Any guest in Josephine Valasek's midtown apartment quickly discovers what's important to the 89-year-old member of St. Cecilia Parish in Omaha: faith and family.
A crucifix and a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa hang on the hallway wall, and dozens of photographs of her nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews are framed on shelves or taped on cabinet and refrigerator doors.
“I just love to spoil them,” said Valasek of her family.
Valasek, who never married, also has been devoted to the Catholic Church through organizations such as the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, which is holding its national convention in Omaha July 18-21.
This year, Valasek will be recognized for her 50-year-membership in the Catholic Daughters, one of the oldest and largest organizations of Catholic women in North and South America. She has led her local court, or chapter, as regent, helped raise money for various charities and meets monthly with other members.
Valasek joined Catholic Daughters' Court Columbia, the first Catholic Daughters' court in Omaha, in 1962.
Rose Kobza, current regent of Court Columbia, said she has known Valasek for about 16 years and appreciates her friend's dedication to her court, parish and family. For example, Valasek for years helped care for her sister, who died last month at age 101, Kobza said.
And when Kobza first became regent, she often sought Valasek's help.
“I really depended on her. She's always so friendly and she knows everybody,” said Kobza, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Omaha.
Valasek said involvement in Catholic Daughters has helped her as well, through friendships with many women who share her faith and values and information about church issues.
The Catholic Daughters' ministries include helping others by building homes for the less fortunate, fighting pornography, supporting priests and religious, battling abortion and euthanasia and helping disaster relief efforts.
Valasek said she is willing to help at the Catholic Daughters' national convention later this month, and will attend the officer installation Mass July 21 at St. Cecilia Cathedral.
A native of Spaulding, Neb., Valasek moved to Omaha in the 1940s to attend College of Saint Mary. She later attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Creighton University, and devoted her life to working with children as a teacher and school counselor in Omaha. She retired in 1991.
Valasek has been active at St. Cecilia Parish since the 1960s. For many years, she brought Communion to the sick and homebound as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, and for more than 20 years, she has overseen the distribution of the holy oils passed out to parishes during Holy Week. She also is a member of the Omaha Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women.
Being active in the church and church organizations has helped her stay busy and has strengthened her faith life, she said.
“I don't think anybody ought to just exist just for herself. I think you need to share your talents and do what you can to make people happier,” Valasek said.
Posted with permission from Catholic Voice. Official newspaper for the Diocese of Omaha, Nebraska.