HILTON HEAD ISLAND—Mary Ann Turner of Greenville had immigrant parents who taught their children three important lessons.
“We learned love of church, love of God, and that you always give back,” she said. “You don’t have to be rich to give of yourself and give what you can.”
Turner has tried to follow that advice through a faith-filled life of service that led to her being named the Catholic Woman of the Year by the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women during their 84th annual convention March 28-30.
She was one of 179 women who spent three days of prayer, learning and fellowship at Hilton Head’s Sonesta Resort. Many of the workshops and discussions echoed the convention’s theme: “Help carry one another’s burdens; in that way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2).
Turner is a firm believer in that Scripture passage. She and her husband Dave volunteer with Guardian Ad Litem, serving as advocates for children who are under the care of the Department of Social Services. Among many duties, she volunteers at the library, helps with fundraisers for St. Anthony of Padua School in Greenville, works in the spiritual care office at a local hospital, brings the Eucharist to the ill and homebound, and has taught RCIA classes at St. Anthony of Padua Church. The Turners have three children and four grandchildren.
“My parents always did everything they could to let us know how important it was to give back to others with the gifts God has given to you,” Turner said. “It does not matter the color, the race, the origin of the people you encounter. You just help them and show them love.”
Daughters of Charity Sister Josephine Murphy was named Religious Woman of the Year. Since 2006, she has worked at St. Cyprian Church in Georgetown and helped with programs for the poor, including a soup kitchen and a local community center that helps men recently released from prison.
“I say to God be the glory, because everything I have comes from God,” Sister Josephine said. “Over the years I have asked Him for things and we got it. God has said how much he loves the poor, and I truly believe that.”
Sister Josephine, now 85, grew up in Richmond and joined the Daughters of Charity at age 17. Before she arrived in South Carolina, she spent 14 years at St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home in Maryland. After Easter, she is returning to her order’s motherhouse in Emmitsburg, Md., where she said she will continue to help elderly and sick sisters and pray for people in Georgetown.
“I have loved every minute of my life,” Sister Josephine said. “I wouldn’t change my life for anything or anybody.”
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass for the women on March 29 and was the keynote speaker at the awards banquet. He thanked them for the work they do in their parishes and communities. He also asked them to consider praying about and advocating for several issues: improving the quality of public schools in South Carolina, increasing opportunities for scholarships in Catholic schools, and educating others about the Church’s continued struggle for religious freedom, especially in relation to the Affordable Care Act.
The focus on giving continued in workshops offered by workers from Cross International and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, who discussed how both ministries help people in the U.S. and overseas.
Sister Susan Pontz of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius offered a lively session about ways to use technology to share the faith. She reminded the women that smartphones and social media can be their most effective tool to communicate with others, especially young people, and to promote their ministries and outreach.
“The question you need to ask yourself is how much technology is just enough?” she asked. “We have to make sure we still have depth in relationships, because depth roots us in the world, gives us substance and wholeness. Using too much technology can contribute to difficulties in prayer. It makes it hard to sit and quietly talk to God.”
On March 30, Catholic singer/songwriter Kitty Cleveland gave a dramatic talk about facing challenges through prayer. She encouraged the women to allow the example of Mary to guide them in their work.
“If you feel a distance from Mary, realize that she is longing to be your mother,” Cleveland said. “Every grace we’ve received has come to us through her. She invites us to be her children and to let her take us by the hand and lead us to Jesus. If we totally surrender to God as she did, we’ll be able to realize the support and providence He provides. We will be filled with joy. Whatever it is you’re worrying about, God trusts and knows what you need.”
Also at the convention, Marlene Grover, a member of St. Andrew Church in Myrtle Beach, was elected to a two-year term as SCCCW president.
The women raised $6,300 for their annual convention project, which will go toward building a chapel at the Camille Griffin Correctional Institute, a federal women’s prison in Columbia.
SCCCW honor Sister Josephine Murphy and Mary Ann Turner
April 10, 2014 | Christina Lee Knauss | The Catholic Miscellany