Speakers to invite women to be 'Unshakeable' witnesses of faith

Friday, October 18, 2019 - Updated: 2:33 pm

By Theresa Sullivan Correspondent

The third annual Catholic Women’s Fellowship Conference aims to equip women to boldly witness their faith and strive for sainthood Saturday, Nov. 9, at North Catholic High School in Cranberry Township.

Nearly 900 women of all ages have attended the conference for the past two years. The day’s schedule includes: talks by Emily Stimpson Chapman, Hallie Lord, John Beaulieu and Father Joe Freedy; Mass; prayer; adoration; lunch; opportunity for confession; and fellowship. There also will be a ministry fair, numerous vendors and a Pittsburgh cookie table, which has become a conference staple.

This year’s theme of “Unshakeable” grew from organizers’ desire to embolden women who feel shaken by current events in the church or by crises in their personal lives.

Catholic Women’s Fellowship co-chair Erin Stuvek said that the church has faced many difficult times over her long history. During such times, the faithful have a unique opportunity to deepen their commitment to Christ.

“When the church has faced hardships in the past, saints have risen to the occasion. Saints are born out of tumultuous times,” Stuvek said.

Stimpson Chapman will speak about two saints in particular who ignited their world with the fire of God’s love: St. Catherine of Siena, a 14th-century mystic and doctor of the church, and St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century Benedictine abbess, writer and mystic.

“They’re real, vibrant, complicated women. There is so much in their lives that women can relate to,” said Stimpson Chapman, author of “The Catholic Table.”

She noted that these women are not saints because they were perfect; they were often far from it. They achieved sanctity by remaining faithful to God in all things. Through her talk, Stimpson Chapman will encourage women to pursue the unique path to holiness that God has created for them.

“God is calling you to be holy, and he is calling you to be holy in a way that no one else is. When you don’t, you deprive the world of that specific holiness,” she said.

This year, the conference renews its focus on praying for priests of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Each woman attending the conference will receive the name of a diocesan priest at random, as well as a prayer for priests. She will be asked to keep that particular priest in prayer.

“This conference was born out of a need in Pittsburgh, and it is for our people. We feel a responsibility to pray for our diocese and its priests,” Stuvek said.

CWF co-chair Nancy Jarocki sees the conference as a place where women can form genuine friendships, rooted in their common faith.

“In a culture of social media, there is something so good about meeting someone face to face and realizing that you share faith,” Jarocki said.

For information or to register for “Unshakeable,” visit: www.cwfpitt.org.

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