Among the many organizations established in Los Angeles, none was more favored and useful than the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women which traces its roots back to the 1920s. In an address to a national meeting of the broader National Council of Catholic Women held at Fresno in April,1953, McIntyre praised their work for the Church, noting that “the organization found its reason for being in the free adherence to the fixed principles of life represented in the law of God.
He stressed that members derived their strength from the fact that they were “at one in the acceptance of the truth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In an article for Confraternity Notes, Anne Heffernan stated that the objectives of the A.C.C.W. were “to carry out specific work entrusted by the Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, to cooperate with archdiocesan moderators and directors and to implement approved archdiocesan programs through standing committees.” An annual conference was held each year at which upwards of 1,600 women gathered to hear speakers and address problems and challenges facing the greater Catholic community. The role of the A.C.C.W. was that of “cooperating with” rather than replacing existing structures in the archdiocese.
McIntyre used the A.C.C.W. as a means of linking together other activities and over the years he enlisted their assistance in a host of activities such as the annual crusades for The Tidings, efforts to remove Catholic schools from the tax rolls, opposition to Federal Aid to education that would deny equal benefits to Catholics, the encouragement of Mary’s Hour and the establishing of Mission Circles for the support of the lay missionary program.
Late in 1957, McIntyre suggested to the A.C.C.W. leadership that they launch a monthly newsletter, a project that began the following January with publication of the initial copy of The ACCW Newsletter. In the very first issue, McIntyre asked members to continue their apostolate of providing “a strong bond of spiritual accord that will merit God’s blessing and the protection of our Blessed Lady”. The cardinal appointed a chaplain for the organization and he met personally with him prior to gatherings of the A.C.C.W.’s executive board. Each parish was encouraged to establish a branch so that the network could be activated in moments through a telephone linkup throughout the archdiocese.
Over the years Cardinal McIntyre became increasingly displeased with the policies of the National Council of Catholic Women and, after a long series of negotiations, he encouraged the local A.C.C.W. to withdraw its affiliation. On August 8, 1958, a majority of those on the executive board voted to comply with the cardinal’s advice. The Los Angeles organization had long been a dissentient voice on a number of national issues, including the N.C.C.W.’s views on pre-occupation with the United Nations, UNICEF, SFO and other similar agencies. Especially irritating to McIntyre were statements by the N.C.C.W. on the Bricker Amendment, the promotion of the Freedom Agenda, Radio Free Europe, the Catholic Association for International Peace, the sale of UNICEF anti Christmas cards, endorsement of the Genocide Convention and other issues that were misleading if not erroneous.
In their letter of withdrawal, the ladies protested what they considered a “soft approach on Communism” and N.C.C.W.’S “silence concerning the present grave evils of secularism, materialism and atheistic Communism in our midst.” They also complained about the absence of a strong positive program of Catholic Action, the omission of an alert on discrimination in all articles on Federal Aid to Education, silence about UNESCO’s proposed new treaty known as the Convention Against Discrimination in Education” and other positions that were “artfully maneuvered” through the last national convention with little or no discussion.
Interestingly, the Los Angeles A.C.C.W., not only survived its breakoff from the national organization, but thrived and grew to become one of the leading Catholic organizations in the archdiocese. Local authorities pointed to the A.C.C.W. as an example of how decentralization often strengthens rather than lessens the effectiveness of religious agencies.”
Cardinal Timothy Manning followed Cardinal McIntyre as the head of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and thus became our Episcopal Moderator. In the ensuing years, political changes came about in our country that resulted in Cardinal Manning requesting that the A.C.C.W. Executive Board look into reconnecting with the National Council of Catholic Women. A formal A.C.C.W. committee was formed and they met with the leaders of N.C.C.W. which resulted in the two groups becoming affiliated, and that is the status we enjoy today. Our officers attend their Conventions, Congresses and General meetings and have voting privileges.