Peg McEntee at the Wollongong Vocations Congress:
Festival of Faith Day 13 May 2006
Good morning – my name is Peg McEntee and I live at the Oaks
where my husband and I are members of the Oaks/Oakdale Parish
As I understand the process – this testimony, which I give, is
actually the story of my own faith life journey and ongoing
My story begins with my Baptism into the Catholic Faith. I am
the product of what used to be termed as a mixed marriage.
My father was Catholic – a lapsed Catholic – my Mother was
christened in the Anglican persuasion.
I would describe by Father's sister as a very holy woman –
totally immersed in her Catholic faith. She made very sure I was
baptised Catholic – immediately on my release from the hospital.
She was my godmother.
My Mother understood very well her commitment that I would be
raised in the Catholic faith and I was duly enrolled for primary
schooling with the sisters of St. Joseph and secondary education
with the Sisters of Good Samaritan.
Whilst I was never a brilliant student, the legacy given to me
in so many areas, particularly the faith by these wonderful women
has supported me through my life. I give thanks to them and
consider they have been and are, undervalued for their
contribution to church and society.
We were a very ecumenical family – of course we didn't use
that word in those times. My Maternal grandmother and her family
were Methodist and it is hard to believe that during those years
she and her brothers formed a musical band, playing for dances,
churches (even the Catholics) on the far North coast of NSW.
On Sunday morning my Mother would walk down the hill to the
Anglican service and I would walk up the hill to Mass. My Father
was still lapsed in practice but to be fair, he worked three
shifts at the Port Kembla steelworks and there were no vigil
services in those days. My Mother converted to Catholicism two
years before her death and my Father, I believe, was touched by
the Holy Spirit at the confirmation of our daughter and resumed
attendance at Mass.
My husband and I with our family of 2 1/2 children at that
time moved to the Oaks in 1966. It was a very difficult time for
me leaving our hometown, relatives and friends. I was approached
by the members of the Oaks Branch of Catholic Women's League
to join with them. I knew nothing of the organisation but did
eventually become a member.
The history of the CWL is that it was founded in England in
1906 by a woman named Margaret Fletcher.
We celebrate the centenary of founding this year. Margaret was a
convert to Catholicism of only two years however; she could see
the need for an instrument, which would provide a voice for
Catholic Women both in church and society.
The CWL stand here today has information brochures etc.
Over the years I moved through the structure of CWL leadership
positions from, parish Branch – Diocese – State – National and
CWLA is a member of the World Union of Catholic Women's
Organisations WUCWO that has a membership of millions of women.
WUCWO has accreditation to the United Nations through ECOSOC
(economic and social committee), as does CWLA INC.
I have been blessed to have the opportunity to represent CWLA
and WUCWO at meetings in Manilla, Jakarta, Rome, New York (on one
occasion, the NGO representative of the Australian Government
delegation) Papua New Guinea and Beijing.
CWL networks with a number of women's groups on a variety
of issues relating to social justice, bioethics etc. currently we
are very concerned with the issue of trafficking and sexual
exploitation of women and children.
CWLA has printed a prayer card, which has been circulated
worldwide – I hope you will take a card and use daily for these
women and children.
[Editor’s note: see this post for a copy of the ‘Maria Goretti Prayer Card’.]
I was awarded the Order of Australia for my services to women,
particularly through the Catholic Women's League. I accepted
this honour on behalf of the women who have contributed so much
to Church and Community.
I consider that through my membership to the CWL my Faith has
deepened and developed.
We share Days of prayer and recollection.
We convene and attend numerous conferences and seminars, which
help keep us informed on many topics.
Each of us is called to holiness in different ways – the
richness of the CWL is the diversity, which enables women to
support each other – the clergy and religious – Parish
involvement and the wider Community.
As with each of you – I have experienced dark times – I am a
survivor of Breast Cancer.
As I look back over my life span, I can see clearly the time
where God has given me guidance and direction. I also note the
times when I tried the leading!
Mary Mackillop has been a mainstay and example for me and I pray
often to her to be strengthened in my faith, to gain patience and
compassion and for an understanding of the love of Christ.
I work the Holy Spirit on OVERTIME.
I thank my family, particularly my husband – my teachers – my
colleagues in Catholic Women's League who have walked with me
my Faith Journey as I have strived to Follow the Son by giving
witness to the Gospel message and to be that voice which spreads
the mission of the Catholic Women's League.
Whether we are knitting Wraps with Love, cleaning the Church,
serving hospitality or preparing submissions to the State and
Federal Governments and making statements to the United Nations
Economic and Social Committee in New York …
We are called to be a Eucharistic community which
upholds the dignity of women and encourages their participation
in Church and Society, to fulfil the mission of the