Catholic Woman’s Club marks 100 years

P4WomenClub10-14-10The Catholic Woman’s Club of Kenosha celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 3, with a Mass at St. Elizabeth Church in Kenosha and a dinner at the Best Western Harborside in Kenosha. Among those at the dinner were (seated from left) Fr. Henry Maibusch, the group’s spiritual advisor, Lillian DeFazio, an eight-term past president, and Judy Lichte-Summers, secretary. Standing are Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Peggy Bain, the group’s president, Kenosha mayor Keith Bosman, Arlene O’Connor, vice president and Marilynn Strangberg, the corresponding secretary. (Catholic Herald photo by Ernie Mastroianni) 

KENOSHA — The Catholic Woman’s Club of Kenosha recognized its 100th anniversary with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki at St. Elizabeth Parish on Sunday, Oct. 3. The Knights of Columbus Messmer Assembly #1201 assisted at the Mass, followed by a banquet and program at the Best Western Hotel.

It’s a milestone that club president Peggy Bain, 81, is proud to have reached and one that might have surprised its 65 charter members – who established the club after a series of conversations in 1910.
The reason the club started was simple. The women wanted to find a way to spread the knowledge of Catholic catechism to those desiring to learn more about their faith, share that education with others, help the poor through humanitarian projects and make lifelong friends.

A century later, the group’s focus is the same and one that has attracted more than 240 members from Catholic parishes throughout Kenosha.

“We meet around 1 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, from September through May,” said Bain. “This year we have a new home in DeSimone Hall at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish and we welcome all Catholic women ages 21 and up from all of Kenosha County.”

Meetings last two to three hours depending on the activity, such as cards or bingo. Often there will be entertainment or a speaker who will talk to the group on health or other topics of interest.

“We begin our year with Mass, and participate in food drives, knitting projects such as mittens, scarves or hats for the needy,” said Bain. “We also honor all members who have died during the year with a candle lighting ceremony during Lent.”

Interested in joining?

The Catholic Woman’s Club is open to all practicing Catholic women ages 21 and up in Kenosha County.

For more information on joining, and meeting times, contact Peggy Bain (262) 657-3665.

As the group’s historian, Vickie Nelson, 71, is working on a 100-year book for the celebration, to chronicle the group’s activities, photographs and charitable efforts. The task is a bit daunting, as early historians moved from the area or inadvertently discarded some of the records and photos dating back to the early years.

“But I am using what I have and going from there,” said Nelson. “The main thing is that we are going to celebrate all that the club means to us – as our group grew, we supported and continue to support charities, missions, knitting projects, scholarships and other humanitarian projects.”

The club does no fundraising and only requires dues of $15 per year, but the outreach is staggering, thanks to gifts from several deceased members who created bequests or charitable trusts to the Catholic Woman’s Club. Among other efforts, these funds have enabled the group to offer two annual $1,000 scholarships to students attending St. Joseph Academy in the name of deceased member, Alvina Skinkle.

“These are offered to one boy and one girl. Those scholarships are really encouraging to me as I sent my kids to parochial school and it’s wonderful to help others do the same,” said Bain. “We also donate to pro-life organizations, Women’s Horizons, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul and some money goes to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Our group does a really wonderful job of reaching out and volunteering our time.”

While its primary focus is growing in faith and stewardship, Nelson appreciates the close network of friends she has developed over the years.

View the webinar, “Parishes in Collaboration,”

presented by Sr. Katarina Schuth for parish councils/staff on Thursday, Oct. 28.

“I love the friendships I have made and enjoy the work we do volunteering at Brookside Nursing Home, too – the older people fascinate me and I have learned so much from them,” she said. “We also have speakers at many of our meetings, celebrate Mass together and enjoy each other’s company. My faith has grown so much since becoming involved with these wonderful women.”

Under the spiritual direction of the group’s chaplain Augustinian Fr. Henry Maibusch, , the Catholic Woman’s Club cares for the sick by sending cards and gifts to those in nursing homes or in the hospital, and honors its deceased members by assisting as honor guards at funerals, and with Mass remembrances.

“It is a very touching experience to serve as honor guards,” explained Bain. “We stand while the family processes into the church and stand near the family. We also make sure to have a Mass said for each deceased member of our group. It is important for us to let those suffering know how much we care about them.”

While Bernadette Lasky-Loewen, chairperson of special social events, is a member of several business clubs in the Kenosha area, the Catholic Woman’s Club offers something the others can’t – a chance to connect with other women and openly share her faith.

“I wanted to join something with women,” said the 77-year-old. “I wanted lace tablecloths, nothing conversations, fun and silliness, but most of all spiritual growth. I’ve been involved in my parishes and the Serra Club and they are wonderful, but I like this group because of the theme, ‘Concern and Love for One Another.’ I enjoy the meetings with Masses, caring about our sick members and having Masses for our deceased. It is a group of women from all over the city with a common concern about our Catholic faith and whose friendship I admire and treasure.”

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