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First annual Diocesan Women's Conference

Posted by nechc on March 3, 2008

Sunday March 2 was an historic day for Western Mass. We maxed out capacity at out largest Catholic school, Cathedral High of Springfield. We had 3 unique speakers who all challenged us to experience God’s Grace and live it well. Our theme was Living God’s Grace.

Our first speaker was Fr. Bendict Groeschel on his new book The Virtue Driven Life. For me this was a unique opportunity. He holds a doctorate in psychology and discussed how secular psychologist are coming to the conclusion that virtue, as religious leaders and the great philosophers have defined it, to be best at healing people’s mental and emotional ills than reliving and then releasing our ‘repressed anger.’ He has a lot to say on how we as Catholics, with the access we have to grace through the Sacraments, should be the ones calling the world forward in virtue and yet in many cases we are not.

Lorna Kelly had us in tears of laughter and heartbreak as she shared her journey through recovery from addiction. Her path led her to work with Mother Theresa who became her friend. Mother was impressed by the process of 12 step recovery and looked for ways to help people when she could not share their suffering and say, ‘I understand, I’ve been there.’ Letters they wrote to each other have become evidence to the cause of her Sainthood because they provide confirmation of Mother’s enduring holiness during her ‘dark night of the soul.’
Finally we had our own Sr. Eleanor Dooley, SSJ. Holding 3 masters and a doctorate she managed to be very understandable. Filled with beautiful poetry, her talk was still down to earth. Sister discuss 4 ‘Touchstones of Grace’ in our lives, moments of reality that help us to understand the grace present in our lives as real. She punctuated her experience of these touchstones with a generous time of silence for us to reflect on similar touchstones in our own lives. So many speakers are afraid of silence! As a mother of 7 I crave silence and found it a rare luxury.

Many thanks are due to the committee. I find it interesting that I was not the only one who could only be at the first few meetings. Once the idea was rolling God drew in a wonderful group of women and its went so beautifully. Most of all I wish to thank our dear Bishop, Most Reverend Timothy A. McDonnell.  He has done so much to ensure orthodox teaching, safety for our children and renewal of our hearts. He has been relentless in his efforts and yet so gentle with his lambs; drawing us closer to Christ and each other so that we are becoming much more open to the universality of truth with in the Holy Catholic Church.

Best of all, today begins the work on the second annual Catholic Women’s Conference of the Diocese of Springfield.


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