Jack & Ellen McNally

Estero, FL

Written By Call To Action


April 28, 2014

When Ellen and Jack McNally retired full-time to Florida in 1998, their primary objective was to play golf. They bought a house in a modest golfing community and play at least three times a week.  Ellen consistently shoots in the low 80’s and wins tourneys in her age bracket.

What they didn’t foresee was how exciting and fulfilling their work would be as Call To Action SW Florida chapter leaders. They gather a community for worship and service.  Jack explains, “Because people in our community saw needs, we’ve acted for the homeless, for immigrant workers and for LGBT people.”

Not long after CTA incorporated locally, the Venice Diocese received a new bishop who began to systematically dismantle the structures for lay leadership, undermining progressive pastors and firing any church workers who might value Vatican II more than loyalty to the bishop. “The negative actions by our bishop strengthened our resolve to cultivate a better church,” adds Ellen.

In addition to confronting unjust structures, they’ve sponsored inspiring speakers like Edwina Gateley, Bob McClory, Bishop Tom Gumbleton, and Miriam Therese Winter. In the media, they’ve become a Catholic voice for equality, inclusivity, and collaboration. They’ve also established excellent relations with protestant churches and even helped an independent Catholic retreat center push back against diocesan threats.

Both Ellen and Jack agree that what’s marvelous about their chapter is the fact that like-minded people come together for our spiritual development, community and fellowship, and the opportunity to address issues important to the local community. “The people of our chapter are well-educated Catholics who care about their church but know it can be better,” Ellen notes. “We’re inspired by the vision of Vatican II and the Gospel imperative for the poor. Call to Action is that church” she says.

For more information about Call To Action chapters, click here.