On a recent beautiful Saturday, 350 Catholic women consciously chose to take part in a Conference that would not only encourage but guide them as they continue to become more the Women of God they are called to be.
The 2021 Diocese of Venice Women’s Conference was held March 13, 2021 at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and featured a day of rousing talks and the opportunity to be together amongst other women of Faith.
Roberta Bunch of Our Lady of Light Parish in Fort Myers was thrilled to be able to attend the event with so many other like-minded and motivated women.
“I really wanted to be here so I could get some insight into how to keep up my passion for Christ,” Bunch said, noting it was the first large gathering she had been to in more than a year. “Each part of the day struck me in different ways. Truly wonderful. My heart is filled with joy.”
Bishop Frank J. Dewane praised the women for taking time out of their busy lives to participate in the Conference, something he is confident the Lord sees.
“Because of this, you have been given a mission in the Church as the peacemakers,” Bishop Dewane continued. “You can do so much. Your love is undeniable. Know the Lord will give you the rest – the strength, humility and honesty to set you on a new direction, changing who you are as a Woman of God.”
The Conference featured acclaimed speakers Kimberly Hahn and Mary Ann Weisinger-Puig. Both focused on the importance of placing one’s trust in the Lord and being hope-filled women.
Hahn explained that hope is a “confidence in the Lord’s presence and His power. Hope is about placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength but on the help and grace of the Holy Spirit.”
Weisinger-Puig spoke about key women throughout Church history who should be looked up to as “radiant witnesses to God’s love.” Examples included St. Joan of Arc and St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (St. Edith Stein), to name a few. The final woman covered was Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrillo. An Italian woman who had carried two children to term even though she knew they would die shortly after birth. During her third pregnancy she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer but chose the life of the unborn child over undergoing any invasive treatments. Her son was born healthy, but she died within a year, in 2012, at the age of 28.
New to the Conference was a question and answer session with Bishop Dewane joining Hahn and Weisinger-Puig. Questions covered issues raised in the earlier presentations, but one poignant moment came when the panel was asked for advice on how to respond when a family member strays from the Faith.
The Conference opened with Eucharistic Adoration, which continued throughout the day in a nearby classroom. The opportunity for Confession was also available all day. Aspects of the Conference were adapted this year to comply with social distancing requirements necessitated by the Pandemic. These included extra space for seating during the talks and lunch, as well as limiting the total number of participants.