Behind the church altar, always a woman leader

ChristianityRoman CatholicismTravelHealthDiseases and IllnessesTallahassee (Leon, Florida)Bronx (New York City)

Other job experience: Travel agent, Fort Lauderdale; former legal secretary in Hollywood.

Other community posts: Immediate past president of Church Women United, an interdenominational, national organization. Former president, Broward Council of Catholic Women and of St. Luke's Parish Council of Catholic Women, Coconut Creek.

Education: Associate's degree in business from Broward Community College.

Personal: Age 67. Born in Bronx, N.Y. South Florida resident since 1950.

Family: Single.

What is the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women?

We unite all Catholic women's organizations of the archdiocese in purpose, direction and action in the religious, educational, social and economic fields. We also give full support to statements and programs of the U.S. Catholic bishops.

How did you get into your vocation?

I moved to Lauderhill around 1996 and joined St. Luke's Catholic Church. I attended their council meeting and was hooked.

What's the one most mistaken impression about Catholic women and their role in the church?

That we don't have any say in church affairs. That is false. If you look behind the altars of any church, there are women leaders. We have a say in church legislation and voting. We lobby in Tallahassee once a year in connection with the Florida Catholic Conference. And in international concerns, the women of the council serve the needy outside the U.S., especially in Haiti. In family and community concerns, we lead in helping the needy in our local areas.

What do you do to relax?

Travel, read books and watch a little TV.

What book have you been recommending lately?

The Wonder Worker, by Susan Howatch. It is about a young girl who lives in London and finds her way back to a church, and all the problems she goes through as an unbeliever on the way to be a believer. The best book I ever read was The Story of a Soul, the story of St. Therese of Lisieux, because of her service in little tiny ways with no recognition whatsoever.

Favorite vacation spot?

Australia is very much like America, and the people there really like us. Israel enthralls me because of the Holy Land and the people who live there are under such stress continuously

Favorite film(s)?

I went recently to see Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere, because it is kind of a chick flick.

Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?

Frank Sinatra. I was raised in that era, and no one compares to him.

Do you have a treasured possession?

My mother's watch. It is a plain Bulova wristwatch, but when I put it on, she is with me.

Your most memorable spiritual experience?

My mother was ill in 1985 with pancreatic cancer, and I was praying for her recovery. I was given a vision through prayer that she would be better off leaving this earth.

What's the most important thing you've ever learned?

You can't do things by yourself. You have to have help. No matter what it is, work or pleasure.

When things get you down, how do you reconnect with the spirit?

You have to pray — not necessarily in church — and just talk to the Lord. And answers do come, although they might not be the answers you want.

— Tom Tracy

Do you know someone we should profile? Tell Religion Editor James D. Davis at 954-356-4730 or jdavis@sun-sentinel.com.

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