Over 1300 women gathered on Oct. 26 for a day of fun, friendship, faith formation and prayer at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s annual Catholic Women’s Conference.
Hosted by the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, the day-long event featured a number of talks from national and local Catholic speakers, who gave presentations in both English and Spanish. The conference’s theme, “Unique and Unrepeatable: Your Mission as a Catholic Woman,” explored the personalized role each woman plays in God’s plan of salvation.
Archbishop Charles Chaput celebrated the conference’s opening Mass, after which Meghan Cokeley, director of the archdiocesan Office for the New Evangelization, delivered the morning’s keynote address, “You are Unique and Unrepeatable.”
During her talk, Cokeley — who co-founded the conference and serves as its chair — invited attendees to reject the insecurities and falsehoods that prevent women from seeing their true worth in Christ.
Among the “list of renunciations” Cokeley cited were “the lie that I am unlovable … the the lie that I am not good … the lie that I have no purpose.”
In contrast, Cokeley encouraged participants to affirm Jesus’ “great love,” which is “personal and unconditional,” and to believe that each woman is “unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable and a daughter of the King.”
First-time attendee Beth Dulin, a married parishioner from St. Robert Bellarmine in Warrington, found Cokeley’s presentation inspirational.
“She explained the truth that every woman has a unique mission in God’s plan to help save souls, and she helped me realize that God has given each of us a mission that will never be repeated by anyone else,” said Dulin, a mother of three. “She shared her own personal stories to help us discover what our own mission is to the world.”
In organizing the 2019 conference, Cokeley looked to the words of St. John Paul II from his Christmas 1978 “Urbi et Orbi” address: “For God and before God, the human being is always unique and unrepeatable, somebody thought of and chosen from eternity, someone called and identified by his own name.”
Mary Cruz Guzman, host of the of the “Stream of Grace for the Church” program on Radio Maria Canada, echoed the late pontiff’s words in the morning’s Spanish keynote address, “Única e irrepetible y El Espíritu Santo: fuente de misión.”
During the afternoon, keynote speakers focused more specifically on how women who have embraced their divinely-given identity can in turn use their gifts in service of others.
Speaking in English, Sister of Life Mariae Agnus Dei described “The Mission of Woman in the Heart of the Church.” Vocation and identity are central to Sister Mariae’s role as local superior of St. Frances de Chantal Convent in Bronx, N.Y., and director of her community’s postulants.
Fellow Sister of Life Anastasia Chiara Luce drew on her work with Philadelphia-area pregnant women in the Spanish afternoon keynote, “La misión de la mujer en el corazón de la Iglesia.”
Four breakout sessions enabled attendees to reflect in even greater detail about their identity and mission in Christ. Gloria Purvis, host of EWTN’s “Morning Glory,” asked participants to consider “The Mission of Women in the Family and in the World,” while certified professional coach De Yarrison challenged attendees to accept that they have been “Set Free for Mission.”
Catholic author, journalist and third order Discalced Carmelite Susan Brinkmann offered guidance on “Hearing God’s Voice: Rules for Discerning God’s Will for Your Life,” while Catholic physician and speaker Dr. Monique Ruberu described her personal journey in the talk “Finding My Mission as a Pro-Life Ob/Gyn.”
Marie Joseph, executive director of the Legacy of Life Foundation, served as emcee for the sold-out conference, which in addition to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was sponsored by the “You are Made New” Ministry, Malvern Retreat House, Relevant Radio and The Word Among Us.
The conference closed with a prayer service and eucharistic adoration presided over by Father Dennis Gill, director of the archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship.
Conference proceeds will be used to send young adult women to the annual GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum, a program designed to help young adult Catholic women with a heart for mission and an aptitude for leadership identify their particular gifts and find practical pathways to put them in the service of the Gospel.
Before the day concluded, attendees were urged to save the date for next year’s conference, which will take place on Oct. 24, 2020.
The Catholic Women’s Conference will choose the young women from parishes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to apply for the GIVEN Forum and will cover the cost of their registration and travel after being accepted by The GIVEN Institute. To learn more about GIVEN, visit https://giveninstitute.com/.
To sign up for the women’s spirituality mailing list to be notified when registration begins for the 2020 Catholic Women’s Conference, visit https://phillyevang.flocknote.com/WomensSpirituali.
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