By Donis Tracy--Pilot correspondent Posted: 2/17/2006
BOSTON — Following the success of last year’s first Boston Catholic Men’s Conference, a group of women are hoping to provide a similar opportunity for the area’s Catholic women.
The first ever Boston Catholic Women’s Conference will be held March 3, the eve of the Men’s Conference, at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston.
According to Jennifer Schiller, the principal organizer for the event, the inspiration for the conference came from local Catholic women themselves.
As details of the 2006 Men’s Conference were being announced, organizers were inundated with emails from women “trying to find an opportunity for faith enrichment for women in the archdiocese,” she said.
The Men’s Conference leaders “took notice,” recalled Schiller, and contacted her to see if a similar event for women could be arranged. Schiller, a mother of three young children, gathered a core group of women committed to pulling the conference together.
On Feb. 2, just over a month from the proposed event’s date, the leadership team began planning the first Boston Catholic Women’s Conference.
The women were not left on their own, however.
Schiller lauded Men’s Conference coordinator Scot Landry who “provided all of the blueprints” for coordinating such an event. “If it wasn’t for Scot I don’t think we could have pulled this together in so short a time,” she said, adding, “I know we couldn’t have.”
“The evening is geared to all women, regardless of where they are in life — whether they be mothers, students, professionals, religious or wives — who are seeking to deepen their relationship with God,” explained Schiller. “It is for those who are desiring to know God more deeply and to do it in fellowship with other women.”
The conference, to be held under the theme “Renewing our Relationship with God,” will be conducted in two sessions: an “early program” running from 4 to 7 p.m. and the “main program” from 7 to 10 p.m.
The $20 registration fee, reduced for students and waived for women religious, provides admission to both sessions. There is a $5 discount for registering before Feb. 23, Schiller noted.
During the early program, women will have the opportunity to hear local speakers such as David and Barbara Thorp and Sister Olga Yaqob, the foundress of the Missionaries of the Virgin Mary speak on such topics as spiritual prayer, family prayer and recognizing God’s will in one’s life.
Those attending the first portion of the conference will also be able to browse exhibitor tables, purchase dinner, or listen to inspirational music performed by local artist Sean Forrest. In addition, the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and eucharistic adoration will be available throughout the evening.
“[Participants] can do many things — there are many options — or they can do only one thing. All these are opportunities to deepen their relationship with God. What they do is their choice,” Schiller said.
The main program will feature three keynote speakers: Erika Bachiochi, a Boston lawyer, theologian and mother of three young children; Father John Corapi, SOLT, of EWTN; and Boston Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley.
Following his address, Archbishop O’Malley will lead the women in eucharistic adoration to conclude the evening
Although planning has only been underway for about three weeks, over 1,600 women have already registered for the conference. Schiller said she believes this shows “the need for faith enrichment” among women in the archdiocese.
“Women desire it. They need it,” she stressed.
More information on the Boston Catholic Women’s Conference is available at 617-977-0916 or www.BostonCatholicWomen.org.