Story Mary Kay McPartlin, photos by Sherri Rohrig
Reprinted from Catholic Woman magazine, Volume 43, issue no. 3
When Ann Jansky of Milligan became president of the Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (LDCCW), she developed stronger connections with her parish of St. Wenceslaus and her diocese. Those connections sparked her faith in ways Ann never anticipated.
Her faith was already strong. Growing up the sixth of nine children, her parents guided the family to live the Catholic faith every day. Through the sixth grade, Ann attended a Catholic elementary school.
“All of my relatives and most of my friends were Catholic while growing up, so going to Mass and catechism class was the norm,” Ann said. “I have two aunts who are Franciscan nuns based out of Colorado Springs and a first cousin who is a priest in the Omaha Archdiocese.”
While earning her bachelor’s degree in education at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ann never missed Mass on Sunday. She married in the Catholic Church, and as her family grew, Ann made sure her two sons were active in the parish and attended CCD class every week.
Between her family and work, Ann did not have much time to be active beyond her service at St. Wenceslaus, but she taught CCD at her parish for 10 years and served as CCD coordinator for several of those years. Ann was also a member of the Altar Society, serving first as treasurer, then as president.
“There are about 25 families in our small parish, so several of us have taken the position of Altar Society president multiple times. It’s been four times for me,” she said. “Toward the end of my first term serving as Altar Society president, my parish was on the rotation of finding a deanery president. One lady in our parish said we should pass since we are so small, but I decided to step up and do it, even though I had never been to a deanery meeting before.
“This started my involvement beyond Sunday Mass and trying to live as a devout Catholic,” she continued. “It was really life-changing for me. I already considered myself a good Catholic, but sometimes you need that little extra push to get you to the next level.”
Although Ann was willing and happy to participate, she was still concerned about the time commitment.
“As deanery president, I was automatically a member of the diocesan full board. The meetings were on Monday evening and all day Tuesday, and I remember thinking that it was a real sacrifice to take vacation from work to attend these meetings,” she said. “While attending my third diocesan board meeting, the president-elect of the Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (LDCCW) mentioned to me that she wanted me on her executive board. I became diocesan treasurer in 2006 and learned so much about the LDCCW organization through that position.”
Living where Catholics are a minority, Ann had limited opportunity to interact with people who shared her faith history and her commitment to living a Catholic life. The LDCCW changed that reality for Ann. She connected with many other like-minded, good-hearted, faithful Catholics in her deanery and throughout her diocese.
“I really, really grew as a person during those two years,” she said. “I’m not sure I have ever been more nervous in my life because I knew the time commitment it would take to be a good diocesan president in addition to my full-time job as a bank loan officer. But my children were grown and the timing was right. I loved it.”
When Ann became president of the LDCCW, she developed strong relationships with both Father Steven Thomlison, pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish, and Bishop James Conley. During her term as president, Ann worked closely with the bishop and LDCCW spiritual advisors Father Thomas Lux and Father Thomas McGuire.
“During one of the presentations at the 2013 NCCW Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, it was emphasized that diocesan presidents need to be visible to their bishops and have a working relationship with them,” Ann said.
“Being a diocesan president-elect at the time, I took that message to heart. Bishop Conley had been appointed to the Lincoln Diocese in November 2012, and was a convert to the Catholic faith, so he was not very familiar with the history or mission of the LDCCW,” Ann explained. “Our two spiritual advisors, the president-elect and I met with Bishop Conley several times during my term as diocesan president, which is where the idea of LDCCW supporting the new Catholic sorority at UNL – Pi Alpha Chi – originated.”
Ann continued, “I also attended many Catholic events for the first time that I had never considered before – Catholics at the Capitol, ordination Masses, the Chrism Mass, Magnificat events, the dedication of the new church at the UNL Newman Center, vespers at the seminary, diocesan talks, to name a few. I started attending daily Mass on a regular basis and even found myself stopping at the cathedral during a business visit to Lincoln, something that would never have crossed my mind before.”
For two years, Ann worked tirelessly to promote the LDCCW all through the diocese. She wanted to improve communication with individual parishes to bring women together throughout the diocese. Using diocesan media – newspaper, radio, website and social media – Ann increased exposure of the organization and highlighted the LDCCW’s activities and projects.
“The neatest thing is I have met people across the whole state I never would have met in a million years,” Ann says. “I chose St. Gianna Women’s Homes as my president’s project during my term of office. Each of the 13 deaneries in our diocese brought items to the LDCCW convention to furnish an apartment at St. Gianna’s for women victims of domestic violence, along with a cash donation given to the executive director, Father Christopher Kubat.”
Her two-year term as diocesan president culminated with the planning and execution of the 60th biennial LDCCW convention in April 2016. Ann used the theme “The Francis Effect” for the convention, which highlighted the inspiration of Pope Francis for Catholic social teachings to be enacted at the local, state, national and international levels.
In November 2016, the National Council of Catholic Women’s LTD team came to Doniphan to conduct a leadership workshop, and 80 women and five priests representing the Omaha Archdiocese, Lincoln Diocese, Grand Island Diocese and Des Moines (Iowa) Diocese attended.
Now in her first year post-presidency, Ann travels throughout the Lincoln Diocese providing leadership training. She said she loves presenting to Catholic women the idea of working as a larger group.
“Many people focus only on their parish,” Ann said. “As a bigger group, you can do amazing things and meet some extraordinary, faithful people. You just have to get involved.”
She firmly believes involvement in any level of CCW deepens faith.
“I feel spiritually I have a long way to go to become the person that I really want to be,” Ann said. “But I feel I am headed in the right direction, and hope that my actions on a daily basis are reflective of Christ and his mercy.”
LDCCW Sunday Oct. 29: we’re not your mother’s council!
(CCW/SNR) - LDCCW Sunday is celebrated the last Sunday of October, Oct. 29. All Councils of Catholic Women (CCW) are encouraged to use this day to heighten awareness of the work and levels of the Council of Catholic Women, at the parish, deanery, or diocesan level.
The Lincoln Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, (LDCCW) has grown and changed in the last several years. The Council isn’t your mother’s altar society! It was common to see women of a local church council busy working with parish dinners, fundraising efforts and serving funeral dinners to families of the parish. This continues today, but the councils have now included caring for people of the world.
The LDCCW communicates with its members through the use of emails and social media. Dorothy Morovec established e-secretaries, whose duty is to forward communication to members at the local level, during her term in (2006). Today the LDCCW moves toward the goal of an e-secretary in every parish. The quarterly newsletter NewsNotes can be sent via the postal mail, but also electronically, at a savings to the members.
The LDCCW has also increased their communication by adding a monthly e-mail The Effect started by Ann Jansky in 2014. It is geared to the commission chair and all members to make a difference in their Catholic sisters’ lives. Current president Terri Sullivan tailors The Effect to focus on her patron saint, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, reminding women that greatness can be achieved through small acts of love.
Leadership skills were the council’s greatest focus this past year. Ann Jansky, leadership training chair, has taken on training sessions throughout the diocese, meeting with all 13 deaneries (regions), to offer education on the mission of the LDCCW. Deanery members are cautioned about the pitfalls that can cause their councils to fail, and given tools to help maintain and increase their membership.
LDCCW funds are built primarily from parish dues, but the LDCCW maintains a strong budget to assist the needs of the diocese. It is philanthropic in nature and distributes funds to the Bishop’s Burse for seminarians, an annual president’s project, and many pro-life needs. Recently Ellen Jirovsky set up “Funds for Nuns,” which help assist a woman called to the religious life clear her debt so that she can be eligible to enter into the religious life.
Women of generations past who saw the LDCCW as a means to connect with other women who, like them, cared and tended to their family. Today’s members seek in the same way to connect with other women who are passionate about the world’s needs along with staying active in their community and caring for their family.