By Elizabeth Fisher

Special to The CS&T

MALVERN – The first-time Girls of Goretti Vocations Conference was a hit, giving organizers hope that it will become an annual event.

The conference, held June 23 at the Malvern Retreat House in Malvern, hosted 50 girls from fifth to eighth grade who spent the day focusing on their future, whether that future would draw them to the religious life, to marry or to remain single.

“Of course, the emphasis was on the religious life, but we encouraged the girls to pray and follow God’s direction, whatever their vocation,” said Sister Rose Bernadette Mulligan, I.H.M., a spokeswoman for the conference.{{more}}

The theme of the day was “Love Like Crazy,” and that could take many forms. One example held up for the participants was that of St. Maria Goretti. A young man named Allessandro stabbed the young Maria many times. As she lay dying, the future saint forgave her killer, hoping, she said, that he would one day be with her in heaven.

St. Maria Goretti is the patron saint of teenage girls, Sister Rose Bernadette said.

“The girls all agreed that this kind of love was ‘crazy,’ but the participants were encouraged to open their hearts to such ‘crazy’ love,” Sister Rose Bernadette said.

The guest speaker was Amy Deedy of St. Elizabeth Parish in Upper Uwchlan. Deedy, who worked in the archdiocesan Office for Youth and Young Adults, gave the girls her perspective as a Catholic single woman. She told the group that each was called by God to a special vocation, and within each vocation was a special call from God to receive His love and to share it with others.

Religious sisters from seven congregations led the conference, and 25 high school volunteers helped coordinate activities, which included making a St. Maria Goretti chaplet, designing photo frames to hold group photos and decorating personal journals.

The vocations directors planned the event with the help of Sister Kathleen Leary, S.S.J., of the archdiocesan Office of Consecrated Life. Father Kevin DePrinzio, O.S.A., celebrated Mass for the group.

“The day was full of energy … Seeing the girls participate in the activities with such enthusiasm and wholesomeness was such a sign of hope for the future of the Church. We were privileged to be able to create some space for the girls to deepen their relationship with God,” Sister Rose Bernadette said.

Elizabeth Fisher is a freelance journalist and member of St. Mark Parish in Bristol.