“Mary Virginia Merrick, one of the country’s most prominent Catholic laywomen and founder of the internationally known Christ Child Society, died Monday night in Georgetown Hospital.” The Washington Post and Time, January 12, 1955
Today, we prayerfully remember the passing of our founder, Mary Virginia Merrick. I think most of us would say that Miss Mary was a true visionary. She recognized that you can effect change in your local community by reaching out and providing service to those most vulnerable, the little children. We all know her story; how she overcame adversity and dedicated her life, from a very young age, to helping the poor while seeing the Christ Child in every child and treating them accordingly. That vision and guiding principle set Mary Virginia Merrick apart from others who offered services to the poor.
Our Christ Child member volunteers all try to be true to Miss Mary’s vision. All of our chapters have members who go above and beyond. These members seem to channel Mary Virginia Merrick’s passion in a different way and they are always seeking ways to reach more children, provide more services, and touch more hearts.
We recently celebrated three such women at our National Convention in Milwaukee by awarding the Mary Virginia Merrick Award to Roseann Anderson, Patty Myler, and Joan Watkins. If you ask these women, they will tell you that they did not do anything more than any other Christ Child member. The MVM award committee thought differently. Each honoree was surprised not only with the award, but also with family members who traveled from afar to celebrate with them in Milwaukee!
Roseann Anderson began her service in the Pasadena, CA chapter where she took on many roles before joining the National Board in 1998 where she served for 10 years. Roseann was a visionary leader during her presidency who modernized the organization by building the capacities of the NCCS Board and office to provide skillful leadership to the chapters and by strongly shepherding the Challenging Poverty initiative, helping us get back to the roots of our mission by focusing on personal service. For more than 15 years now, Roseann has led the NCCS efforts in support of the Cause for Canonization.
Patty Myler joined the National Board in 2004 as a member of the Washington, DC chapter. President from 2010-2012; her accomplishments included the reorganization of the National office recruiting highly qualified leadership, including our current Executive Director Carolyn Pumphrey, and the implementation of monthly NCCS Board meetings increasing efficiency and collaboration. She greatly assisted with the redesign of the NCCS website in 2017, sharing her strong writing skills and knowledge about Mary Virginia Merrick. She serves as NCCS Historian and her incredible dedication to the canonization effort earned her a designated canonical position in the Cause for Canonization.
Joan Watkins made a lasting impact during her tenure on the National Board from 2010-2014 that benefits us yet today. A firm believer in evaluating current practices and implementing recognized best practices; Joan worked on an almost daily basis to help us become the best that we can be. One major accomplishment was her leadership to create and improve the first NCCS website, which was the beginning of NCCS being able to share resources with all our chapters. Increased educational offerings at conference and through teleconferences and webinars are a major “Joan legacy” that brings best practices and training to chapters large and small. Additionally, Joan currently serves as President of her Texas Capital Chapter and in meaningful roles in her secondary chapter of Detroit, MI.
The three 2018 Mary Virginia Merrick award winners truly lived Mary Virginia Merrick’s words “This service was a joy to me, for I would see the Christ Child in the least of them, and their pleasure was His thanks – I wanted none other.” Roseann, Patty and Joan’s dedication to the work begun over 130 years ago serves to remind us that we all need to do our part to ensure that this wonderful organization continues and thrives through the next 130 years.