A Catholic men’s conference has been held in Philadelphia since 2008, and now it’s time for Catholic women in the archdiocese to gather for the first Catholic Women’s Conference in Philadelphia.
The conference, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City Philadelphia. More than 350 women — married, single and consecrated religious — have registered so far, and there is capacity for 700 attendees.
Kate Sweeney, director of programs for Endow, explained that this event was initiated after a group of women from the Archdiocese wrote to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who is a founding adviser of Endow, about the need for a women’s conference in Philadelphia. He agreed and asked Endow to co-sponsor the event.
Endow is a Catholic study program that helps women and teenage girls understand their God-given dignity and the need for an authentic feminine presence in the world.
The conference theme is “Feminine Genius: Every Woman’s Gift,” and nationally known speakers will address the Catholic perspectives on issues affecting women in society today.
(Watch a video about “the feminine genius” below:)
“We’ve never partnered with a diocese in this unique way to do a women’s conference,” Sweeney said. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience “fellowship with other Catholic women and celebrate the gift of our Catholic femininity.”
The day will begin with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Chaput, and the keynote presenters will be Jeanette De Melo, editor-in-chief for the National Catholic Register newspaper, and Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., superior general of the Sisters of Life. Break-out sessions will include presentations for youth and Spanish-speaking women.
“The goal of the conference is to educate women on their feminine genius in the culture, our capacity to love as a gift from God and how we’re empowered as women to be game changers in the world,” said Melissa Squarcia-Fordyce, a member of the conference planning committee. “I think people can expect a really transformative experience.”
In addition to the presentations, there will be opportunities for the sacrament of confession as well as a Christmas Market with local boutique vendors during lunch and breaks.
“When you have the Catholic faithful gathered in one room, it’s empowering,” added Squarcia-Fordyce. “There’s just a feeling that the Holy Spirit is really working there. I think that is what women will feel when they come together at the conference.”
Discounted rates are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information and to register, visit the women’s conference website.
Elena Perri is a freelance writer in Havertown.