With the increase of American military families in Europe after World War II, Catholic women’s organizations also increased in number and importance. They offered vital assistance to the military chaplains in parish communities and represented American Catholic women in the countries in which they were stationed. The women who belonged to these organizations eventually saw the need to coordinate their efforts and receive guidance in making their Parish Groups more effective. Representatives from various Parish Groups met in Berchtesgaden, Germany in 1955 for the first Annul Training Conference and what became the Military Council of Catholic Women (MCCW). In 1957 the MCCW – Europe reorganized and affiliated with the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW). With the assistance of the NCCW staff, MCCW-Europe formed an organizational structure that met needs of the Catholic military women overseas. This paralleled the organizational structure of diocesan councils of catholic women in the United States. MCCW-Europe coordinated the work of 150 Parish Groups in Belgium Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Turkey and six areas in Germany.
Parish groups overseas spread over a vast area in many different countries. The MCCW-Europe structure provided for area subdivisions in which the representatives of parish groups could more readily meet and maintain the communication flow to and from parish groups of each area. As the organizational developed, MCCW-Europe also initiated programs to guide and inspire the parish groups in the church work: assisting the chaplains: serving as lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, CCD teachers, Bible study coordinators and musicians; sponsoring parish welcome coffees and other social events: and helping with special liturgical celebrations. MCCW-EUROPE became an active contributor to the American military community in Europe.
The women who had worked so enthusiastically in chapels overseas returned to the States and after joining the military parish groups here, discovered a lack of the organization and purpose they had experienced previously. Many expressed a desire to be part of, or create, a similar organization in the United States.
On August 18, 1970 three Chaplains and 18 ladies representing seven Army Installations in the Third Army, met at Fort McPherson, Ga. These charter members formed MCCW-Third Army. This council, formed guidelines used by MCCW-Europe, received approval of the Military Ordinariate. A Constitution was written. A General Meeting was held at Ft. McPherson on November 10. 1970 and the first officers installed. Delegates from Robins AFB affiliated, name changed to MCCW, SE, USA.
Edited to add: “The historical record of MCCW was not authored by me [Alba Thompson], rather it was from my personal records and documents. The historical facts were from a revised 2000 historical document. There was no author attached to the document.”
Brief History of MCCW-USA contributed by Alba Thompson.