Monday, October 01, 2018 - Updated: 9:58 am
Jen Laurenson bought her ticket for “Overflow: Live in the Abundance of Grace,” the Catholic Women’s Fellowship Conference set for Saturday, Oct. 27, shortly after registration opened. She attended the inaugural conference in 2017, and afterward felt a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in her life and a renewed desire to share the depths of God’s love with her family, friends and neighbors.
She is looking forward to this year’s conference as a retreat for the heart amid the busyness of life.
“There’s always something to be gained from a conference like that,” said Laurenson, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Emsworth.
The conference, which includes Mass, several talks, opportunity for confession, Eucharistic adoration, vendors and fellowship with other women, will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Emily Pino of St. Raphael Parish was impressed by the attendance of nearly 1,000 women at the 2017 conference. It showed her the need for such an event that strengthens the faith of laywomen.
“As a diocese, I think that now is the perfect time to have an openness to the Holy Spirit and to live in the overflow of grace,” she said.
Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ Sister Bernadette, who will speak on healing the wounded heart, said that oftentimes women find themselves hurt or stuck in a downward spiral. She wants women to know that even when they feel alone in their suffering, Christ offers a pathway to freedom and healing.
“I want to empower women with the spiritual tools to know how to deal with the wounds we encounter as women,” Sister Bernadette said.
She sees the “Overflow” theme of the conference as particularly relevant. Life’s burdens, pains and conflicts often bar women from an overflow of the Holy Spirit’s grace that is ready to burst forth, Sister Bernadette said.
“I really do feel that these burdens and weights block the work of the Spirit,” she said. “As the Lord removes those boulders, the Spirit can flow.”
Benedictine Father Boniface Hicks will speak on “the feminine genius,” a term coined by St. John Paul II to describe the feminine style of holiness that women offer the church. Feminine genius emphasizes women’s inherent qualities of receptivity, maternity, sensitivity and generosity. Father Boniface will discuss those qualities and describe how the feminine genius, when genuinely lived out, allows women to receive and share God’s overflowing love.
“The most important thing is God’s unique love for them as women, and for them to know that personally in a deeper way,” he said. “When we know that we’re loved, we carry out every activity differently, with more confidence and generosity. We know that no matter what happens we will always be loved.”
Knowing our identity as beloved of the Father is critical to everything we do in the church, Father Boniface said. A great strengthening occurs when women striving after femininity, holiness and selflessness come together.
“God has a gift for every woman that attends,” he said. “He has a gift for every heart. No one who sets aside that day for him will go away disappointed.”
Megan McCabe of St. Paul Cathedral Parish will return this year to represent her business, Boho Handmaids, as a conference vendor. She sells handmade rosaries; rosary bangles, an original creation; pocket rosaries; and bracelets adorned with select saint medals.
She taught herself how to make jewelry, and integrates her talents with her faith through her work. Her personal devotion to the Virgin Mary serves as inspiration for her business (http://bohohandmaids.com). McCabe was encouraged by the hundreds of women who attended the 2017 conference.
“It’s a great witness to me to see these women come out in droves who are dedicated to their faith,” she said.
For details or to register for the conference, visit cwfpitt.org.