By Mary Anne Hackett
At the end of December, 2020, after 24 years, I have retired as President of Catholic Citizens of Illinois. Time for New Ideas and New Technology! If you should hear that I retired for health reasons or that we are leaving Illinois – not true! I am blessed to be in good health and while I would like it to be a little warmer in Illinois – we are here to stay!
On January 14, 2021, the Board of Directors met at the Annual Meeting of CCI and elected Kevin Edward White as President and Madonna Muscarello as Vice President, with Steve Bock and Gerard Haderlein continuing to serve as Treasurer and Secretary respectively. Along with the full Board of Directors, they are faithfully and fully committed to the mission of Catholic Citizens and I know they will receive the support from all of you that I have received in the past. CCI is in good hands!
Now, a little history! In 1996, a young man named Tom Wronski approached our good friend, Tom Roeser, a Catholic and Community leader, with the idea of starting a new Catholic organization, based on the evidence that Catholics were almost indistinguishable from those of other faiths in their lifestyles and voting patterns. They met with me and we discussed a new organization and a mission – bringing our Catholic Values into the public square. Shortly thereafter, Tom Wronski was transferred out of state by his employer. Tom Roeser and I decided to carry the organization forward, with Tom serving as chairman and I as president. He had already collected a remarkable board and CCI was incorporated in 1997 as a 501©3 non-profit organization.
In 1999, determining that you can’t bring your values into the public square if you don’t know what is going on in the public square, we started our luncheons on the 2nd Friday of each month with great Catholic speakers presenting the Catholic Faith in the local arena and in the world. Tom Roeser was nationally known, having been a writer for the local papers, a radio host, had taught courses on politics at several colleges and universities and had served in the Nixon Administration, he was able to arrange for high-profile speakers to enhance the information of our members. Our first speaker was Fr. Anthony Brankin, a well know artist and sculptor, then pastor of St. Thomas More Parish on the South Side. Since then we have continued tp attract some of the nation’s strongest Catholic voices as speakers to our luncheons, as you’ll see at the “Look Who’s Talking at Catholic Citizens Lunch Forums”
Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum, and defender of life and faith was the speaker at our first annual dinner and received our first St. Thomas More Award for Catholic Citizenship, with many more to follow, most recently Brian Burch of Catholic Vote.
As technology exploded, we started our Web Site – CatholicCitizens.org – posting Catholic news from local, national and international sources. Visitors to our site have increased from 400 a week to over 6,000 a week. In addition, our luncheon speakers are videotaped and posted on YouTube. The board of CCI will be able to look into new ways to bring the message of faith to a greater audience through technology and will depend on you for the faithful support you have given in the past.
I pray for continued blessings for Catholic Citizens of Illinois. I am grateful for your friendship and support over these many years and I look forward to seeing you at the coming events of CCI and especially the Annual Dinner. Catholic Citizens of Illinois is a part of my heart and a labor of love that I was privileged to serve as President.