The early 2000’s found both the Cincinnati Catholic Women Association and the Catholic Women of Cincinnati facing a decline in enrollment and a desire to honor the original intent of the organizations. The leadership of both organizations spent many months determining the best way to blend the histories of both groups and forming one unified group of women focused on our religion and good works in the community. The two organizations’ boards met several times between 2002 – 2005 to craft the mission and outline the details of the merger. Under the guidance of the Presidents of both organizations – Suzy Dorward (CCW 2002-06), Peggy Lockwood (CCWA 2002-03) and Carol Harten (CCWA 2003-05), the by-laws were rewritten and the process of blending the meetings, fund raising activities and the disbursement of our philanthropic dollars took shape. The membership from both organizations approved the new by-laws and determined the organization will be known as the Cincinnati Catholic Women.
The group changed the format of its meetings to offer more educational topics at its meetings. Under the guidance of Teddy Curry (2006-2008); Pauline Fitzgerald (2008 -2010) the organization invited noteworthy guests to present on a variety of topics including “The History of the Catholic Church in Cincinnati”; a night with author Tammy Bundy sharing her time with Fr. Jim Willig; “Catholic Social Teaching” with Sr. Louise Akers and a visit from the new Archbishop Daniel Schnurr.
While we continued to offer prayer, sisterhood and participate in awarding the annual scholarships to young women in our community, the group began to provide its members a deeper look into their Catholic lives and spirituality inviting a variety of local speakers who challenged and educated the group.
Carol Helmick Turchick (2010 – 2013) led the group into a more financially secure position when the Board decided to sell the treasured Elizabeth Nourse painting known as “The First Communion”. In late 2013, the Cincinnati Art Museum purchased this stunning piece of art and now has it on display in the Cincinnati Wing.
Lisa Odenbeck served as President in 2013 and 2014 and turned over the reins to Lynne Kraemer. While the organization still meets the 3rd Monday of each month, we are focused on combining education and community outreach. In 2015, Catholic Women of Cincinnati decided to take a break from its annual allocation of scholarships to help young women and focus its attention of helping young women in a new way. Catholic Women of Cincinnati is pleased to announce it is the first organization in the city to “Adopt a House” through the Boys Hope/Girls Hope Program. We are excited to partner with this outstanding organization and adopt the girl’s house located in East Walnut Hills. This will allow our members to interact on a regular basis with these young women who range in ages from 7th grade to senior in high school. Please refer Community Outreach section for more details on this exciting new venture.
Come celebrate your faith with us.
Cincinnati Catholic Women is open to anyone who wishes to be a part of an organization that celebrates our religion, embraces good works and wants to interact with other women in the community who share our amazing faith.
the 90’s, Catholic Women of Cincinnati continued to change and grow, although smaller in size. Consignment sellers were added to the other boutique items for sale at Fashionata, while the Ball Caprice was taken over by another ambitious fundraiser, The Catholic Telegraph, which raised over $10,000. “Cincinnati What’s Cooking” appeared on the bookshelves of small shops and bookstores. (Notice what the first letter of each of the cookbook’s title spells?) The group began to focus on education and scholarship and we originally awarded four-$500 scholarships which eventually grew to two-$1,250 scholarships. The members began to support the Bethany House by collecting gifts at Christmas and Mother’s Day.
Ball Caprice became the Spring Caprice and moved to the Peterloon Estate with a Murder Mystery theme. This was a hit and Peggy Platz chaired the event the next year. (She even wrote her own mystery and the CWC members and their spouses acted out the parts). The final Spring Caprice at Peterloon Estate was organized by Kathann Koehler and Carolyn Sweeney. We were still hosting the Fashionata at the Hyatt and chair, Beth Lauter, invited Marge Schott, then owner of the Cincinnati Reds, to help us celebrate “Reds in Bloom.” Parisian Stores had come to town in 1995 and partnered with CWC until 1997.
As the century came to a close, there were a lot of changes in CWC. St. Joseph’s Infant and Maternity Home, one of the primary beneficiaries of our funds, boasted of a new housing quarter for 50 additional residents. The Catholic Federation for the Mentally Retarded united with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Although membership was dropping, those who remained worked diligently to raise money and continue the good works in the area. The group realigned its fund disbursement methodology to focus on those organizations who did not receive government funding so that our contributions would have meaning for the recipients. We continued to support the Catholic Federation and asked members for their input on other charities that were deserving of our funds.
The Spring Caprice turned into the WineFest, a wine-tasting dinner party which was chaired by Anne Flottman and was held around Valentine’s Day. The first WineFest was held at a local country club and a portion of the money raised in wine sales went directly to CWC.
Mary Ellen Sullivan spearheaded the printing of our fourth cookbook, “A Feast of Eden,” which was sold at almost every bookstore chain and many specialty shops. The end of the nineties saw the Catholic Telegraph insert paired down to one page. The group continued to provide service in the community and awarded four-$2,500 scholarships to high school students and introduced a Continuing With Confidence scholarship to women wishing to re-enter the educational scene and further her education. The Fashionata took on another new look in 1998 with Chris Bell as chairperson. The stores at Kenwood Towne Centre were involved to add a little variety. The following year, Mary Kay Leibreich and Jeanne Howe worked tirelessly to coordinate the Fashionata in conjunction with the Jeffersonville Outlet Mall stores.
On August 17, 1980 the group’s dreams came true when Connelly Home for Women opened its doors to five mentally challenged women so they could live in an independent setting. CWC also produced another hugely successful cookbook, “One Potato, Two Tomato.” Our 15th anniversary celebration in 1982 brought new, young faces giving their time and talents.
The group continued to grow and fundraising was at its peak! Fashionata ’84 was held at the newly-opened Hyatt Regency Hotel with a record breaking crowd of over 1,000, thanks to Suzanne Rechenberg and her committee. In 1985, the Ball Caprice was held at the newly-renovated Moonlight Gardens. With Ann Florian at the helm in 1987, the Fashionata welcomed McAlpins and Liz Caliborne as partners. The Ball Caprice had a change of venue in 1988, offering a Monte Carlo theme. Through a partnership with Mercurio Homes and the American Wood Council, Catholic Women raised $2,500 for our charities. And who could forget the CWC husbands vs. the WSAI disc jockeys in their baseball game?
Nineteen seventy found WCW members sending boxes to Vietnam, food and clothing to the needy, and soliciting membership for WCET. Georgine Wolohan headed the first Fashionata, an evening of elegance with cocktails, boutiques and fashions by Pogues. Under the presidency of Jewell Geoppinger in 1972, CWC celebrated its fifth anniversary with over 200 members. In that same year, it introduced its first cookbook, “Club Women Can Cook.” In 1973, CWC received the Enquirer’s “Salute to Women’s Club” Award, the Inky, in recognition of the many volunteer hours devoted members have given to various causes in the community.
The Club embraced a change in Fashionata in 1976 with the downtown Shillito’s Department Stores sponsoring a progressive dinner party to benefit CWC. Straying from tradition in 1978, the Ball Caprice (formerly held at a downtown hotel) was celebrated at the Playhouse in the Park, which started a long relationship with local arts organizations. The members began to hostess such plays as “Man of La Mancha,” “Ten Little Indians,” and “The Importance of Being Ernest.” The group was growing in popularity and raising a lot of money. Mary Anne Klein chaired Fashionata in 1979 and moved it to a daytime event which proved to be highly successful for the group.
These young women, headed by their first president, Mrs. Ronald Van De Ryt, came with many new ideas and much enthusiasm. The group’s former main projects – St. Josephs’s Infant and Maternity Home – remained the primary beneficiary of funds and time for the group. Fundraising was a focus of these women as they organized the fashion show and membership tea each year. Under the president, Jeanne Franz, the group gained momentum and began its long-time relationship with the Catholic Federation for Retarded Children. In 1969, motivated to raise more money to distribute to two main charities, the Ball Caprice (formerly “Whirligig”) was introduced. The group also partnered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to hold a benefit Pops Concert where proceeds were channeled into the new education fund.