of what we do and why we do it. Another goal is to expand the organization and implementation of Junior Ladies groups. Not only are Juniors our future but they are also our present. I have our own Juniors here at St. Mary’s as a perfect example of how hard the young ladies work to help those in need in our area. I would encourage all associations to begin the process of finding leaders to recruit and advise a Junior Ladies group. A third goal is to find ladies willing to be Advocacy representatives or liaisons for their region. Having someone to serve in this role is advantageous in finding causes and people to speak up for and support. Our own advocacy representative in the Northeast region, Marie Copeland in Albany New York, has done an outstanding job of communicating different issues and opinions and the local and federal agencies that support helping those who need a voice. Every region in our organization should have an advocacy liaison to help facilitate our efforts to support those in need. A fourth goal is to help clarify just how the National LCUSA board can help every association and parish group across the country. I find that there is often a disconnect between local and national representatives with the local groups, at times, not fully understanding just what the LCUSA does or can do to offer assistance, direction, and support for their local projects and activities. Serving on the National board is not just an honor but is a responsibility to help all Ladies of Charity groups recover from the pandemic and get back to full strength and purpose to approach their projects with vigor and commitment. If members of Ladies of Charity have questions they should be answered. A fifth goal is to have Ladies of Charity work closely with other organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul society for example, to better serve those in need in our communities.
In closing, I would like to say that I am looking forward to meeting as many ladies as I can, particularly at the upcoming Assembly in Buffalo New York in September of this year. A wonderful three days is being planned for everyone including a Day of Reflection led by our National Spiritual Advisor, Father Dick Gielow, to start things off. We sometimes forget that we are also ladies of prayer as well as ladies of action who work hard to meet the needs of the poor in our communities. Action without prayer is just work that needs to be done until it is. Our work as Ladies of Charity will never be done as long as the poor exist in our area, our country, and our world. Jesus told his disciples that “the poor will always be with you”. We need prayer and the support of God Our Father, Jesus His Son, and Mother Mary to continue what we do in every endeavor. St. Vincent, St. Louise, and St. Elizabeth Ann fully understood this and developed their ministries around their undying faith in the Will of God and the power of prayer to achieve their goals. Let us do the same.
Yours in Humility, Simplicity, and Charity,