Story by Tess Wahlmeier
(SNR) – During each term, the president of the Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (LDCCW) – the diocesan organization which unites Parish Councils of Catholic Women in seeking to serve God through works of mercy – chooses a “President’s Project” to work on, usually fundraising for a charitable organization.
When Ann Jansky became president of the LDCCW, she decided to go a step farther. Instead of simply asking for monetary donations, Jansky asked each of the 13 deaneries to provide furnishings for one apartment at St. Gianna Women’s Homes.
St. Gianna Women’s Homes of Catholic Social Services is a home for women fleeing domestic violence and abortion. There are 12 two-bedroom apartments, six three-bedroom apartments, and six one-bedroom apartments, and women who graduate from the home are welcome to take all of the furnishings with them when they move out and find a home of their own.
Individual parishes, as well as deaneries, have already donated many apartment furnishings to St. Gianna’s. Since Jansky’s request in August 2014, furnishings for more than 87 apartments have been donated by the Lincoln Diocese (although it is not possible to tell how much came from the president’s project and how much came from individuals and parishes themselves).
In addition to those apartments already furnished, each deanery completed Jansky’s request to furnish one apartment. Last weekend, the LDCCW gathered in York for their biennial convention, and collected and sent off 13 piles of apartment furnishings to St. Gianna. Monetary donations from the deaneries were also collected and presented to Father Kubat, executive director of Catholic Social Services.
“For me, the visual effect of seeing items in the narthex of the church and being able to actually see them being loaded onto the truck just has a lot of merit,” Jansky said.
Deaneries all collected items in different ways. Some divided the apartments up by parishes: one parish furnished the kitchen, one parish furnished the bedroom, and so on. Other deaneries had ‘giving trees,’ decorated with ornaments that listed needed items on them. Parish families would take an ornament and bring the donated item back to the church. Others divided the list based on parish size. (Related story: Parishes take on LDCCW project)
“They’ve all done their own thing,” Jansky said. “I think it’s been a really neat idea!”
Physical furnishings for the home aren’t the only gift the LDCCW has given to St. Gianna. The annual pro-life diaper drive collected 85,294 diapers for Catholic Social Services in October 2015. The LDCCW also organized “prayer partners.” Members of the LDCCW were given the first name of a resident of St. Gianna to pray for. In addition to praying for the residents, members of the LDCCW also wrote notes of encouragement on religious note cards and made Valentines for the residents and staff of St. Gianna at their winter symposium.
Jansky said her project has been so rewarding because she’s actually been able to work with the women and staff – Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln – at St. Gianna. She was able to tour the facility and see exactly where all the donations were going. She corresponded often with the directors of St. Gianna Women’s Homes to make sure all of the needs and furnishings were taken care of. Her project has been going on for more than a year and a half.
Jansky also said that her presidency has given her the opportunity to deepen her own faith.
“I’ve grown up Catholic,” she said, “but I have gone to a lot of first things during my presidency which I always wanted to do but just never took the time to do. I’ve been to the Chrism Mass, I’ve been to ordinations, I went to the Sisters’ Mass in Hastings this last year, I went to pro-life conference, I’ve been to the Walk for Life, I’ve been to Catholics at the Capitol – I’ve taken off work for a lot of things that I just never would have taken the time.”
As she transitions to her new position as ‘past president,’ Jansky hopes to help parishes and deaneries with organization and increased communication.
“When you have 134 parishes and you’re trying to relay the same message, that’s probably the hardest thing,” she said.