Saturday, 20 September 2014 19:00

Women’s conference offers suggestions for a ‘new feminism’

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ihch-womens-conference"God has a word for you this day."

Pat Gohn, author of Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious spoke these first words to more than 120 women that attended "In Her Cherished Heart 2014" on Sept. 13, at the Chiara Center in Springfield.

Sponsored by the Office for Marriage and Family Life and the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, the women's conference attracted all ages: young moms, single women, grandmothers and religious sisters. The objective of the conference was to affirm women in their dignity as daughters of God, educate women about the gifts God has given them and encourage them to live their mission of spiritual and physical motherhood in their families, the church and society. The wisdom of the Catholic Church with the inspiration of the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as St. John Paul II, Pope Francis, Blessed Mother Teresa and other holy men and women of the church contributed to the message of the conference.

Gohn, a popular conference speaker, draws on decades of women's ministry. Her popular Catholic women's podcast Among Women, and her own story as a wife and mother proclaiming the church's compelling vision of every woman.

"You have dignity (blessed), you are gifted (beautiful) and you have a mission (bodacious)," exclaimed Gohn. "All women are called to spiritual motherhood."

The women's conference centered on Mary, our heavenly mother. The greatest event in our history was the Incarnation — God who is all spirit took on a body accomplished through a woman, Gohn said. Mary's humility is filled with God's presence; a correction to Eve's fall.

Highlights of the daylong conference included Mass in the historic St. Francis Church celebrated by Msgr. David Lantz. whose message continued in the homily from the day's readings of the Mass, "Allow the seed of faith to be planted in your heart and God will transform you to bear good fruit." Attendees also enjoyed, lunch, giveaway baskets, vendors and special treats.

The culmination of the conference brought words of a new kind of feminism in today's culture taken from encyclical letter by Pope St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life), "Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change." (99)

Anne Marie Dust, conference director, worked with a 13 person committee to plan this conference to be a day of affirmation, education and relaxation for adult women of all ages. When asked how she felt about the day's success, Dust said, "I am overjoyed, energized and grateful." "My hope is that every woman who attended the conference will leave with a better understanding of the calling and dignity of womanhood."

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