ALTAMONTE SPRINGS | Women from across the diocese are invited to faith and fellowship at this year’s Go Beyond conference themed “Born for This.” Saint Mary Magdalen Parish in Altamonte Springs will host the event November 6th in three languages, English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Nearly 100 women have registered to date.
Kristina Blair, director of faith formation at Saint Mary Magdalen and conference committee member, explained the theme popped into her head from a sticker she received at a religious education conference right before the pandemic. Blair felt pressure when returning to work. That’s when the message hit her.
“I walked to my office and I saw the sticker on my door, and it felt like a consolation that God, through the words of Saint Joan of Arc, was telling me, ‘You were born for this moment.’ I can do this. This is the moment I was made for,” said Blair.
Lydia Britton, director of faith formation at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Orlando, explains the theme is also on the book of Esther and the sacrifices Esther made for the love of her people. Esther’s selflessness inspired the women on the conference’s core team to ponder the message women need to hear today.
“God has equipped women with the gifts necessary for the ultimate sacrifice for those who we love,” said Britton. “So that’s where this theme came from that like Esther, we’re in the position to give hope to others. I think it’s important in these trying times to turn inward to the graces God has given us as women and those graces give hope to people.”
Britton is childhood friends with one of the speakers, Sister Mariana De Jesus. They grew up together and have remained in touch ever since. Britton mentioned another speaker was lined up for the event, but God had other plans. While pondering new options, Britton said Sister De Jesus kept coming up in her heart.
“Her testimony and genuine love for ministry is what drew me to including her,” Britton said. “She has a very great sense of humor… She’s fun, she’s bubbly, she’s strong, but spiritually, she’s just on fire.”
Another committee member, Rachel Bulman, selected the English speaker. Bulman heard Sister Josephine Garrett speak at a Catholic version of a TED talk and knew Sister Garrett radiated joy that needs to be shared with all women. Bulman believes Sister Garrett will help others find their missions as children of God because she found her identity and vocation within Christ. Bulman is confident Sister Garrett will lead others toward Him.
“I think the main message is that the themes of the talk are: Chosen, Equipped and Sent. Through all of that, there is this encounter with God,” shared Sister Garrett. “God doesn’t cease to be Emmanuel. [He is] present in your calling, in giving you the graces you need to go out. So, I think the main message is the enduring presence of Christ. That’s what makes us not afraid. Not through our own faculties or our own strengths, but because we are grafted onto Christ, we can be not afraid.”
Pope Saint John Paul II reminds us the Church gives thanks for each and every woman in his apostolic letter, Mulieris Digitatem or the Dignity of a Woman… “thanks for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for ‘perfect’ women and for ‘weak’ women – for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity.”
This event is funded in part by generous donations to Our Catholic Appeal. To register for the conference visit: https://womens-conf-11-6-21.eventbrite.com
By Lana Kaczmarek, Special to the Florida Catholic, October 27, 2021