Priest Has Enjoyed Being the DCCW Spiritual “Cheerleader”
February 9, 2023
For more than 30 years, Msgr. Thomas Dzielak has served as spiritual advisor to the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW).
The position was first called “moderator,” and he followed Father Richard Kramer into the ministry at t
The request of Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill in the late-1980s or early-1990s.
However, Msgr. Dzielak had been introduced to the DCCW long before. In 1978, Father William Regnier was DCCW moderator and wanted another priest to go with him to the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW) convention, that year held in Pittsburg. Then-Father Dzielak volunteered and once there was surprised to discover that the head of the convention was the sister of one of his Rome seminary classmates.
As DCCW spiritual advisor, “I work at the diocesan level,” Msgr. Dzielak says. “Spiritual advisors are to be available to the women in their work and spirituality. We (advisors) have no vote (but) can be part of the discussions at any level, even the NCCW.
“Mainly, we encourage them and support their work.”
He also is available for any DCCW Mass or other special event such as days of reflection. Such events were derailed by the pandemic, but hopes are to resurrect them soon.
“We’re kind of like spiritual cheerleaders,” he says. “It is really a wonderful organization. They are very loyal to the teachings of the Church, (which is) important to me.”
Msgr. Dzielak attends most of the national conventions, calling them “wonderful,” with “marvelous speakers.”
“One reason I’d like to see (more) women go, is because you realize the tremendous influence the women have. The national director goes to U.S. bishop’s meeting and presents issues important for Catholic women … they want to educate Catholic women, they want to empower Catholic women (and) they give leadership training for different ministries. I’ve met so many really great Catholic women at the conventions.”
Msgr. Dzielak has no plans to retire from this ministry, but looking ahead, he says, “I encourage younger priests to be supportive. I’ve invited a couple to go to the national councils. The next will be August in Salt Lake City — if any of the younger priests would like to go, I’d be happy to arrange it; most of their expenses would be paid. I would be very happy to make arrangements, and they could go with me.”
The DCCW is “doing a good ministry because the women we have on council now are good Catholic women. The women are very supportive of the priests. I would say it’s a good use of your time. Anything you do for them, they are very, very appreciative.”
Summing up his experiences with the DCCW seems to come easily. Msgr. Dzielak says simply, “I’ve found it a very fulfilling ministry.”
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