Four Banquets Honoring Parish Women Fall Victim to Virus in 2020
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
September 3, 2020
DIOCESE—The decision to postpone the final Women of Inspiration dinner in 2020 recently was made by the Rockford Deanery Council of Catholic Women (RDCCW).
It was the second date change for the deanery banquet, which had traditionally been held in January. At times the event had run into the Super Bowl and other times the threat of ice or snow threatened travelers. 
In 2019, deanery leadership made the decision to move the January 2020 event to November this year, only to have to postpone it again until 2021.
“With almost all events being cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with great regret” that the RDCCW postponed the 2020 Women of the Year banquet, said the letter from the 
RDCCW to deanery parishes.
“We know this comes as a disappointment to our honorees and their guests,” the letter explained, “but attendance at our annual event is almost 600 people, and in accordance with the current State of Illinois Stage 4 Guidelines, banquets of this size are not allowed.”
“We do have the honoree’s name from each parish,” says RDCCW president, Diane Roman. “We hope that the parishes will honor their woman in their own way.  These women will then be honored at our Women of the Year banquet to be held on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.”
At least three other similar, annual celebrations of parish women met the same fate earlier in 2020, all due to the COVID virus restrictions.
Aurora Deanery
Mary Glosson, Aurora Deanery president, and her board made the decision to cancel the August Women of Inspiration banquet back in June.
On the morning of June 12, Glosson noted she had to make a decision soon, and later that day, word came that “We are cancelling the dinner,” and that a date was being set for 2021. There is “so much unease,” she said that day. “Thank God we have our faith and each other.”
Glosson spoke about the decision the week after the Aurora banquet would have taken place.
“It was with sadness that we cancelled the Woman of Inspiration this year,” she says. “If we would have had the dinner we would have had to limit our guests, which would not be fair to the women who were chosen for this great honor.
“We look forward to honoring the women next year on Sunday, Aug. 22 at Pipers Banquets in Aurora. I appreciate the bishop’s and the pastors’ support.”
DeKalb Deanery
Sandy Schmidt of the DeKalb Deanery Council of Catholic Women was the driving force behind two annual Women of Inspiration dinners honoring women of that deanery. Those events, in 2018 and 2019, were held at a restaurant. 
The lack of a smaller convention facility in the deanery was a factor in the cancellation, she says, because attendees would not be able to socially distance.
The cancellation also was made in consideration for the safety of the mostly-older crowd that had attended the previous two events to honor their parish nominees.
“Everything is just so different,” Schmidt says, adding that she was happy to honor her own parish’s previous winners because “they just do whatever needs doing.”
The DeKalb Deanery CCW is aiming for September 2021 and is considering the idea of honoring parish women for both 2020 and 2021, she says.
McHenry Deanery
The annual McHenry Women of Inspiration event also has traditionally been a fall celebration, held the third week of September. 
Ann Schmidt, president of the St. Mary Parish women’s group in McHenry says there are tentative plans to honor this year’s women in some way at next year’s event. Four deanery parishes had chosen someone before the banquet was cancelled early in the summer. 
At her parish, Schmidt says, the honoree was “celebrated in a different way” this year, honored with a write-up in the parish bulletin and presented with flowers.
Schmidt and others of the deanery councils of Catholic women all look forward to 2021 when their deanery Women of Inspiration can be more completely celebrated.
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