Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Jonathan Martinez - Florida Catholic
Photography: JONATHAN MARTINEZ | FC
FORT LAUDERDALE | Nearly 100 women attended the 65th anniversary celebration of the Miami Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (MACCW), a day-long event that also served as their annual convention.
According to its website, MACCW acts through its membership to support, empower and educate all Catholic women in spirituality, leadership, and service. Since 1958, the Council has served the Church and communities of South Florida through action in religious, educational, social, and economic fields. MACCW’s goal is to unite all the parish women’s groups in the archdiocese in purpose, direction and action.
“Your support and empowerment of women to be spiritual leaders and of service to the Church are a great support to the archbishop, priests, and parishes,” said Miami Auxiliary Bishop Enrique Delgado, who gave the blessing at the luncheon. “I want to call on the presence of the Holy Spirit to bless all women who participate in this Council to support their evangelization efforts.”
The theme of the April 29, 2023 convention was “Our mission is singular, to be united with Mary as our guide.”
One of the main speakers was Susie Hartling from the National Council of Catholic Women, who spoke to the attendees about the connection between their mission and the Blessed Mother and how they are following in Mary’s footsteps.
“I hope the women go home and they recognize the difference between each member, respect the differences between each member, and think about the importance of being together following Mary’s mission,” said Hartling. “My hope is that they continue to come together to do God’s work as a unit.”
During her presentation, she did an exercise with them which involved each person getting a rock. She asked everyone to analyze the rock and describe it. Her point was that collectively, the rocks make up a beautiful garden, but they are each different. Similarly, each person has different personalities and characteristics, but when working together toward a common mission, all those traits come together to make a beautiful garden.
During the convention luncheon, the MACCW also announced the winners of its scholarship fund, and the recipients of the Golden Rose and Our Lady of Good Counsel awards.
The MACCW scholarship fund was established in 1996, and since then has awarded over $341,000 to 76 eighth grade girls seeking to continue their education in a Catholic high school. The recipients this year will receive $4,000 each toward their tuition and fees.
This year’s recipients are:
- Sasha Jean-Felix, from St. Mary Cathedral School in Miami. In recommending her for the scholarship, her principal, Julie Perdomo, said Sasha, who began her Catholic education in kindergarten at St. Mary's, has grown into a mature young lady who enjoys being involved in a variety of school activities while maintaining academic excellence. Perdomo said Sasha displays virtue, character, and strong moral values. In her essay, Sasha said she hopes to repay her parents in the future and getting a good Catholic education will help her do that. Her goal is to have excellent grades and become valedictorian in high school. She has chosen to attend Immaculata-LaSalle High in Miami because it is very welcoming and will help her to continue to build her relationship with God.
- Christine Bien-Aime, from St. James School in North Miami. Her principal, Lori Bryant, wrote that Christine is a hard-working and polite student, self-motivated, who takes great pride and value in her education. Bryant said Christine exemplifies the best characteristics of a well-rounded student: an honor student, a lead lector at her parish, a cheerleader and a safety patrol. She will be attending Msgr. Edward Pace High in Miami Gardens.
- Milagros Funes, from St. Lawrence School in North Miami Beach. Her principal, Stephanie Paguaga, said there is no more deserving student than Milagros, whose Catholic values are a foundation of who she is. Milagros displays teamwork and leadership skills through her involvement in school, church, and as a member of many clubs. Her goal is to go to a university, have a good career, travel the world, and much more. Milagros will be attending Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory in Hollywood.
- Ashley Elvir-Lainez, from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs School in Fort Lauderdale. Her principal, Althea Massop, said that Ashley has attended Our Lady Queen of Martyrs since pre-K4 and excelled in academics, citing her drive and focus. Ashley also participated in the art, drama and culture clubs, Girls Who Code and the Catholic youth group. She likes to help her teachers and enjoys tutoring students in younger grades. She will be attending St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.
This year’s conference also had two Golden Rose recipients. The first was Khloe Paredes, a graduating senior at Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School in Miami and a member of the National Honor Society. Her mother, Dolce Paredes, received a blue rose, the blue hue representing the colors of the CCW.
The second Golden Rose recipient was Sara Rodriguez, a graduating senior at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami and a member of multiple non-profit organizations. Her mother, Daniela Martinez, from St. Thomas the Apostle Church, also received a blue rose.
In addition to receiving the Golden Rose and a certificate, both received a one-year membership as students to the National Council of Catholic Women.
The final recognition at the convention was the Our Lady of Good Counsel award, the MACCW’s highest honor. Recipient Annya Fernandes Koszas received a pin and a statue of the Virgin Mary. She is from All Saints Church in Sunrise and serves as parliamentarian for the parish women’s group. Born in Cuba in 1942, she emigrated to the U.S. in 1960 and has been involved in multiple facets of Church life, including the Council of Catholic Women for over 60 years.
“I feel very much honored and humbled that I have received this award from the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women,” said Koszas, who began her involvement with the CCW in the Orlando Diocese in 1988. “I hope that the women here take advantage of the opportunity of growing spiritually as well as in leadership and service. There are three main components of the Council of Catholic Women that have been a part of my development over the years. One is spirituality, the second is leadership, and the third is service, and they all go together. It’s not like one is above the others; they all go together.”
The awards were presented by Bishop Delgado and by Karen Lorenzen, MACCW president. Also celebrating with the attendees was Father Michael Greer, spiritual director of the group and pastor of Assumption Church in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.