DeKalb Deanery Honors Women of Inspiration
By Louise Brass, Observer Correspondent
September 26, 2019
MAPLE PARK—Four women from four parishes in the DeKalb Deanery were honored as Women of Inspiration Sept. 22 at a dinner at Sorrento’s Restaurant here.
 
Bishop David J. Malloy and priests from local parishes, along with numerous representatives of parish Councils of Catholic Women attended.
 
“There’s been a series of this kind of gathering honoring the women. I am very grateful for the turn out, for the support,” Bishop Malloy said following the dinner.
 
“This is important for the Church. This is what it’s really all about,” he said.
 
Today the Catholic Church is under a lot of pressure, he noted, and staying true to the Church’s teachings that don’t change is important. “God got it right. It doesn’t change from century to century, or generation to generation,” he told the gathering.
 
“A lot of people are trying to pressure us to either change or to stay quiet, either socially or otherwise. This is a time when we have to rededicate ourselves to the faith. We have to be positive witnesses in the world that doesn’t want positive witnesses to the faith.
 
“We can do it and the Women of Inspiration are positive witnesses of the faith that flows from Jesus,” Bishop Malloy said.
 
The DeKalb Deanery Council of Catholic Women Women of Inspiration are:
 
– Frankie Russell of St. Mary in Sycamore
 
She helped start the Arts and Environment Committee at the parish, works to enhance the Church by hanging banners, organizing flower arrangements and changing the cloths of the altar to coordinate with the feast days and seasons. 
 
Russell is quick to point out, however, that she is not the only one. “There are a lot of women in the parish who are doing all kinds of things,” she says.
 
– Mary Johnson of St. Catherine of Genoa Parish in Genoa 
 
A life-long parishioner, she is the building and grounds manager. “I’ve been doing that for years. I take care of the garden. We put that in about maybe 15 years ago,” she said.
 
“My love for flowers and decorating the altar inspires me. Everybody enjoys the garden and it’s beautiful,” Johnson said.
 
– Anne Carson of St. Mary of the Assumption in Maple Park
 
She recently received an award for teaching for many years and continuing to be involved. “I have been a lector and recently started being a cantor,” she said.
 
“I credit the women who started the (women’s) guild 80 years ago. Other people are my inspiration,” Carson said.
 
– Mary Newhouse, SS. Peter and Paul in Virgil 
 
She attended SS. Peter and Paul for 20 years, but a few months ago began attending St. Mary Parish in Sycamore.
 
“I am very humbled and honored that they remembered me in SS. Peter and Paul Parish,” she said.
 
Helping others inspired her to be Director of Religious Education there, and do flower decorations in the church. “I like to think that I am friendly and encourage people, inviting people to be part of the ownership of the church,” she said.
 
It takes about three or four months to organize the annual event, led by Sandi Schmidt, president of the DeKalb Deanery CCW, with the help of secretaries and pastors of churches in the deanery, she said.
 
The event began here last year and attracted 60 people to the awards dinner, Schmidt said. 
 
“This year we had 85 people registered. I feel it is growing, and if it can continue a little bit more each year that’s okay.” 
 
Among guests were Msgr. Thomas Dzielak, spiritual director for the Rockford Diocesan Council of Catholic Women; Josie Whaley, president of the Rockford Diocesan Council of Catholic Woman and Susanne Nelson-Holmes of Edwardsville, director of the Chicago Province of the National Council of Catholic Women.