GREENVILLE—“I’m so tickled!”
Those three words and a radiant smile were Mary Shumpert’s reaction to being named Catholic Woman of the Year by the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women.
Shumpert, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, received the award at the statewide organization’s 85th annual convention, held March 20-22 at the Embassy Suites in Greenville. Originally from Columbia, she now lives in Pawleys Island and is an active member of Precious Blood of Christ Church.
Speakers at the awards banquet on March 21 said Shumpert has followed God’s guidance all her life, and was a prime example of the convention’s overall theme, “And She said Yes!”
Workshops and discussions during the weekend focused on ways women of faith can learn how to be strong for themselves and for each other as they follow God’s guidance in their lives. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated Mass for the 137 women who attended on March 21.
Shumpert’s Catholic roots are deep. She was born at Providence Hospital and taught by the Ursuline sisters in Columbia. She once taught Sunday school to the boy who would become Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. In later life, she and her daughter, Suzanne Harris, have been involved in everything from serving meals to the needy to tutoring adults in a literacy program.
Four others were named Catholic Woman of the Year in their deaneries and were nominated for the award: Angela Dinenna, Coastal; Regina Spell, Columbia-Midlands; Barbara Grim, Lowcountry; and Mamie Hopkins Boyd, Piedmont.
Sister Sandra Makowski, of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, was named Religious Woman of the Year.
Sister Sandra is the diocesan chancellor, who is also an author. She offers retreats and talks on kindness.
Sister Sandra dedicated her award to “strong women of faith throughout history” who weren’t always acknowledged, but played an important role in the history of Christianity and the Church.
Her words were echoed in a speech she delivered March 21 on Biblical women who offered examples of how to say “yes” to God. She said Mary is the ultimate example of a woman who responded to God’s call.
“We can say yes to God today because we speak with the authority of our baptism, and we speak with the authority of wonderful women from Scripture who were brave and steadfast, who never gave in,” she said. “They give us courage when we sometimes feel we have no courage left.”
The keynote speaker at the awards banquet was a woman who shared her example of faith while wearing a glittering crown on her head: Lanie Hudson, the 2014 Miss South Carolina who is also a member of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg.
Hudson said the women of SCCCW offered great role models for people like her who are just getting started in careers and wondering what paths God will lead them down. She ends her reign this summer.
“I’ve learned through this experience that we need to do something every day to help us get to our goals,” Hudson said. “Each of you are here because you have a purpose. Continue setting an example and giving life to others around you through what you do!”
The women raised $10,430 for their annual convention project, which is the Home of Joyful Hope in Greenville, a planned home for unwed pregnant mothers.